Argos , the British catalogue giant merchant ‘s ambitious plan to transform into a digital retail leader is articulated in its new digital concept store at Colchester in UK . The new retail design concept enables interactive trial with customers on many p
" We developed a digitally integrated space, from the shopfront, through to browsing, purchase and supporting targeted promotions. We have designed a pared-back environment; the clarity of the space complete with raw and clean materials provides the perfect foil for the rich and dynamic digital content,” inputs David Wright, Group Managing Director at Dalziel and Pow, the brain behind the store design. The same concept is followed through six stores with four of them spread over London and two of them out of the city. This new concept revolves around the notion of letting the customer design his own experience and moves away from the quite common approach of a 'pre-decided' retail experience. It offers a new meaning to the idea of store design through several features which serve as tools of shopping and the store is zoned accordingly. Online shopping is the preferred approach for customers of this brand. Argos generates 40% of its sales through digital channels. This store brings all customers; the online shoppers and the in-store buyers to a common podium. Also, with a new mask on, there is a third category of customers that the store invites: the inquisitive. The multiple retail experience options that this store offers make for its USP which goes beyond stirring the emotional chords by a physical space walk-through. A 'Fast Track' collection station renders speed collection service to customers paying online. 60 seconds and you're on the go! This proves to be a convenient service considering that
one third of Argos customers pay online and collect in-store. Catering to all needs, the instore shoppers also have enhanced options for their retail activity. Ipads, put to commercial use, are stationed in plenty for customers to dip into product reviews and videos to make an informed choice for their purchases. Free in-store Wi-Fi supports the same through personal mobile devices. Catalogues, a veteran concept of the brand, still hang around for old school customers but are kept right next to an Ipad in the customer service zone to assist them to a newer and better digital terrain. Instore digital display screens induce sales at the Argos store which update the latest price promotions, brand messages and customer information via eye-catching moving images. New inspirational shop floor displays, and shop-within-a-shop displays, will showcase specific ranges such as toys, consumer electronics and jewellery, or support events with suppliers. This new futuristic arena is a wholesome ball of digitized operations. The store front as well greets you with digital window displays managed centrally and splurge seasonal and category promotions. The static paper posters are now history. The repositioning at the retail store level comes with red Argos branding which takes over the blue branding to create
a high street presence like never before. An interior environment is created with brick-effect walls and light toned vinyl flooring to give subtle shades to balance a heavy duty tech-savvy atmosphere. Energy efficient LED lights replace the functional strip lighting to add an element of taste. The aim is to court a larger customer base and lead them into the store. The advanced concepts and an ensemble of virtual and material ingredients back the objective. An added dash of comfort is the element of hospitality. With so many self-assisting digital channels operating, the store staff is relatively free to help customers. Their presence in the store gives a sense of security for purchase support to the customers. The store colleagues have Ipads thorough with apps to service the customer in every possible way including guiding them through product options and information. This element of hospitality makes a huge difference to the experiential level in an otherwise impersonal digital transaction. This idea of warmth is also conveyed digitally through the 'Welcome Wall'. On entry, customers are familiarized with the store staff via videos taken of all store colleagues. One may say, this is an avant-garde idea establishing a rapport between the brand and its receivers.
John Walden, Managing Director of Argos,
said, “We are early in our ambitious plan to transform Argos into a digital retail leader. We are seeking to reposition our stores to support a digital future - in which digital channels are the primary interface for customers, but stores continue to be critically important as a national network for product collection, and a local presence for local colleagues to provide customer service. The new digital concept stores enable us to trial with customers several important features of what we believe a store should offer in a digital future.” To sum up, this is an example of a futuristic outlook to exploring retail experience in a digitized form and yet in sync with spatial design instincts. Intricate attention to the typology of its target base helps the brand design experiences which deliver customers a retail encounter that combines ease and speed of purchase with pleasure and warmth!