Views and announcements

Did online shopping kill the Argos catalogue star?

  • Photo: (c) Argos

    I always wished I could pinpoint the exact moment that I stopped circling items in the ‘Toys’ section of the Argos catalogue, and the Appliances or Home & furniture sections began catching my fancy instead.

    That’s when you really knew you were making the official transition into adulthood.

    In a similar evolution, Argos announced last week that it is ditching its historic printed catalogue, choosing to fully embrace digital transformation.

    However, the decision has caused somewhat of a controversy amongst all age groups, with many taking to Twitter and other social media sites to share their opinions.

    Nostalgia appears to be a key factor in terms of those in favour of keeping the catalogue, yet many were also quick to point out the importance the iconic index has in terms of assisting the elderly.

    RELATED: Selazar: 'Levelling the ecommerce playing field for small-to-medium businesses'

    26-year-old Caoimhe McGilloway from Dungannon said that the only reason she didn’t agree with the catalogue’s withdrawal is because it gives her grandparents “ a little independence, browsing through and leaving a wee slip on the pages that they’ve picked out things they want on.”

    Argos employee Thomas Girvin thinks that “people underestimate the demand for the catalogue and how much extra traffic it puts through Argos’ doors.”

    He noted that since the reopening of the Dungannon store he works in two months ago, dozens of customers are still coming in each day asking for catalogues.

    He continued: “It’s a shame for older folk who aren’t tech savvy and may not have the internet, but currently there are no alternatives and not even a whisper internally about bringing out a future alternative.”

    However, Thomas added that he thinks abandoning the catalogue is a good way to help keep both staff and customers a little bit safer while we persist navigating through the pandemic. He said: “If we were still handing them out, I think we could quickly become a hive of infection.”

    RELATED: How are online fashion retailers staying innovative during COVID-19?

    London-based marketing expert Abdul Shakur definitely believes the Argos catalogue should go, and is an expense that is no longer needed nor safe during the Covid crisis, saying: “Not only is it a waste of paper and environmentally it's cutting down trees, but from a business point of view our attention is mostly on our phones. If businesses can't adapt to e-commerce or social media they will fail in the long run.”

    Mark Given, chief marketing officer at Sainsbury's - which owns Argos, said: “"Just as our customers' tastes have changed over the years, so have their shopping habits. We're seeing an increasing shift towards digital shopping, using our mobile app, website and in-store browsers."

    The retailer announced that more than 70% of all its online sales are indeed now done on tablets and smartphones, but added that it would still produce a print version of its annual Christmas gift guide – possibly for the delight of wistful shoppers.

    Reminiscient consumers can still find all of Argos’ old catalogues available to browse online too though, as the company published all its ‘books of dreams’ digitally last year.

    RELATED: Digital transformation has saved businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak

    During the global health pandemic, ecommerce has definitely emerged a winner. Not only has it gotten the better of the poor Argos catalogue, but 35% of all UK online purchases during lockdown were made via Amazon, and the use of mobile apps and payment methods increased by 33%.

    40% of people that visited a brick-and-mortar shop one week after they reopened in the UK on 15 June also said that the in-store experience was ‘less enjoyable’ than their experience before Covid-19, suggesting that online shopping usage is only set to intensify.

    21-year-old Melissa Roberts is one person taking advantage of the ecommerce rise.

    Based in Yorkshire, she recently launched Kidcrowd, a free online platform which allows parents to create a personalised page for their child.

    The link can then be sent to friends and family for them to send a monetary contribution for the recipient to save up towards their desired gift.

    Melissa said the idea came as when she was a child, and her parents couldn’t always afford to buy her the presents she wanted, she found she received a lot of smaller novelty gifts, often made of plastic that didn’t get much use.

    Melissa believes that by allowing people to give money towards a child’s preferred present, it reduces plastic toy waste and teaches kids the value of money.

    It may not entail the visual thrill of circling games in a chunky book, but it appears to be the more environmentally wise option, and is part of the ‘new norm’ that the tech acceleration of Covid-19 is continuing to cause in different ways.

    Sources: BBC News, Econsultancy

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

    Got a news-related tip you’d like to see covered on Sync NI? Email the editorial team for our consideration.

Share this story