Retail Review - Argos Mobile
Chris Brassington, CEO at Starfish 360
First impressions - Score: 4/5
Covering look and feel of brand identity, how it compared to other major retailer’s Mobile webs and apps and how the mobile sales channels compared to other sales channels – e.g. web / iPad
Argos’ offering for the mobile channel comprises a mobile website and 3 native apps; one for iPhones, one for iPads and one for Android devices. The mobile website carries 35,000 of their main online 45,000 product catalogue, and the apps just 25,000.
The overall look and feel of brand identity is good, with all the mobile formats looking clean, well-organised and easy to view. There are some nice design touches here and there, with the preference for icons over text menu options, or sliders over tick boxes or drop downs. Even the appropriately sparing use of animations and vibration feedback to acknowledge choices or actions. However, there is also some evidence of a disconnect with the main Argos business, for example the use of the word “trolley” to describe the list of the customer’s selected products – Argos famously don’t use trolleys or even baskets as anyone who has ever bought anything larger than a toaster from them and tried to get it to their car will attest, so surely a term more relevant to Argos could have been used. Also the use of icons to improve look and feel is admirable but unfortunately goes too far and relies upon a customer’s familiarity with mobile icons too much, for example despite seeing the icon for add to shortlist numerous times it wasn’t until I discovered much further into my journey that there was a shortlist feature let alone that was the icon to add to it. The point being here is that, not uncommonly, Argos’ mobile channel offerings appear to be standalone entities rather than a touch point with the main Argos business but tailored to those that wish to engage via their mobile device at that time.
This view is also borne out by the facts that the mobile apps are not transactional, and the mobile website does not enable you to access your main online account, amongst other missing elements of functionality. Both of these omissions again point to a lack of consistency and integration in mobile with other Argos channels.
Home page layout and menu
Although there are minor differences between mobile web and apps, the home page layouts are optimised for mobile screens and good on the whole. Clean, uncluttered and well structured, with very much a functional bent. The mobile web homepage offers more supporting information than the apps which just focus on the functional reasons for using them, i.e. what product do you want to find, and how. There are minor niggles on each format, for example on the app home pages there are featured products in the “What’s hot”, but these varied thumbnail images do not have descriptions, just price information, and it is difficult to make out what some of them are. On the mobile web homepage these “What’s hot” products are not present, instead replaced with rather boring additional menu options, making the home page boring and wordy.
Speed of page uploads with Wi-Fi and 3G
Generally good on Wi-Fi, 3G and even 2G, but seemingly the odd random failure when looking up product information or images. Some of these caused by connection issues and a few because the files just do not seem to exist for app download but are present for mobile web.
Registration and a/c set up
As neither the mobile website nor the apps allow you to use your Argos account from the main online site, there is no related functionality present in either format. The general lack of even basic personalisation like accessing your Argos account, seems to be an issue here. The only concessions to personalisation seem to be in the app like setting a preferred store, viewing your reservation history, setting data tracking permissions or creating a shortlist. However small details let the app down again, as the preferred store is not automatically added to the list of favourite stores.
Search & navigation: Score 3/5
General menu structures are clean, obvious and easily navigated. However a number of the icons used are not immediately obvious, such as using a star for Short-list. Once you get deeper into the experience accessing menu options becomes more difficult, requiring a return to the home page or having to decipher what appear to be random category links to go back in search processes.
Argos’ categories are well known and are usually consistent across all channels, no difference here with mobile. There may be less products but the category structures are the same.
How products are found - Journey from menu to product selection?
The journey from menu to product selection works fine whether you are browsing through categories or searching using a specific term; search in particular works well as the list refinement options seem endless. However the processes can be quite laborious with the average browse requiring at least 4 clicks before you actually encounter any products. Also proceeding to browse onwards through category lists or narrowing down your search is great but trying to go backwards proves difficult and unclear, and quite often you end up in dead ends that seem to only present the option to return to the home page and start again, so some breadcrumbs to move backwards would be useful. Also as the number of list refinements we made increased we discovered that not all of them actually worked, for example refining lists of baby clothes by age ranges rarely worked, and there was generally the odd gap in product information.
Can you look for items before registering?
One of the great pluses of there being no ability to register or set up a new account is that there is no hindrance or delay to starting to search for what you want.
Usability – on mobile web – rendering
The mobile web and apps had clearly been design as standalone mobile optimised assets, so in general the usability was good. However we did find the odd link through to the main site, such as the Emma Bunton clothing range that spoiled the mobile experience. The only other issue we found in this area was the lack of ability to rotate product images to landscape for a different perspective.
Can you scan in bar codes?
No this feature is not available, but given Argos’ method of retailing it’s not really that relevant.
See your history of viewed items?
There is very little continuation from one visit to the mobile web or use of an app to the next, the only real options to continue your experience are to save products in your trolley or to create and share a shortlist with yourself. However the app does allow you to view previously reserved items.
Is there a store finder? Is geo look up offered or post code entry? Maps / store details / opening hours etc.?
The store locator on the mobile web is basic but well executed, searching by postcode or town will allow you to choose from a list of nearby stores and then present key store information to you together with a map. On the apps the feature is far more advanced and uses your current location data to intuitively offer you a list of currently nearby stores, present key store data but then also to utilise other native apps to provide mapped directions from your current position to your chosen store. A rare example of the Argos mobile offerings actually taking advantage of some of the unique facets and capabilities of mobile devices.
Does the company cross promote the app or desk top full site on mobile web?
Both the mobile apps and the mobile web are promoted, albeit quite uninspiringly from the main online site. The mobile web clearly offers a link back to the full website but the very existence of this link means that the mobile offering is flawed, as if properly executed there should be no need for this link at all. The limitations of the mobile apps, i.e. reserve store items only, mean that if you choose any home delivery items then you must be redirected to the mobile web anyway. This is however executed in a seamless and effective manner.
