Argos is shaking off its outdated reputation and is fast regaining its status as the company to watch in multichannel.
The retailer was once a pioneer – it had kiosks and click-and-collect in stores years before it became the top investment area across retail – but had been standing still before the arrival of managing director John Walden last year.
The voices of dissent about the retailer’s huge store base had been getting louder over the past few years with many retail-watchers questioning whether it had a future.
But, with a series of interesting new appointments – including yesterday’s hire of former M&S exec Adam Archer, who takes on the newly created role of head of commercial transformation – and trailblazing partnerships such as its eBay collection tie-up, Walden has hushed the doubters.
Ecommerce consultant Andy Morrey, partner at eNova Partnership, says that Argos is now the ones to watch in terms of inventing the “next big thing” in multichannel.
“The recent raft of new hires are interesting in that they revolve around business transformation and bring IT and IS at the centre of the organisation when they used to be a support department,” he says. “The interesting thing about the appointment of Adam Archer is the introduction of the word “transformation” into a senior role, recognising that multichannel supremacy can only be achieved through fundamental business reengineering from the top, and the heart of the organisation.”
Now all eyes are on Argos to see what it does next. More talent could well be on the agenda and perhaps from surprising quarters. It has already looked to another sector that has had to adapt to digitalisation - the music industry – for two of its high profile new senior managers, digital director Bertrand Bodson and head of digital innovation Neil Tinegate, both from EMI.
And the ground-breaking tie-up with eBay allows shoppers on the marketplace to pick up orders at Argos’ 700 stores.
Walden hinted that if the pilot is successful there could be an opportunity for Argos to widen its click-and-collect fulfilment to other retailers, adding another profitable string to its bow driving footfall into stores.
Bringing in Archer and focusing on IT may be a pre-cursor to multichannel innovations of this sort. Like many, Argos has been operating on outdated legacy systems and to serve the modern customers with their multiple shopping journeys and devices, a slick IT and logistics infrastructure is needed.
With its IT up to scratch, the transformation of Argos can truly begin and much like click-and-collect and kiosks, it may provide a blueprint for the rest of the retail industry.
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Analysis: Argos is becoming the retailer to watch in multichannel