Will feature a 'fast-track collection' for customers who've ordered online

Argos digital concept stores to replace catalogues with tablets

Argos is opening several digital concept stores that will remove in-store catalogues, paper, pens and stock check devices and replace them with tablets.

The concept shops, expected to open in the near future, will also be used by the retailer to test out "a number of new digital and store innovations" such as fast-track collection for customers who’ve pre-paid for products online or via a mobile device.

"With around 90 per cent of all sales still involving a store, the Argos store estate remains a key component of the Argos multi-channel model," said Argos in a statement.

"The digital concept stores will also offer a new and more flexible way to merchandise product and support supplier promotions. Additionally, these stores will trial increased levels of customer support, including specially trained members of staff equipped with technology to support customers through their journey."

The news comes as Argos parent Home Retail Group posts financial results for the half-year ending August 31st, 2013. 

Internet penetration increased to 43 per cent of Argos’ total sales, with mobile commerce growing 124 per cent to account for 16 per cent of total sales.

Sales rose three per cent to £2,596m, while like-for-like sales increased 2.3 per cent at Argos. Cash gross margin rose one per cent to £962m, with reported profit before tax at £14.2 million.

Terry Duddy, Chief Executive of Home Retail Group, said: "Argos performed well and recorded its fifth consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth. It has continued to grow its internet sales, powered by the growth in mobile commerce which now accounts for 16 per cent of Argos’ total sales.

"The Argos transformation is well underway, including the introduction of new smartphone and tablet apps, the extension of the ‘hub & spoke’ trial, the launch of a digital Christmas gift guide and the development of digital concept stores. 

"Overall we are making good progress and are in excellent operational shape as we approach the key Christmas trading period."

A statement regarding the tablet market added: "Tablets continued to be a strong driver of growth in the first half of the financial year, with Argos’ wide range of competitively priced products delivering a strong offer in a competitive market. 

"Argos expect the tablet market to continue to see strong growth throughout the forthcoming peak trading period and have recently announced the launch of a new own brand tablet, ‘MyTablet’, in the Christmas gift guide, which will retail below the £100 price point."

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