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Next Generation Shopping - Have Argos' New Concept Digital Stores Succeeded?

18th Mar 2014
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Retail giant Argos last year announced the trial of new hybrid stores which embrace the latest technology to offer a whole new shopping experience. Consumers' new internet-savvy nature means they can now use the tech they use at home in-store to make the shopping experience quicker - but how does this new shopping experience affect customer service?

New Additions

Argos' new interface includes a complete upheaval of the store's exterior and interior as well as a revamp of the mechanics to allow for the technological advancements. The new concept does away with the old catalogue format and introduces an entirely tech-based interface. iPads are used for in-store shopping with a 60 second Fast-Track collection service which massively cuts down the customer's waiting time. The concept stores, located in London, Colchester and Dunfermline are intended to create a universally appealing atmosphere that caters to the needs of any shopper, improving upon customer service and long checkout queues.

Why the Change?

Online retail is a gargantuan business with millions of people choosing shopping online over the real thing. The customer is always right and thus retail must go where the customer goes!

Does This Benefit the Customer?

This ability to choose your products and place them in a virtual shopping basket creates an ease and speed to the whole Argos shopping experience. The deal runs alongside an agreement with online retail and auction site eBay to distribute their available products via a click-and-collect service too. This ground-breaking way of purchasing a huge number of goods is intended by Argos to be able to bring the consumer's love of up-to-date technology and combine it with its engaging and friendly atmosphere and classic customer service. In theory, this will help the customer enjoy an innovative shopping experience with the benefit of added convenience - online based distribution companies currently come up trumps compared to physical shopping.

Has it Worked?

The high street suffered a financial blow with the economic downturn but Argos' concept is a great way of creating a unique selling point and a reason to visit the store. The scope of products on offer is teamed with reviews, testimonials and how-to videos, which are available on all residing tech in-store.

However, reports late last year were that Argos were suffering technology glitches after the launch during peak times.

Other Points of Note

This pioneering and inventive new way of capturing the attention of the customer has been seen from other large department store companies including Marks and Spencer and John Lewis and these giants of retail could potentially pave the way for other companies. Those in the know, however, still believe that digital stores en masse are a long way off but Argos' trial gives a glimpse in to the future.

Consumers these days are tech-savvy and perhaps no longer satisfied with the hustle and bustle of high street shopping, instead looking for a streamlined way of purchasing goods with the focus less on queues and more on enjoying their shopping experience.

We spoke to Paul Reid who runs an online shopping store, New Forest Clothing. He’s found in the last 12 months his online sales have risen noticeably:

“We’re getting large increases in mobile traffic and our market is widening as more and more people learn how - and appreciate the ease of - shopping online. If you have your customer service sorted, you can provide a consumer experience online that rivals that of the highstreet. Argos’ idea is fantastic and retailers should embrace technology - it’s not going away anytime soon”.

Shopping trends move from week to week with many different styles and brands changing regularly on a whim but our tastes as consumers in general have not changed. Technology has become so integrated into our lives because of its simplicity and ability to aid us with everyday problems. Therefore, embracing technology and its potential favourable impact on customer service in the shopping environment, could just the be perfect way to bring people back onto the high street, and into the shops.


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