LONDON: Argos has had a major presence on the British high street for more than 40 years, but the catalogue retailer has managed to survive because of its successful embrace of e-commerce, according to two agency observers.

Jason Andrews, Associate Director at AllTogetherNow, and Josh Roth, a planner at CHI & Partners, have taken an in-depth look into how Argos used effective marketing and pioneering digital initiatives to give itself a complete brand reboot to meet the demands of the modern online shopper.

In an article for the current issue of Admap, which is offering practical advice to retail brands on the challenges of omnichannel retailing, they said it had been essential for Argos to reach out to a new consumer group known as "Super Shoppers".

This multichannel, high-value group of premium early adopters previously held negative perceptions about the Argos brand, which traditionally appealed to consumers on lower budgets through its extensive network of high street stores.

Recognising the threat to its business from changing consumer tastes and fast-moving competitors, Argos quickly deployed a business strategy to turn itself into a digital leader.

In many ways, the company was always something of an innovator – it being the first retailer in the UK to offer a form of Click and Collect back in the days when customers browsed in-store from catalogues.

Its network of more than 750 high street stores, which are like mini-warehouses, also has responded well to growing consumer demand for convenience and speed.

But to further appeal to the new breed of "now consumers", Argos had to position itself as fast, dynamic and convenient, Andrews and Roth said, and that meant reinventing its communications to behave in a more reactive, agile and relevant way.

"While mass awareness was traditionally generated by TV, Argos had to work hard to convince a new audience of its digital retail credentials in the channels in which it was active," they said. "Shouting about it above the line was no longer enough; it had to be proven at every touchpoint."

One solution for Argos was to move into time-sensitive marketing, so that it could react quickly to events, competitors and user activities on any given day.

Black Friday, for example – although a relatively recent shopping phenomenon in the UK – provided Argos with the opportunity to set up "newsroom" teams, who could monitor competitors' ads, check for stock, design and create an ad, and then target it at their online audience within minutes.

Another imaginative initiative used huge interactive billboards at London's busiest train stations to attract attention and cement the brand as mobile-friendly and local. In other words, a national brand that offered convenience at a local level.

"Although still in their infancy, the transformed Argos brand and communications are beginning to have an impact," Andrews and Roth concluded. "Online transactions now represent 49% of total Argos sales, a substantial figure for a retailer with over 750 high street stores."

Data sourced from Admap