Brands I’ve missed: #13 Argos

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Strictly speaking, this is not a brand I have missed, or even thought about at all over the two decades I have been away from the UK.

In fact, upon returning and discovering an Argos branch still plying its trade in downtown Lewes, my initial thoughts were more along the lines of “I can’t believe this dinosaur is still breathing”.

For those unfamiliar, Argos is best described as a ‘catalogue shop’.

Pop in store, leaf through the giant laminated catalogues that sell just about anything, locate your product and fill in a slip with the relevant catalogue number (using one of the strange stubby pencils they provide), pay for it at the counter and then have your product delivered to you in their Doctor’s-style waiting zone within five minutes.

They even have some of their sexier products on display so you can get to see them.

To be fair, years ago, in a pre-internet age, Argos did have a certain cachet. A place you could go to check out some of the latest gadgets – Betamax video recorders, radio/cassette players, Psion organisers…all the cutting edge kit.

But in today’s Amazonian world, the idea of leaving your home, flicking through a catalogue and then having a product retrieved from some warehouse out the back seems a bit archaic.

And it seems that the financial market shares these views with recent financial reports not making for very positive reading.

It makes you think that surely Argos can’t survive much longer, after all, for consumers in today’s digital world, it’s all about  variety, convenience and immediate gratification. Once they have seen the product they want, a couple of clicks and it’s on the way. What could be simpler?

Brands like Amazon (and many others like them) have spoiled consumers, giving them massive choice and an easy way to buy. Sure you have to wait a few days for delivery (and hope you are home to receive it), but hey, it’s worth it for the ultimate in modern day convenience.

But let’s just think laterally for a moment here. Just imagine if Amazon was to open a high street branch! Somewhere you could order your desired products (from a catalogue maybe?) and then pick them up right there and then to take home with you. Wow!

Now there’s a forward looking retail concept if ever I hear one – I wonder if anyone has ever had the vision to think of it?

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