Argos opens first tube station store as it steps up convenience push

Argos has opened its smallest ever shop at Cannon Street London Underground station as it steps up its convenience push amid wider plans to modernise the business and position it as a digital-first retailer.

The “Argos Collect” store, which opens today (25 November), will allow customers to buy or reserve products online from a range of 20,000 and collect them at the shop. The store itself covers just 650 square feet, with 170 square feet of that given over to shop space and the rest used for storing orders. That, claims Argos, is the size of a large kitchen in a typical family home.

Argos is the latest retailer to agree a deal with Transport for London as it looks to develop its commercial estate for retail and offer customers services that can provide convenience and generate revenue to be reinvested back into London transport. TfL forecasts that this will generate £3.4bn over the next 10 years.

Supermarkets including Asda and Tesco have set up collection points for online grocery orders at stations across London. Amazon, meanwhile, has installed lockers to allow people to pick up their online shopping at a convenient location.

Click-and-collect is a growing trend in retail with Deloitte forecasting that sales will double in value to £2.5bn this Christmas alone. Retailers are trialling new ways to ensure customers have access to their products, especially in areas where they might not have a large store footprint.

John Walden, chief executive at Argos parent company Home Retail Group, says the new store format should provide Argos with a way to reach more customers through new locations. The retailer is keen to broaden its audience, recently launching a new marketing campaign that aims to raise awareness of its store revamps and make it appeal to more affluent shoppers.

The new store continues Argos’ modernisation plans as it looks to compete with online rivals such as Amazon. It has already revamped a number of its stores across the country, turning traditional Argos stores into digital formats that allow customers to make orders via iPad rather than pen and paper.

It has also opened a number of new smaller digital stores as well as concessions inside sister brand Homebase.

The move to open “Collect” stores comes as an increasing number of Argos purchases are done online or via mobile. In its latest results, Argos said internet sales accounted for 43% of its total while mobile commerce was up 45%, accounting for 22% of total sales.

Walden says: “Digital shoppers are increasingly demanding improved choice, convenience and speed in the fulfillment of their online orders, especially via click and collect; the collection of their online orders from a conveniently located shop.  Argos has been a click and collect leader, and we continue to innovate our offer with our new digital stores.”