UK retailer Argos is to scrap iconic print catalogue after almost half a century, marking another major shift from the high street to ecommerce.

Argos to stop printing catalogue after 47 years

After 47 years of circulation, the printed catalogue is going to scrapped, apart from the Christmas edition, owing to the shift in customers' shopping habits and a new focus on online shopping.

Branches over the years have been slowly moving away from the books which have played a key role in Argos’ business model.

Customers have been opting to use digital screens to browse through the pages of items instead.

Mark Given, chief marketing officer at Sainsbury's, which owns Argos, said: “Over the decades the Argos catalogue has charted the nation’s changing tastes and trends in everything from must-have toys to the latest gadgets and devices.

“Just as our customers’ tastes have changed over the years, so have their shopping habits. We are seeing an increasing shift towards digital shopping, using our mobile app, website and in-store browsers. Closing the book on the catalogue will help us focus on delivering exciting and inspiring digital shopping experiences to meet the changing needs of our customers.”

Since its launch back in 1973, over 1 billion copies have been printed. Argos made so many copies of it at one point that it became the most printed publication in Europe. A total of 93 editions of the bi-annual catalogue were produced over its lengthy stay in shops.

Two editions of the Argos catalogue are printed each year, with many celebrities having teamed up with the retailer over the years, including Holly Willoughby, Spencer Matthews, Emma Bunton - and even Arnold Scwharzenegger.

Argos said it would still print its Christmas Gift Guide, which will be rolled out in stores later this year.

The rise of click and collect

Michael Schirrmacher, UK MD at Bloomreach, said: “The past few months have radically transformed the shopping experience: browsing and purchases are now happening online first, with physical shops acting more and more as fulfilment centres – embodied by the rise of click-and-collect. Catalogues no longer have a place to play in a post-COVID shopping experience, and we can only welcome brands that are now shifting their investment into smarter solutions to help their customers make the right choices online.

"In fact, in the State of Commerce Experience research study, conducted by Forrester and commissioned by Bloomreach, we found that over 90% of customers have changed behaviour as they avoid physical stores, put discretionary shopping on hold, and buy exclusively online or as much as possible online. Yet, the online experience is still lacklustre for most of them, with 72% reporting challenges — from out of stock items, inaccurate search results, poor or missing imagery, lack of reviews or ratings, and inflexible delivery options.

"Brands are tackling this challenge head-on as they compete for audiences, and that means leaving behind traditional solutions to create an experience that harnesses the full capabilities of eCommerce. Shoppers now want more from brands than a catalogue where they can browse items: they want a fully personalised experience that will enable them to find the product they’re looking for or an alternative that immediately responds to their need.”

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