Editor’s note:Today’s post comes from Rob Sargent, Senior Digital Product Lead at Argos, one of the UK’s largest retailers, and a company on a mission to offer outstanding convenience, choice, and value, both online and in its stores.
At Argos, we sell more than 89,000 products from washing machines to games consoles to clothing, so we have a very broad customer base. Which means we are very focused on providing convenience for our customers.
For example, our almost 2,000 locations across the UK are not like other stores. Instead of wading through aisle after aisle, customers can order from the online or in-store catalog and collect their items from a checkout desk, making for a quick and easy shopping experience. It’s helped us get 29 million customers into our stores every year.
Although our roots are in brick-and-mortar stores, we’ve adapted well to the rise of online shopping. Our website sees a billion visitors every year; digital sales participation is currently around 70% and we do our best to make things as convenient as possible for our customers. By letting them choose a specific time for their delivery instead of just the day, for example.
I manage the digital product team at Argos but I also get my hands dirty working on our digital location services. We need to be able to track where our stock is and where it needs to get to. We don’t have a single, centralized distribution center like the traditional retail model. Rather, we spread our products out around the different regions and stores for collection so that we can deliver more quickly.
That’s why location services are very important for us and why we need a mapping solution we can rely on. For us, the answer is Google Maps Platform. We don’t want customers to travel very far or wait too long before they can get their products. Sometimes our online customers are only browsing rather than buying. We built a store locator, an interactive map, for them to see which locations are within easy reach. They can also use the stock-checker on our product pages to see which particular stores are carrying the items they want.
Bringing online and in-store shopping together with Google Maps Platform
As well as improving our interactive maps, we’ve also used Google Maps Platform to highlight more convenient features for our customers. With our Click and Collect service, customers can browse and pay online for items which they can then pick up from a store of their choice if they don’t have time to wait for deliveries. Alternatively, with our Place and Reserve service, those who want to reserve their items can pay on collection.
We’ve since translated the convenience of Place and Reserve to our in-store experience. Customers can now browse and reserve a product using our in-store platform, but pick up from a separate collection point if that’s more convenient for them. For example, if a customer wants to buy a new TV, they can look for it in a store near work during their lunch hour. Then, instead of picking it up there and carrying it all the way home, they can choose to pick it up later in the day from a different store, one that’s much nearer to their house. In the six months since we adopted Google Maps Platform, we’ve seen more than 40,000 customers use this service. And most represent a new sale that would otherwise have been delayed or lost by a lack of available stock at the right location.
In early 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the United Kingdom went into lockdown and our standalone stores were shut. Thanks to our partnership with the Sainsbury’s group, however, we were able to use Sainsbury’s supermarkets as collection points. In the midst of a quarantine, we obviously want to encourage people to stay at home while ensuring that they can get hold of the products they rely on every day. If delivery is not an option, with Click and Collect, we can help customers to find, pay for, and pick up their purchases as quickly and safely as possible, along with their grocery shopping.
Thanks to our partnership with Sainsburys, we’ve added a whole new network of supermarkets and smaller stores to our network of collection points. Over the next year, we’ll be highlighting them on our interactive maps to show customers all their options. We’re also working with the Directions API to give website visitors not just the location of their nearest stores but also instructions on how to get there. We’ve already used Google Maps Platform to help our customers in so many ways, and we look forward to keeping that mission going strong.
For more information on Google Maps Platform, visit our website.
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