Most people in the UK will have heard of Argos. It has been around since the early 1970’s and was always rather unique in the way it operated. As unlike other shops there was nothing on display. In fact it was quite an unwelcome place in marketing speak.
In the olden days it worked something like this. You would go in to the shop, leaf through the catalogue until you found the item you wanted to buy. You would then write out the code on a small slip of paper and queue up patiently at what can only be described as a bench.
Pay for the item. Hand the slip to the Argos person, who would then magically disappear through a door and appear back a few moments later with the item you had selected.
Well for any of you who have visited an Argus shop recently you are likely to be saying –“not a lot has changed then”. Well yes and no. You still have the slips and the catalogues, the bench and the magic door.
Where Argus has really capitalised is by recognising that their business could benefit by marketing their products through a really user-friendly internet site.
The Argos product range is really immense. You maybe surprised to know that it is the UK number one retailer for beds and bedroom furniture, dining furniture, home office furniture, occasional furniture, small kitchen appliances, toys and watches.
It is the UK number two retailer in personal care, prepay mobile phones and VCRs. It is also a leading player in many other markets including DIY, gardening and consumer electronics and has a significant market share in jewellery and sports equipment.
You still have the disadvantage that unless it is displayed in the shop you can not see before you buy. But you can now reserve your item to collect from your nearest store or arrange for home delivery. This is a real time saver for a busy Mum like me and saves time trooping down to the store to find that they are out of stock.
However do be aware if you can not make it down to the shop before the 48 hour reservation deadline has passed you really do need to reserve it again. Recently I didn’t as it was only a few hours after my reserved item had expired but my item had disappeared into the ether and typically Argus had run out stock!
Delivery charges are some of the most reasonable in the market. As you can order any number of things and just pay one delivery charge of £4.95 (as long as they ordered at the same time). And that could include an iron, bedding, ironing board and even a washing machine.
Not sure about the quality or how something looks. Well Argos does offer a very good free of charge returns service. However if you can I would strongly suggest you checkout the items in question physically, that way you can check on the price Argus is offering.
Too busy to do that? Argos is also signed up with the Good Housekeeping Institute. This means that with one click you can see what Good Housekeeping recommends. Personally I find their reports very helpful when you need to compare different makes of products like washing machines or kettles etc.
Toys and kids stuff also figures very highly on this site and so can really save trekking around the shops with loads of bags. Order it and have it home delivered or if you really prefer pick it up from the shop.
The other thing I really like about the Argos website is that they sponsor a Charity, currently it is “Help the Hospices” (until July 2007).
Argos also supports Kidscape, a charity committed to preventing bullying and child abuse. Kidscape runs free one-day ZAP sessions for badly bullied and vulnerable children, which equips them with practical skills to reduce and prevent bullying.
On the environment side if you still like to use the old Argos catalogue, you don’t need to feel too guilty as both their catalogues and their plastic bags can be recycled.
They also encourage furniture, electrical appliances and mobile phone re-cycling by having all the relevant t information including telephone numbers so it is easy to contact the companies who will dispose of all the old stuff. So that is one less thing to think about.
So if you are based in the UK or Northern Ireland it is well worth a visit – if not then let me know of a store which serves you well where you are.