It’s always saddening to hear of high street favourites going out of business. Iconic brands such as Woolworths, JJB Sports and Comet became synonymous with popular UK retail, but act as a reminder that business can be fickle and brands that fail to prepare must prepare to fail.
Figures reveal that in 2012 there was 7,337 store closures in the UK compared with just 5,558 new stores opening. Meaning 1,779 stores ceased trading and were lost from the British High Street altogether.
One success story that I am certainly pleased to read about is retail giant Argos. Famed for it’s chunky catalogue and collection points, the store has revolutionised shopping since it’s first store opened in late 1973.
However, with the recession came uncertainty for the brand and in 2010 a huge rebrand was announced in hopes to refresh Argos and encourage custom. Although going some way to improving Argos’ high street image, its 700+ stores were still failing. It wasn’t until John Walden became Managing Director that things really started to take off for the retailer:
“In late October 2012 he outlined a five-year strategy to increase the digital share of the retailer’s overall marketing budget, improve its CRM targeting and also broaden its product range in order to attract more affluent audiences.
It also included plans to close, or at least move, 75 retail outlets as well as the axing of its iconic printed catalogues.” (http://www.marketingweek.co.uk)
The rise in Argos’ profits is largely accredited to their ambitions to become a “digital retail leader”. By promoting their online shopping platforms across smartphones, tablets and PCs, the brand has again revolutionised High Street shopping with options for delivery, check and reserve, and (in parts of London) an express 90-minute courier service!
Their customer needn’t leave their sofa to browse literally tens of thousands of products ranging from batteries to fridge-freezers, which can then be collected from a local store instantly. Argos’ apps are appealing and easy-to-use, they offer online exclusives, and they’ve even introduced QR codes to their latest catalogues – everything that Argos does is aimed at promoting their evolving digital ethos without alienating their more traditional shoppers.
All very impressive stuff, I’m sure you’ll agree. If you’re keen to learn more about what digital could do for your business, please do get in touch. There’s more to online than meets the eye.