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While strolling around Farringdon the other day I was handed a copy of the new Argos catalogue by a cheery store employee.

Having already reviewed several of Argos’ digital products, including its mobile app, I thought it would be interesting to see how the company integrates digital elements into its catalogue.

Print has long been the backbone of Argos’ business and no doubt still is, yet as times change digital will become a more important revenue stream.

So, here’s a quick look at how Argos is adapting to the changing times...

Plugs for the app

The front cover of the catalogue features a full-page ad promoting Argos’ mobile app, including a run down of the app’s features and a QR code that users can scan to download it.

Unfortunately the user experience isn’t quite up to scratch, as is often the case with QR codes.

The call-to-action underneath the QR code says that scanning it allows you to download the iPad app, which is obviously off-putting for iPhone and Android users.

The QR code then links you to Argos’ desktop site which details how to download all of its mobile apps, but doesn't actually include a link to any of them. Instead it just advises users to visit the relevant app store and search for ‘Argos app’.

There are also frequent page footers throughout the catalogue that advertise the app as a way of staying up-to-date with the latest deals and prices.

Promos for the website

Argos’ catalogue mentions the website every few pages, with promos in the footer and also displayed as images on the front of mobile devices. Furthermore, there's a full-page ad on page four.

Most of the promos for the website advertise Argos’ check and reserve service, which allows customers to buy online and pick up in-store the same day. It’s a good way of targeting shoppers who are in a rush or need to make a last-minute purchase.

Other ads promote the fact that there's more product choice online, but in general the ads are more about raising awareness rather than actually integrating any digital element into the catalogue.

QR codes

Alongside the code directing shoppers to download Argos’ app, there are also a number of other QR codes dotted throughout the catalogue.

Most of the examples that I found link to third-party sites for brands such as BT and Reebok, so it seems that this is possibly a missed opportunity for Argos.

After all, if you’re going to litter your magazine with QR codes you may as well include a few of your own. The Reebok QR code links to information about its fitness equipment, however it’s hosted on a desktop site so is all but useless.

Thankfully BT and Zogg goggles have put more thought into their codes and link users to videos that give additional product details. 

                      

The only Argos QR code I could find linked to the company’s product page for a Samsung microwave. I’m not sure why that particular product warranted a code more than any other, but presumably it came as a result of a deal with Samsung.

The landing page immediately hits you with a pop-up advertising the Argos mobile app, but once you’ve dismissed it you can then buy or reserve the microwave should you so desire.

                      

It’s worth pointing out that all the QR codes I found had a relevant description of what shoppers could expect to access, with CTAs such as ‘scan for video’ or ‘scan for more information’.

In conclusion...

In my opinion Argos’ attempts to integrate digital elements into its catalogue are somewhat underwhelming.

There are constant reminders that there is more choice online and that the app allows you to stay up-to-date with the latest prices, but very little in terms of introducing interactive digital elements into the catalogue.

That’s not to say that Argos should necessarily flood the catalogue with more QR codes, but there is probably room for additional product videos and potentially a few augmented reality features.

ASOS has previously used AR app Blippar to add an additional layer to its own fashion magazine, so it would be interesting to see Argos trying something similar.

The QR codes that are present within the Argos catalogue are generally well executed, though they would benefit from larger CTAs. 

BT and Zogg do a particularly good job of using the technology to deliver additional product videos, and I feel there’s more scope for Argos to do the same with other products.

Similarly, Argos could do more to plug its reserve and collect service, which can be an important revenue stream for multichannel retailers.

In Q1 2012 reserve and collect accounted for 29% of Argos’ £819m in sales, while 86% of Halfords’ online sales are now for in-store collection.

There are frequent footers in the catalogue promoting the check and reserve service, but it might be beneficial to insert a more prominent ad or some kind of short tutorial showing customers the benefits of the service.

Overall then, although Argos heavily promotes its digital platforms in the catalogue it hasn't really taken the extra step of fully integrating digital elements into its traditional print channel.

