Argos could become ‘Click & Collect’ High Street hub

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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.

15 Responses

  1. Surely the payback for John Lewis is the potential for ‘extra’ spend in the Waitrose store at the time of collection.

    At Argos the goods collected are most likely to be from a cheaper on-line competitor.

    Queues of people earning them just the pennies for the drop off are unlikely to make lasting appeal.

  2. So are Argos going to turn themselves into Post Offices? And if so, other high street chains will do the same to promote growth.

  3. I dont get it? Vendors have to pay to have their orders sent to argos stores and customers have to take time to go to a store? Am i missing something but what’s wrong with it being posted directly from vendor to customer just like it is now! They’re trying to reinvent the wheel

  4. Our local Tesco is building an extension onto existing store to undertake a bigger part of click and collect and it’s catalogue-based selling empire. Whether it will be intending to accept/dispense other retailers goods is another matter, but clearly it’s something they anticipate as growing in popularity.

  5. I can see this sort of thing being pretty huge and, yes, it is the sort of thing that Collect+ have been looking at so far.

    Take someone like me as an example. I am not necessaily unusual (make your own jokes here) and I am often not at home when deliveries are made. Just about every week I make a trek to the PO depot to collect parcels. It has limited hours and is only open after half one PM on Thursdays.

    If a local store, with longer opening hours, was a pick up point that would be good for me. The local supermarket I visit every day/few days would be good. Even my local Argos is more convenient than Royal Mail having longer hours.

    But more than that I can see it being a well priced option for traders and an earner for the shops. A new idea, not for everything, but I can see it being effective. I think we’ll see trials very soon.

  6. I don’t understand this at all. Argos supply their shops from their regional distribution centres (DCs). All the shop deliveries get grouped in a way that optimises the journey costs. Suppliers have timed delivery slots into the DCs, it’s all very efficient.

    But now they want to graft onto this a random assorment of goods over and above the Argos catalogue. Will these be delivered to store separately, or pooled in the DCs? Most Argos stores are in the middle of towns where deliveries are often quite inconvenient. You can’t just have staff leaving the stores to unload Joe’s Discount Electricals stuff as and when it turns up. There isn’t spare space in the DCs, they’re designed to hold just the catalogue items where the number of SKUs is known and planned.

    It’s nothing like the John Lewis or Waitrose click and collect model – there the SKUs are already in the company’s catalogue.

    And how are they going to manage anyreturns, it will make their returns flow process a nightmare!

  7. If it is not door to door how is ebay/Paypal protection going to work?

    And what about DSR’s?

    Buy and collect in the mindset of a buyer means payment on collection.

    As of now ebay/Paypal are simply not in a position to accomodate this type of arrangement.

  8. I find myself wondering if a large part of Argos thinking is what will happen when the customer turns up at the Argos Store to pick up their parcel. My guess is that just about every person will take the opportunity to either take an Argos Catalogue or to go through it in the store. Argos is probably thinking that a good percentage will see something that they want/need and will buy it.

    Thus Argos will gain a few pennies and a lot of inconvenience from throwing its distribution system/stores open to other traders but will potentially gain a considerable number of new customers(those that have not been to Argos before or not for a long time) who have called to pick up a parcel, taken a catalogue, examined it and ordered from it and who like the experience.

    If Argos finally go ahead with it it must mean that when they worked it all through it was financially viable.

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