UK retail giant 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 point of sale systems, to manage customer communications and to 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 wifi.

From a design perspective, 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. The project also allows the retailer to more efficiently manage its marketing, logistical business processes and to provide customers with a more interactive experience.

“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” said 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.”

Quick facts:

  • Argos modernises in-store experience with digital signage
  • Signage moves Argos from print to dynamic pricing
  • Argos now capitalises in-store on its outstanding e-commerce success
  • Retail industry first: unique signage and stock management integration
  • Integration of Social Media
  • Project expected roll-out across more Argos stores in the UK

Argos StoreArgosconceptstore_oldstreet
The solution
To create a vibrant in-store network capable of promoting any one of 33,000 products at a moment’s notice without significant manual effort, Pixel Inspiration deployed a digital signage network to seven Argos stores, four of which are located in London. The highly scalable digital signage network, running Scala Content Manager and the Scala Player, is directed not only at in-store customers but also at click-and-collect customers and at outdoor pedestrian traffic. It supports a large number of screens, typically arranged to form several 2×2 videowalls. Content is targeted at these walls based on their position in the store, with one screen always dedicated to welcoming the customer into the store and showcasing the staff on duty. Displays around the perimeter of the ‘customer browsing zone’ typically feature product promotions, with different product categories targeted at different zones. In addition, the payment and collection points are supported by up to 16 more displays, arranged over two video walls. Argos uses these video walls for flexible branding in the area: each till can be branded as a customer collection point or a ‘fast-track collections’ area at the touch of a button.
Argos store argos-conceptstore
Integration of Social Media
The digital media platform also enables Argos to maintain consistency with its  online channels.  The company’s Twitter and Facebook feeds can be directed to screens, which provides additional content for customers to read while they wait.

“Scala and Pixel have been a great combination and have done a fantastic job in bringing the digital media to life in-store. It’s been a very challenging project to deliver it. I think we have pushed the boundaries and we would not have been able to do that without Scala and Pixel’s cooperation.” Carl Nield – Head of Brand Marketing – Argos

How Scala met the challenge
The extremely large footprint and stock size at Argos meant the company needed a digital signage solution that could deliver content that matched the current in-store conditions at all times. The signage network had to be able to show current pricing and use live, local stock data to decide which products get promoted. Pixel Inspiration were mindful from the outset of the project 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.

“As a very experienced online retailer, Argos already had excellent APIs that exposed product, pricing and stock information,” said 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. By simply adding a valid catalogue number (SKUs), the system is able to automatically create, distribute and play-out a piece of digital POS in any store.

To create additional retail theatre and media sales opportunities, Argos can execute a store-wide content ‘takeover’ using network triggering provided by Pixel. During a ‘takeover’, a single brand ad or promotional message runs simultaneously across all in-store screens for maximum impact. In addition, each store is linked to the local weather station, which enables Argos to promote weather related products on-screen as appropriate. Pixel Inspiration manages the entire network for Argos, liaising with the retailer’s marketing department who briefs the system integrator on the content strategy and the products to be promoted.

“Scala is a great platform; it gives us the opportunity to grow our ambitions going forward” 
Simon Bentley – Store Format Development Manager – Argos

Capitalising on digital
Argos had already put a lot of work into its online services. The retailer is running one of the busiest UK e-commerce websites and can now capitalise fully on its highly sophisticated backend services to move its in-store environment forward. “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,” concluded 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. “

Argos-Digital-concept-store-Old-Street-1Argos Stores

About Argos
Argos is a leading UK digital retailer, offering around 43,000 products through www.argos.co.uk, its growing mobile channels, stores and over the telephone.  Argos continues to be the UK’s largest high street retailer online with 738 million website and app visits in the 12 months to February 2014.  Argos serves around 123 million customers a year through its network of 734 stores.  In the financial year to February 2014, Argos sales were £4.1 billion and it employed some 29,000 people across the business. Argos is part of Home Retail Group, the UK’s leading home and general merchandise retailer. For more information, visit http://www.argos.co.uk

About Pixel Inspiration
Established in 2004, Pixel Inspiration was created by the founding partners, Frank Emerson (MD), Nikk Smith (Technical Director), Barry Bugg (Operations Director) and Darren Thomason (Creative Director). The company’s mission was to become the UK’s leading implementer of digital signage and out of home media solutions with three main benchmarks:

  • Outstanding customer service
  • The best price performance solution
  • The right content in the right place at the lowest total cost

Pixel have every skill required to implement nationwide advanced, data driven digital media solutions including technical consultancy, project management, content design & production, installation and maintenance services, all covered under the banner of our Managed Digital Signage service. We believe that digital signage should be an integral part of a business’s larger communication strategy and, as such, we provide the tools and techniques needed to integrate digital media into businesses at the lowest possible cost. For more information visit: http://www.pixelinspiration.co.uk.