Argos has combined click and collect with voice commerce, launching a service that shoppers can use to reserve from a range of 20,000 products for same-day pick-up from a store.
Customers use the Voice Shop service via Google Assistant on their iOS or Android smartphone, or on a smart speaker to speak their order, from a range that includes toys, technology and home essentials. After confirming their order via their phone, they can pick it up from one of 850 Argos stores as early as the same day.
Shoppers can also use the assistant to search for a product and check availability, or to find their nearest store.
"Voice technology has the potential to revolutionise how we shop in the future," says John Rogers, Argos chief executive. "Digital home assistants have soared in popularity over the past year and people are increasingly looking to their smart devices to help with the smooth running of their lives.
"Argos is a digitally-led business at the forefront of technology and it’s really exciting that we are harnessing the simplicity of voice ordering with the convenience and popularity of click and collect to make our customers’ lives easier. We predict that the Voice Shop service will be a big hit and we will develop and refine the offer further as we get feedback from our customers."
Argos says the new service comes in response to growing customer uptake of smart speakers. One in 10 UK households now has a digital home assistant, it says, citing YouGov’s Smart Speaker report, while voice shopping is expected to reach £3.5bn turnover in the UK by 2022. Its own sales of smart speakers have grown by 151% year-on-year.
The technology builds on Argos’ hub-and-spoke logistics model that enables fast fulfilment of orders to to the store, and it comes soon after Argos launched augmented reality to enable shoppers to see how TVs, sofas and Lego models would look in their own homes.
The launch comes at a time when a leading group of retailers, including Tesco, Ocado and Amazon, have enabled voice commerce for home delivery but Argos’ approach builds in its pioneering click and collect service.
The retailer, an Elite trader in IRUK Top500 research, says six in 10 of its sales start online, but 80% are fulfilled in-store using its click and collect and Fast Track services. It’s easier, it says for the 95% of UK residents who live within 10 miles of an Argos store to order via app, website or voice, to collect when it suits them rather than wait in for a delivery.
1. Customers start the conversation with the phrase, "OK Google, ask Argos" followed by the item that’s needed. A search for a kettle might start by saying, "OK Google, ask Argos to find me a kettle". Alternatively, OK Google, talk to Argos" opens a more general conversation.
2. Voice Shop will then ask for more information, such as "how much do you want to pay" or "which store do you want to collect from?" to narrow down the search.
3. When a shopper has found the right product, Voice Shop will ask if they want to reserve it and send a notification to their phone. By opening the notification, shoppers can confirm their order.
4. Finally, the customer will go to the store with the reservation order sent to them via email. Once there they can collect and pay for the item.
Image courtesy of Argos