Argos was one of the first to offer same-day delivery or collection when it launched Fast Track two years ago, taking on 3,300 new delivery drivers to meet likely demand. Today, Fast Track is credited with powering the site’s continuing impressive growth, while shopper feedback on its website regularly praises the service’s efficiency.
Announcing first quarter results in July, Mike Coupe, chief executive of Sainsbury’s , which acquired Argos parent company Home Retail Group last year, was clearly delighted. “General merchandise and clothing, including Argos, outperformed the market,” he said, “with Fast Track delivery and collection seeing a stellar performance during the quarter, particularly during the period of warm weather when customers wanted to buy and receive their products the same day. Argos customers are increasingly choosing to shop with us online, consistent with our objective of being a leading digital retailer.”
Fast Track, which allows shoppers to place orders up to 6pm for delivery that evening or to collect items from stores during opening hours within a minute of placing the order, delivers the instant gratification and ultimate convenience that many mobile shoppers now demand. In the 16 weeks to 1 July 2017, Fast Track deliveries were up by 36% and collections from stores, where a dedicated Fast Track service desk means shoppers do not need to queue, increased by 64%. As Sainsbury’s first quarter report noted, this was “particularly popular during the hot weather, when customers wanted products like paddling pools and fans on the day”.
In the last financial year, mobile accounted for 76% of visits to Argos’ website. Even before the acquisition, Argos had been opening digital concessions in Sainsbury’s stores, where shoppers could collect purchases, and the aim now is to have 250 of them in Sainsbury’s by March 2019. For Sainsbury’s it is a win-win with the additional footfall adding 1-2% to its grocery sales, while the convenience of having a more accessible Argos outlet increases sales there too.
When Sainsbury’s closed down the Hereford Argos store and moved it into Sainsbury’s, sales increased by 2.5%. As Coupe said during the presentation of the company’s annual report, Argos now has “a fantastic array of points of presence, places that customers can pick things up from and we would expect over time that that part of the Argos proposition will grow and of course help drive the supermarket business”.