Emma Robertson, Managing Director, Transform
For a retailer whose ‘check and reserve’ model pre-empted the stock availability and immediacy benefits of click and collect (albeit through a less digitised approach) it’s no surprise that Argos has long been perceived as a leader within multichannel retail. This is supported by the fact that multichannel now accounts for 51%, and mobile around 10%, of total company sales.
It’s worth admitting a bias upfront. Argos is a longstanding client of Transform’s, from the development of its first transactional website to the implementation of an ambitious multichannel strategy which now allows customers to choose from 14 order and fulfilment combinations.
Core to the Argos proposition is a shopping experience that is more local and accessible than that of its competitors, and even the likes of Amazon and John Lewis who compete fiercely with Argos on range and service, would struggle to replicate its high street heritage. It is perhaps in the past year that Argos has made the greatest strides with a focus on three key areas: online customer experience, mobile and delivery proposition.
Online Customer Experience:
In 2012, Argos.co.uk underwent the most significant redesign since the site was re-launched in 2007, with a fresh and confident new design supported by market leading functionality.
Developed through user-centred design, the structural and creative decisions are based on the needs, wants and behaviours of the Argos customer, identified through primary research.
Including One-click reservation functionality, it pushes the boundaries of the store-collect model once more as logged in customers are able to see real-time stock availability at their three favourite stores and then place the reservation instantly with “one click”; recognising that at point of selection, the customer needs to understand stock position at local rather than national level.
In addition, the site has integrated registration and account functionality into the product detail page, enabling customers to change their preferences without breaking out of the all important buying journey.
Mobile has quickly grown into a core part of the ‘Argos-it’ proposition and last year saw a number of firsts for Argos: the launch of iPad, iPhone and Android Apps and a mobile-optimised site.
The iPad app pushes the boundaries of mobile retail, combining both inspirational and functional customer journeys within a single user experience, tied together with a shared infrastructure. It addresses the evolution of the printed catalogue, building on its heritage whilst using the opportunities provided by new technologies to update and evolve it for digitally enabled customers. Where the app really innovates is in supporting the two key customer missions of browse and buy – achieving this through a single journey, with a single trolley. Interactive content hotspots provide the link, pulling in live pricing, shortlist, full details and add-to-trolley functionality. This combination of journeys mean the customer can uniquely explore without having to flick between apps or visit the website.
The delivery and returns proposition has been developed to match the breadth and convenience of the multichannel sales process. Argos led the way with same-day-delivery from the outset and now provides same-day-delivery from over 200 stores nationwide. This is enhanced by delivery-booking-at-point-of-order and a fully cross-channel returns process.
Most recently, Argos has taken the brave step of reprioritising its channels and cementing its evolution from a catalogue retailer supported by online channels, to one where digital channels are central to the customer experience with the catalogue playing a supporting role. For a business of Argos’ size, the transition is likely to be more a case of evolution than revolution, but if they replicate the pace of change seen across the past year, there is little doubt that Argos will continue to fare well in the multichannel retail race.
The simple scoring from Transform is based on whether or not five services are offered by the retailer with a score of 0 for no and 5 for yes. On this basis, Argos scores 25/25.
Collection in-store: Yes
Mobile app: Yes
Mobile web: Yes
iPad app: Yes
In-store tech: Yes