What’s on your digital agenda?

Image courtesy of Argos

Image courtesy of Argos

The changing shopping patterns of consumers that are increasingly going in a digital direction are seeing our core retailers and hospitality providers backing numerous technology innovations.

Digital channels are now truly in the mix and are only expected to continue to grow in popularity as they become the norm and fit seamlessly into peoples’ lives. By focussing on these convenient and flexible channels the companies that are in the know believe they can secure further growth.

Right now the digital innovations to watch include:

Google Glass

This wearable technology is slowing creeping into the market as wearers begin to enjoy the benefits of voice-operating technology. Typical actions include instructing the glass to ‘Take a picture’, ‘Record a video’, provide directions and ‘Send a message’.

‘Transumer’ lockers

Collection points for click and collect online orders are popping up at station locations nationwide including temperature-controlled versions for food groceries. The collection points are proving hugely convenient for busy consumers who want to pick up their shopping on the way home from work and the like.

Pre-order apps

Coffee shops and takeaways are taking advantage of smart phone apps that allow customers to place an order on the go and have it waiting for them on arrival. Such convenient tools are cutting queues and waiting times and encouraging customers back timer and time again.

Table side service

Restaurants are improving their customer service and turning around tables faster than ever through table side service. The latest tablet technology allows the diner to order, track and pay for food at the table without having to depend of the busy waiting staff.

Mobile concierge

Hotel guests are getting used to the ease of mobile-enabled check-in and room selection, mobile key room entry, as well as room service all through their smart phone or tablet. On top of this the hoteliers are taking note of the customer requests to personalise the rooms for future stays.

Augmented reality apps and 3D printing

Retailers particularly those with bulky products are using apps and 3D printing services to allow consumers to visualise their customised product, a sofa for example, and see what it might look like in their living room at home.

Home Retail group that owns Argos and Homebase is one such company with a digital agenda. In line with this thinking Argos is now bringing music and games into its digital mix, and recently took its mission to become a ‘digital retail leader for everyone’ several steps further with the hosting of a live Google+ Hangout on Air.

As part of its new ‘GET SET GO ARGOS’ campaign Argos combined music, technology and real-time social media to deliver a unique digital experience within its own Argos’ digital store on Old Street, London. Crowds gathered in store and online to watch the event that featured an actual appearance from Katy B.

Argos’ digital concept stores are one of its biggest ever developments – it now has 48 stores across the UK which offer Fast Track 60 second collection for online orders, and tables of iPads for shopping. Argos has also trialled a number of small-format digital stores, and the retailer plans to have around 50 of these trading by Christmas 2014.

Stephen Vowles, Marketing Director at Argos, said: “We are really excited about our transformation and we want everybody to realise how much Argos is changing with our new campaign. Music is an important theme in our campaign and we thought what better way to celebrate our transformation than by bringing a headline music artist like Katy B together with the opportunity for live social media interaction in the technology-led setting of one of our digital stores. Being the first event of this kind streamed through the YouTube masthead, it’s another example of how we are continually innovating and repositioning our business as a digital retail leader.”

Laura Flewitt at Mindshare said: “We knew we needed to deliver a really joined up campaign with digital at its heart and by bringing together Argos’ brand, Google’s technology and Katy B’s talent we think we have a great demonstration of how Argos is inventing the future for retail.”

Continuing its digital journey Argos has also just released a mobile game aimed at commuters passing through London Waterloo and Euston Stations. Bundles of Argos prizes are up for grabs via a mobile site accessible by smartphones.

Carl Nield, Head of Brand Marketing, said: “Mobile channels present a huge opportunity and with the number of customers using mobile devices to shop with us continuing to grow, we wanted to create a fun and interactive way for them to engage with Argos in a convenient location. We are proud to be the first retailer to use the prestigious Motion@ screens in such an innovative way.”

Argos reports that sales via mobile devices have reached 22% of total Argos sales, growing by 45 per cent in the 26 weeks to 30 August 2014.

Following in the footsteps of its sister store, DIY retailer Homebase is now also transforming itself and digitising its in store, online and mobile channels that will see the opening of 19 digital concession stores. Chief executive of Home Retail Group John Walden said: “Homebase is a good business with the basis for future growth. In this context, Homebase will pursue a three-year plan through to the end of the 2018 financial year to improve the productivity of its store estate, strengthen its propositions and accelerate its digital capabilities by leveraging Argos’ investments,” he said. “This will position Homebase as a smaller but stronger business, ready for investment and growth,” he added.