While strolling around Farringdon the other day I was handed a copy of the new Argos catalogue by a cheery store employee.
Print has long been the backbone of Argos' business and no doubt still is, yet as times change digital will become a more important revenue stream.
So, here's a quick look at how Argos is adapting to the changing times...
Plugs for the app
The front cover of the catalogue features a full-page ad promoting Argos' mobile app, including a run down of the app's features and a QR code that users can scan to download it.
Unfortunately the user experience isn't quite up to scratch, as is often the case with QR codes.
The call-to-action underneath the QR code says that scanning it allows you to download the iPad app, which is obviously off-putting for iPhone and Android users.
The QR code then links you to Argos' desktop site which details how to download all of its mobile apps, but doesn't actually include a link to any of them. Instead it just advises users to visit the relevant app store and search for 'Argos app'.
There are also frequent page footers throughout the catalogue that advertise the app as a way of staying up-to-date with the latest deals and prices.
Promos for the website
Argos' catalogue mentions the website every few pages, with promos in the footer and also displayed as images on the front of mobile devices. Furthermore, there's a full-page ad on page four.
Most of the promos for the website advertise Argos' check and reserve service, which allows customers to buy online and pick up in-store the same day. It's a good way of targeting shoppers who are in a rush or need to make a last-minute purchase.
Other ads promote the fact that there's more product choice online, but in general the ads are more about raising awareness rather than actually integrating any digital element into the catalogue.
Alongside the code directing shoppers to download Argos' app, there are also a number of other QR codes dotted throughout the catalogue.
Most of the examples that I found link to third-party sites for brands such as BT and Reebok, so it seems that this is possibly a missed opportunity for Argos.
After all, if you're going to litter your magazine with QR codes you may as well include a few of your own. The Reebok QR code links to information about its fitness equipment, however it's hosted on a desktop site so is all but useless.
Thankfully BT and Zogg goggles have put more thought into their codes and link users to videos that give additional product details.
The only Argos QR code I could find linked to the company's product page for a Samsung microwave. I'm not sure why that particular product warranted a code more than any other, but presumably it came as a result of a deal with Samsung.
The landing page immediately hits you with a pop-up advertising the Argos mobile app, but once you've dismissed it you can then buy or reserve the microwave should you so desire.
It's worth pointing out that all the QR codes I found had a relevant description of what shoppers could expect to access, with CTAs such as 'scan for video' or 'scan for more information'.
In my opinion Argos' attempts to integrate digital elements into its catalogue are somewhat underwhelming.
There are constant reminders that there is more choice online and that the app allows you to stay up-to-date with the latest prices, but very little in terms of introducing interactive digital elements into the catalogue.
That's not to say that Argos should necessarily flood the catalogue with more QR codes, but there is probably room for additional product videos and potentially a few augmented reality features.
ASOS has previously used AR app Blippar to add an additional layer to its own fashion magazine, so it would be interesting to see Argos trying something similar.
The QR codes that are present within the Argos catalogue are generally well executed, though they would benefit from larger CTAs.
BT and Zogg do a particularly good job of using the technology to deliver additional product videos, and I feel there's more scope for Argos to do the same with other products.
Similarly, Argos could do more to plug its reserve and collect service, which can be an important revenue stream for multichannel retailers.
In Q1 2012 reserve and collect accounted for 29% of Argos' £819m in sales, while 86% of Halfords' online sales are now for in-store collection.
There are frequent footers in the catalogue promoting the check and reserve service, but it might be beneficial to insert a more prominent ad or some kind of short tutorial showing customers the benefits of the service.
Overall then, although Argos heavily promotes its digital platforms in the catalogue it hasn't really taken the extra step of fully integrating digital elements into its traditional print channel.