Categories and products on offer: Score: 4/5
Menu & Layout
As described earlier, the menu options and layout require some attention to make the whole process quicker, more intuitive, more dynamic and easier to track backwards. With regards to the products on offer on the mobile web or in the mobile apps, there are obviously less of them but this might mean something or nothing depending on what you are looking for. However, Argos have missed an opportunity to utilise the dynamic capability of mobile devices to enhance the product information available, there are no additional product images, there are no product videos and you cannot even rotate the product images.
Seasonal & offers covered?
The standard What’s Hot offers are presented to mobile customers together with the usual clearance categories.
Could you add items to a wish list?
Products can be added to a wish list on the mobile apps but not on the msite, this seems to be about making up for the lack of transactional ability on the apps rather than providing a way of continuing the shopping experience across time and channels. The wish list can be emailed but individual products themselves can also be shared. In another rare utilisation of the capabilities of mobile devices customers are offered a bewildering array of options to share product information with friends. The apps check the mobile device for all possible sharing applications and then makes it easy to share using whichever one you wish.
Can you enlarge product shots?
Although product images can be limited the mobile web and apps make good use of intuitive mobile gestures to browse and zoom, but the ability to rotate the orientation of product images seems strangely neglected.
Payment process & check out: Score 3/5
Easy to follow?
The payment process on the mobile website is easy to follow, well-structured and laid out, with very clear instructions as to how to proceed through it. As a standalone payment process it is actually very good. However, the fact that you cannot access your main online account or even create a separate mobile account means that you have to go through the whole process each time you make a purchase.
How quick and easy are the forms to fill in?
Form filling is easy and pretty fast to navigate, making good use of postcode lookups and option sliders instead of tick boxes to ensure your typing is kept to a minimum and fat fingers are taken into account.
Do you have to have an account already – or can you go straight to view items?
No accounts on mobile website or mobile apps.
Do they offer address look up from postcode to speed up payment and improve data accuracy?
A postcode look up is offered and works well, with the option to type manually also offered if preferred.
How clearly are delivery options shown and what are they?
The delivery options for home delivery are very clearly presented and at the correct stage of proceedings, together with links to further information if the very well summarised information is not enough for you. There is also the option to reserve for store pick-up, and once again the information relating to this choice is very clearly, appropriately and succinctly presented.
Telephone help options if you get stuck?
Telephone numbers are provided for both sales and customer service on the mobile website and mobile apps. However, these are not presented to the customer during the order process, instead you have to navigate through the menu system to the Contact Us page.
Range of cards accepted?
All mainstream cards are accepted plus the Argos Store Card.
Vouchers and promotional codes accepted?
Promotional voucher codes can also be applied.
How are repeat visits and purchases handled?
Repeat visits and purchases through the mobile website and mobile apps are not affected in any way by previous visits or purchases. Every visit or purchase requires the customer to go through the same process, albeit a fairly quick and well-structured process, but no use of previous visit or purchase data is made by Argos to increase sales or improve the customer’s experience. With the exception of not having set your preferred store or data tracking preferences on subsequent uses of the mobile apps.
Post purchase: Score 3/5
Order tracking post purchase
Apart from the ability to view past reservation on the app there are no post purchase/reservation facilities on the mobile website or apps.
Confirmation of order by email and see it in “My Orders”?
No order tracking is available on the mobile website or mobile apps.
Review your account settings
You cannot access your main online account via mobile (unless you want to try to navigate the full size online offering on a 5” screen), however some personal preferences can be changed on the apps, such as preferred store and data tracking permissions.
Rate this site/feedback sought?
Neither the mobile website nor the mobile apps seek their customers’ feedback, or enable them to rate the site or individual products. Customer reviews of individual products, captured on the main website, can be viewed on both the mobile website and the mobile apps. However as with most mobile apps there are customer reviews in the app stores. On the whole Argos’ apps get very good ratings, with two thirds of all ratings for the Android or iPhone apps at 4 stars or above. There appear to have been problems with previous updates causing existing app installations to crash but, to Argos’ credit, issues seem to have been resolved very quickly in further quick updates, but still not a great experience for fickle mobile users.
Share purchases with friends socially?
Although products cannot be shared with friends after purchase, or indeed their customer ratings despite the ratings including the question “Would you recommend this product to a friend?” products can be shared prior to purchase when using the apps. The mobile website offers no options to do this but the apps offer a bewilderingly impressive array of options to do this, dependent on the apps installed on your phone as well as its messaging capabilities. The most useful in my view though would be the ability to build a wish list of products in the mobile app which can then be emailed to as many friends as you need.
There is very little evidence of previous visits for the returning customer, and with limited functionality there is no real need to speed up the process by storing lots of preferences or syndicated logins. So this lack of previous visit history does not really hamper the customer, but it does not enable the retailer to use context to increase mobile sales.
Good experience – would you repeat visit?
Yes but there is no shortlist on mobile web or trolley sharing
Conclusion: Overall score: 17/25
On first impressions it’s easy to see why Argos accounts for the second largest share of mobile site visits in the UK. However delve a little deeper and you begin to ask, how much could that share be if they improved their engagement strategy for mobile shoppers? The mobile site and apps do what they are designed for but there is a real need for more attention to detail in the overall mobile proposition.
There are some minor design issues with the user experience and the user journeys are not very engaging, but more importantly the current mobile offering has not been developed as part of an integrated customer engagement strategy. For example, existing online accounts are not accessible on mobile thus preventing the customer journey continuing across multiple touch points.
Overall the Argos mobile site and apps are generally fit for purpose and easy to use, but they are standalone experiences for the customer rather than an extension of their relationship with Argos.