The catalogue will take a back seat to technology as part of a £300m modernisation plan set out by new CEO John Walden, but the decision to ‘go digital’ is not a sudden one.
Argos has gradually been shifting is business online for years but the vision set out by Walden, who was drafted in earlier this year to turn it around, is the most decisive Argos has been on what it wants to be.
Now customers will be driven to use mobile devices and in-store Wi-Fi to order online instead of using the catalogue and paying in-store. Argos shops – a misnomer really since it barely stock products on shelves – will become even more geared towards collection points for purchases made online. It’s no real revolution for Argos, but this strategic update just clarifies the brand’s positioning and gives a confident message.
The catalogue will still continue to exist but it won’t be the lynchpin of the brand’s strategy that it has been. A digital version will launch before Christmas and the circulation of the print edition will be cut.
More than half of Argos sales already come through online or click and collect, but despite its progress with multichannel the catalogue, weighty tome that it is, has hung around its neck like a noose.
Argos has been unable to really embrace a digital future without cutting it loose.
With its marketing and operations geared around the six monthly catalogue publication cycle, Argos would always stand for something outdated, despite the fact that it operates a sophisticated and effective multichannel business.
It now has an opportunity to put its digital feet forward and make sure the brand resonates with consumers for the right, modern reasons.