Argos switches on power at its digital stores

 
Kasmira Jefford
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ARGOS said it is in talks with suppliers that could pay for space in its showrooms as the retailer unveiled the first of its new digital concept stores near Old Street yesterday.

The familiar laminated catalogues have been scrapped in favour of iPads while wall-mounted digital screens have replaced the posters as part of the new format aimed at transforming Argos into a digitally-led business.

And whereas suppliers traditionally paid to display their product in Argos’ catalogues, it is also now working on what it calls a new media model that lets suppliers use the screens and other displays in store to promote products.

“It’s a really good way for us to generate revenue and to be able to promote our suppliers,” Argos managing director John Walden said. “If we wanted to do a campaign for a day, a week, or two hours, we can do that.”

Argos owner Home Retail Group is one year into a five-year turnaround plan to reverse five consecutive years of profit declines. The group is initially launching five digital stores to trial innovations such as a fast-track service, which aims to allow customers who have ordered online to collect products in store within 60 seconds of arriving.

Walden argued that shops were still core to the business and that 90 per cent of all Argos’ sales still involve a store at some point, while a third of sales were made by customers ordering online and collecting in store.

FOUR THINGS YOU WON’T FIND IN ARGOS’ NEW STORES

1 PENCILS: The days when customers wrote down the reference for that kettle or ironing board on a piece of paper before ordering will be long gone.

2 CATALOGUES: Shoppers will browse and reserve through iPads. The familiar laminated catalogues are not disappearing altogether, though, but will be available on request from staff in store or in a corner of the shop.

3 PAPER POSTERS: Large colourful display screens showing video and digital content will replace static paper posters. There will also be large screens behind the tills pointing to the fast-track and pay and collect tills, rather than the old screens that showed customer order numbers.

4 LONG PICK-UP COUNTERS:
Gone will be the long pick-up counter that divides staff from customers in store. Instead staff will be able to come out onto the shop floor to engage and help shoppers searching for products on the iPads.