We’re very excited by the news over the last 24 hours that UK high-street retailer Argos, legendary for its catalogue plus store twist on retailing, has announced a vision to become more digitally led.
We think this is spot-on – the right thing to do, and the right time to be doing it, as we’ve talked about in our point of view on shopping. When Argos first launched it was genuinely new – it was doing something different, it was a bold, new way to shop. In recent years though, like many of its UK high street competitors, it’s been a struggle, and the business model hasn’t quite kept pace with how people are shopping. We hate to see a cherished part of the British high street struggle, so we’ve been thinking about how service design thinking, the kind of stuff we do at Fjord, could accelerate things and give Argos a new promise and purpose.
If we were given the challenge of outlining Argos’ new go to market, we’d probably think about these things:
- Reinvent the catalogue. The first wave of dotcom was all about putting the catalogue online. That’s just become the new business as usual. It’s difficult to find things, and it certainly misses out on the opportunity to surface things that customers are really looking for. So we’re right behind the idea that Argos have announced about ditching the laminated catalogue in the store. Much more relevant and interesting to have browsers and screens in store. But even then, there’s real opportunity for revolutionising this. Thinking of ways to actually recognise customers and remember what they’ve browsed or bought before, offer extremely tailored offers and experiences.
- Atomise the catalogue. Getting the catalogue in people’s hands across devices is also the right way to go. Argos is already on mobile, as it should be, and sales are exploding. But how can it atomise across other sites, other forms of ecommerce? How about working very closely with any number of the myriad payments services to offer a branded payment service rather than relying on the traditional players for this most critical aspect of online shopping? How about being able to literally ‘Argos it’ on any site you happen to be on or even TV programme you’re watching, as long as Argos stocks the thing in question?
- Bringing it all together in the store. Screens and apps are meaningless if they aren’t tied together in a seamless experience. This is where people come in – we don’t just mean people hovering over you as you try to work out how to navigate a screen (not everyone will relish the screen experience, after all). What about people who have a direct line to the back office to check availability, armed with tablets to help customers select things, maybe advise on else might meet their needs better.
- A branded experience. Argos used to have the ‘Find it. Get it. Argos it’ slogan, but there was always a huge gap between the promise and the experience of waiting in queues to pick up what you wanted to buy. Now, the brand promise needs to be something completely different, but more importantly, it has to be embodied in every little aspect of the service experience, from the way the online experience works, how it recognises who you are, how the people in the store behave, and how orders are fulfilled down to how queries are handled. The Argos brand promise needs to inhabit every part of the organisational DNA.
So that’s where we’re coming from. Argos is going through exactly the kind of things we talk about in our latest viewpoint on shopping – the trick now is to do something about it and put service design at the heart of the new Argos of the future.