David Moth

Published 7 August, 2013 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

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Ben Potter

Ben Potter, Director at Ben Potter - new business mentor

Hi David,

Not sure if you saw this but Argos is trialling a more interactive catalogue in the North East that adopts Blippar technology -

http://www.theretailbulletin.com/news/argos_to_trial_first_interactive_catalogue_23-07-13/

Cheers

Ben

over 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Ben, thanks, I hadn't noticed that. Hopefully they'll extend the trial down to London soon.

over 3 years ago

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Dominic Pemberton, Head of Publications & New Media at ArgosEnterprise

well spotted Ben! The Argos catalogue trial in the north east is a smaller catalogue that uses Blippar's image recognition technology to show the full online range, download the app and check and reserve this is the first step in making the catalogue truly interactive. we would love econsultancy to review the new catalogue to show how we are integrating digital and print media

over 3 years ago

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Joe

Comprehensive and detailed catalogues such as Argos's are quite unique in that they are rarely browsed or read cover-to-cover in the way that most print publications are. Customers usually go straight to the index, then straight to the product, or navigate to a specific area via colour coded pages. Then, in my experience, the catalogue goes back in the cupboard and forgotten about until the microwave blows up or I fancy a new BBQ.

That said, I would be interested to see how Argos push their digital offerings in their seasonal magazines and printed newsletters, which are much more likely to be browsed, read cover-to-cover, and left out on the coffee table for a week or two. I feel that this would be their real opportunity to direct custromers online.

over 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Dominic, if you can get us a copy I'd be happy to review it. Our office address is on here: http://econsultancy.com/uk/contact

over 3 years ago

Ben Potter

Ben Potter, Director at Ben Potter - new business mentor

@Dominic - if it's not too much trouble, we'd love a copy too! Our Brighton address can be found here http://www.leapfrogg.co.uk/contact-us/.

Many thanks

over 3 years ago

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Kate

Worth pointing out that you can use Blippar on the catalogue, the versions in the North East just highlight where to scan. But if you've got the time to flick through with Blippar at the ready then you can.

Having done this myself can't say I'm that impressed. There is an unnecessary animation on the cover, which you can't interact with and a few products throughout where, if you hover over them will bring up the product details and the rest of that range.

Can see they're trying to combine catalogue and online but don't think it's been a very successful attempt given that if you're flicking through the catalogue you're probably not in the frame of mind to be forced online. Weird idea. Don't think the execution is brilliant.

over 3 years ago

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Jeremy Taylor

Sorry to go completely off point, but I couldn't resist the opportunity...

If I were Argos, I'd make actually delivering stuff when they say they will a priority - it's a much better option than waiting until the day the item is suppposed to arrive, then calling to let you know it won't be in stock for another month, and then repeating this process.

It seems to be the standard way of doing things. But, hey, you get a £40 voucher afterwards so that makes everything all right doesn't it?

over 3 years ago

Edwyn Raine

Edwyn Raine, Digital Strategist at Evolution 7

I was in an interesting presentation from Blipper recently. The technology is incredible and the things they can achieve are fantastic, but it is always going to be a better PR story than a usable product.

I personally think Argos do a fantastic job with getting the digital/offline balance right.

I don't think it will be long until the Argos magazine is gone completely, Autotrader have made that move recently and there is only so long that people are happy scanning through a magazine...
Time is too limited in the new consumer's life and they will be aware of this.

over 3 years ago

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Dan Banks

I've put a copy of the North East trial in the post for you David and I'd be extremely interested in your thoughts.
Great to hear the other comments as well, it's always good to get an outside view.
We're in the early stages of working with AR and already have a great many learning's. I welcome any further feedback and or ideas on how you think we can improve the experience.

over 3 years ago

David Moth

David Moth, Editor & Head of Social at EconsultancyStaff

@Dan, many thanks. I'll look out for it.

over 3 years ago

Ben Potter

Ben Potter, Director at Ben Potter - new business mentor

@Dan @Dominic thanks very much for sending us the North East version of the catalogue, much appreciated

over 3 years ago

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