Home Retail Group outlines Argos digital development plans as online sales grow

Argos saw online sales reach 44 per cent of its total sales last year, with mobile commerce growing by 89 per cent to account for 18 per cent of its total sales year on year, as its parent company Home Retail Group sees Argos chief John Walden take over as CEO.

Home Retail Group announced an overall 3 per cent increase in sales to £5,663m, with a reported pre-tax profit of £71.2m.

Of those sales, Argos brought in £4,05.1m and Homebase achieved £1,489.2m, with a combined profit for the year of £54m.

Last year, Argos saw customer registrations reach 11.6m, while it also trialled six digital concept stores. Meanwhile Homebase saw multichannel sales jump 53 per cent.

John Walden, who has replaced Terry Duddy as CEO, commented: "The Group has delivered a good performance in what remained a challenging market. Both retail businesses recorded positive like-for-like sales for all four reporting periods, resulting in 27 per cent growth in Group benchmark profit before tax. We also made good progress with our strategic plans in both businesses, which will become increasingly important in a competitive retail environment where shopping behaviours are changing rapidly."

Explaining how it plans to ‘reposition’ Argos for a digital future, the company said that it plans to build on digital initiatives such as the launch of its ‘My Account’ function across its online channels, as well as its ‘1click’ reservation service, which will include the redesign of its online checkout to include ‘flexible payment and credit card options’ while improving its search functions and how it presents real-time stock availability by location as well.

The retailer will also aim to improve the personalisation of its online shopping experience, and add a scheduling system to narrow time slots for home delivery. A new payment infrastructure to improve safety for customer data is also on the cards.

Argos will also extend the trial of six digital concept stores to 25 by next year. These were introduced during the Christmas period, which included online payments, fast-tracked product collection and a voice-driven picking system, while it also replaced its laminated catalogues with tablets.

Last week, The Drum revealed that Bertrand Bodson, who was digital director at Argos, had been promoted to chief digital officer for the Home Retail Group.

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