Argos says its customers are now so comfortable with digital, with most now buying via mobile devices, that it has decided to stop printing its catalogue.
The retailer started as a catalogue business back in 1973 and its bumper editions ran into hundreds of pages. So far 93 editions of the tome have been produced over 47 years. But in recent years Argos has introduced screens where shoppers can browse for the items they want to buy instead – and then reserve or pay online before collecting the item in-store. Now it is set to remove its catalogues entirely.
Argos, this year ranked Elite in RXUK Top500 research,has been a leader in adopting multichannel retailing and its website now sees more than a billion visits every year and customers buying via smartphones and tablets account for more than 79% of all Argos online sales. By January all of its UK shops will have in-store screens, supported with multichannel delivery options including FastTrack same-day delivery and click and collect services. More than half of its sales start online - while 80% of all orders are fulfilled in store.
Mark Given, chief marketing officer at Argos parent company Sainsbury’s, 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. Today, popular products include wireless earphones, gaming consoles and lots and lots of Lego. In 1973, when the catalogue launched it was point-and-shoot cameras and spacehoppers.
“Just as our customers’ tastes have changed over the years, so have their shopping habits. We’re 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, both in-store and online.”
Argos now sells more than 60,000 products via its website, apps and more than 850 shops - both standalone branches and in digital-format stores within branches of Sainsbury’s supermarkets.
However, it’s not a total goodbye to the catalogue. Short-term, laminated versions of the catalogue will be available in stores that don’t yet have screens. And the Argos Christmas gift catalogue, much read by children, will continue to be produced and available in-store.