Argos’ new marketing campaign and Amazon’s first physical store set the standard for retailers in the digital age to follow.

Argos unveiled the biggest marketing campaign in its history this week as it seeks to reposition itself as a true retailer of the digital age.

Meanwhile across the pond, Amazon was reported to be getting back to retail’s roots with plans to open its first store in New York.

It’s only a short time ago that the view from those two boardrooms would have been separated by far more than the thousands of miles between Milton Keynes and Seattle.

But coverage of these developments has not only drawn comparisons between the two, but talk that Amazon has drawn inspiration for its latest venture from Argos, a business many analysts had written off only a couple of years ago.

Amazon’s store plans are a sign of how online and offline retail models are converging. And it’s easy to imagine how Argos’s tie-up with eBay might have sparked the thinking that is culminating in Amazon’s bricks-and-mortar plans.

But it is also testament to the reinvention of the Argos business model around today’s customer journey that it is being held up in this way. That model remains in its infancy, but initiatives such as the eBay partnership, the hub and spoke fulfilment structure and new digital stores have propelled the retailer forward at a pace that has won it many admirers. The challenge now is to maintain that momentum.

Retailers have had over a decade to respond to the challenges posed by ecommerce. But as the rise of m-commerce has shown, time to adapt is a luxury in increasingly short supply. Even businesses such as Argos, that have successfully reinvented themselves must continue to prove they can sustain that evolution. And it is here that Amazon remains the real inspiration for the market.

  • Chris Brook-Carter, Editor-in-chief