This article was first published in the Autumn 2014 issue of Speak
UK retailer Argos, traditionally known for its catalogue-based ordering and in-store warehouse-connected purchasing experience, is now using digital technology to make its customer experience more interactive.
Argos has completed the first phase of a new digital strategy deployment across seven stores in the UK. In each store, a Scala digital signage solution enables Argos to drive digital POS to manage customer communications and deliver a comprehensive in-store brand experience to customers.
Implemented by systems integrator Pixel Inspiration, the deployment also sees tablet based in-store product browsers replacing print catalogues, and the addition of a 60-second fast-track collection service alongside free in-store wi-fi.
The aim of the digital stores project is to transform the Argos in-store environment for customers, making it digitally-led and consistent with its online channels to provide a more interactive experience. The retailer can also more efficiently manage its marketing and logistical business processes.
“Argos is known for its competitive pricing, but traditional, print-based methods of communication make it difficult to communicate accurate information at a granular level,” says Nikk Smith of Pixel Inspiration. “When you’re printing several million catalogues containing over 30,000 products twice yearly, the management of product information, including pricing, simply can’t keep pace with digital channels.”
The highly scalable digital signage network, running Scala Content Manager and the Scala Player, is directed at in-store and click-and-collect customers, as well as outdoor pedestrian traffic.
It supports a large number of screens, typically arranged to form several 2x2 videowalls. Content is targeted at these walls based on their position in the store. Displays around the perimeter of the ‘customer browsing zone’ typically feature product promotions, with different product categories targeted at different zones.
Pixel Inspiration was mindful that any functionality implemented for the initial seven stores should be scalable without any fundamental change to several hundred locations. Scala, with its rule-based scheduling, dynamic templating and real-time data support, provided the toolset needed to create such a network.
“Argos already had excellent application programming interfaces (APIs) that exposed product, pricing and stock information,” says Smith. “Pixel Inspiration capitalised on this by creating a Scala configuration that was able to query these APIs and retrieve the details of any product marked for in-store promotion. This keeps costs for content management down and ensures parity between the in-store and online customer experience.”
Scala messages were created, which included the ability to specify the catalogue numbers of products needing in-store promotion. Using a valid catalogue number, the system can create, distribute and play-out a piece of digital POS in any store.
Argos can also execute a store-wide content ‘takeover’ using network triggering provided by Pixel, which sees a single brand ad or promotional message running simultaneously across all in-store screens.
“The way the Scala digital signage solution queries such a complex product and stock information environment in an automated manner is still relatively unusual in the world of digital signage,” concludes Smith. “The first seven stores are a first step and we’re really pleased to be involved with such an exciting project with this forward-thinking retailer.”
Share this story