According to Retail Week, Argos is the UK’s best multichannel retailer, recently named number one in its ‘Top 30 multichannel retailers’ list.

But what exactly makes Argos so successful?

Here’s a look at its multichannel strategy, and how it offers customer a superior and seamless experience across all channels. 

In-store experience

Retail Week reports that online sales account for a third of total sales on average for the top 30 multichannel retailers. This means that the rest is generated in stores. 

For Argos, success in both areas has stemmed from heavily investing in store technology – notably replacing its famous laminated catalogues and mini pens with tablet devices.

Instead of the old system of writing out an order slip and queuing to pay a cashier, customers can now buy items much quicker via a digital kiosk before waiting for their collection to arrive. 

Meanwhile, employees are also armed with portable devices to help find product and stock information quickly and easily, and warehouse staff use headsets to find out what tasks should be prioritised at that particular moment. 

Another key area of online and offline alignment is click-and-collect – a feature that 72% of consumers are said to make use of if it is available. Argos’s ‘Fast Track’ service takes this up a notch, allowing customers to order and pick up from a store on the very same day.

Speed and convenience

This brings us to another important factor in Argos’s success – the aim of offering customers the fastest and most convenient option possible. 

According to research, 17% of consumers would change their minds about a purchase if click and collect was not available, making it a highly effective way of reducing basket abandonment. What’s more, click and collect customers are reported to spend twice as much as regular shoppers.

Not only does Argos offer click and collect, but the addition of ‘Fast Track’ means that customers can pick up on the same day, as well as get same-day delivery on home orders placed before 6pm.

Effectively, this means that customers are no longer restricted to a retailer’s terms or operating hours, enjoying the freedom and choice to choose where and how they receive their items at their own convenience. Argos also allows customers to choose between four time slots or a two-hour delivery window in exchange for their mobile number – a way to banish that dreaded day-long wait indoors.

The demand for this kind of service is evident. Retail Week says that Argos generates half of its sales online, yet three quarters of those online orders are collected in its stores.

When it comes to choosing Argos over competitors like Amazon, its £3.95 one-off cost for same-day delivery might also be a compelling option for customers, rather than being committed to the latter’s Prime monthly fee.

Argos’s multi-channel business model is clearly making an impression. Since taking it over in 2016, Sainsbury’s has trialled the Click & Collect service in a number of local stores, recently announcing that it is to roll it out throughout the UK.

A focus on mobile 

In 2015, it was revealed that Argos was the first multichannel retailer to generate £1bn of mobile commerce revenue in a single year, with sales on mobile devices growing 38%.

With a user-friendly mobile site and a slick and functional mobile app, Argos’s dedication to this channel allows the retailer to better align its digital and physical worlds. Essentially, the app acts as a connector between the two, designed so that customers can switch from one device to another with ease, reflecting the increasingly fractured path to purchase consumers now take.

The app also allows users to streamline the in-store experience by providing a reservation number to quickly collect items. Similarly, features such as geo-location technology allow the retailer to target customers with relevant and location-related messaging, and a barcode scanner lets customers instantly bring up more information about items in the catalogue.

As an aside, Argos often posts amusing version update descriptions on the app store. This is not entirely relevant, but it's a nice detail, showing how the retailer unexpectedly engages users and generates a bit of conversation on social.

Featureful ecommerce

Most retailers have an ecommerce site, but that doesn’t always mean they’re easy or appealing to use. There are many features which makes Argos’s website both of those things.

Stock visibility is a highly important factor, with Argos specifically being one of the retailers that allows customers to see whether or not an item is available in-store. 

This is an incredibly useful feature, made even more so by its prominent visibility on Argos’s product pages. The tool itself is fast and responsive, providing users with a handy map as well as a list of nearby stores – plus information about when the item in question will be available to pick up.

Alongside this, there are a bunch of other helpful features on Argos product pages, including a question and answer tool that helps customers with specific queries about a product. 

Similarly, ratings and reviews include product-specific categories. For example, customers can rate out of five stars on things like ‘durability’ and ‘imaginative play’ for toys and ‘sound quality’ and ‘comfort’ for headphones. This might sound like a small detail, but it means that instead of reading extensive reviews, users can instantly find out details that might impact whether or not they make a purchase. 

Elsewhere, Argos integrates product videos where possible to further inform customers. It also uses recommendations and alternatives to pique interest, as well as prompt users into making a definitive decision.

Its mega-menu is also highly impressive, allowing customers to see all available categories at one time, without having to scroll or click through. It also showcases Argos's extensive product inventory, including popular products of the moment (such as fidget spinners or the Apple watch).

Altogether, Argos might not have the most attractive or slickest UX, but in terms of functional elements, it certainly shines. 

In conclusion…

While other retailers like John Lewis, Dixons, and Schuh have also been cited as top multichannel retailers, it’s clear why Argos comes out on top.

With a decent ecommerce offering, investment in store technology, and a clever distribution model, it delivers on the promise of a seamless shopping experience across the board.   

Related reading:

Nikki Gilliland

Published 27 September, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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