The first high street retail chain in Britain – possibly the world – to offer ordering facilities by mobile phone text messaging, this week launched its Text & Take Home service.

The new venture by catalogue retailing giant Argos enables customers to select goods at home, the office or even in their car – then check prices, stock availability and place an order at any of Argos’ 477 outlets via the mobile’s text facility.

At which point the hi-tech element jolts to a grinding halt and customers travel back in time to collect and pay for their purchases from the local store in the good old-fashioned way.

Around one billion text messages a month are being sent in the UK alone and Argos clearly believes it can cash in on the fad and at the same time steal march on its competitors. It remains to be seen whether the GUS-owned chain is setting a lasting retail trend for time-strapped shoppers or is merely riding the crest of a nine-day wonder

Boasts Argos managing director Kate Swann: “We are always looking at new and innovative ways of making shopping easier for our customers. This unique way of ordering goods follows the successful installation in a lot of our stores of quick-pay kiosks in which customers can fast track the ordering and paying system by using a credit card in a kiosk.”

The new service will be backed by a major TV campaign in the run-up to the Christmas holiday season.

Data sourced from: BBC Online Business News (UK); additional content by WARC staff