High Street chain Argos could become a ‘click & collect’ hub for web retailers as sales slump. The new MD John Walden, who has been in place for three days, said that Argos (part of the Home Retail Group) could offer its delivery network and 750 stores as order collection points to other retailers. Argos sales slumped 8.8% in the last 18 weeks of 2011.
The new boss said: “I will certainly look hard at the store franchise and how we use the stores both from a customer experience standpoint in terms of convenience and speed, but also how else can we use the stores strategically.”
“The stores potentially are a real strategic asset for us as we think about a multi-channel offer that is better relative to people we compete with, whether that’s Amazon, other e- tailers or grocery chains expanding their offer or others. They can be used and assembled in a way that we could potentially offer a real difference in the marketplace.”
In recent months, John Lewis and Waitrose have pioneered a ‘click & collect’ service that has won industry plaudits and attracted many satisfied customers. The service allows buyers to order anything from the John Lewis website and then collect it the next day from local Waitrose store. The idea opens up interesting possibilities for ecommerce that don’t seem to be lost on Argos’s new CEO.
All sorts of retail organisations, including the supermarkets, have huge and efficient nationwide delivery networks that transport thousands of tons of goods every day using a web of depots and stores. In many senses, they resemble the Royal Mail without the doorstep drop off. But it is “the last mile”, the actual delivery that is the most costly and difficult part of any despatch. Millions of parcels are not delivered successfully in the first instance. If you eliminate that bit, and nominate a local pick-up point, the cost of carriage can be reduced with some added convenience to the buyer.
It’s easy to see how a shop like Argos could become the High Street pick up point for items bought from other big name retailers. But looking further may have huge benefits. How about eBay sellers being able to use the Argos network for their own despatches? It’s an idea worth exploring.