Argos in same-day delivery push ready for Christmas

By Emma Simpson
Business correspondent, BBC News

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Argos has upped the ante on home deliveries by becoming the first British retailer to offer a same day service across the UK up to 22:00, seven days a week.

And it says it will operate the scheme, named Fast Track, 364 days a year.

The service, will cover Argos's 20,000 most popular products.

John Walden, Chief Executive of Home Retail Group (which owns Argos), said: "Argos led the way with click & collect 15 years ago."

"And customers can continue to shop with us in the traditional ways if they choose to. But we believe Fast Track is the next big innovation and brings shopping into the digital age for customers, allowing them to get up to 20,000 products in their hands faster than ever before. No other retailer can offer the breadth of products immediately or at that speed."

Customers have the choice of four time slots every day, including up until 22:00 for a flat fee of £3.95.

'Hub' stores

Can Argos crack same day delivery and, more importantly, afford it?

Earlier John Lewis started charging customers £2 to collect online orders in store worth less than £30 saying it could no longer swallow the cost of free delivery.

Argos believes it already has the necessary infrastructure in place to keep costs low.

Last year it rolled out a new delivery system across the UK. In addition to its big warehouses, it has around 150 larger hub stores which can quickly replenish its smaller stores with the most popular stock.

Now it's in the process of hiring almost 2,300 permanent drivers to make home deliveries from these hub stores. It's also recruiting 1,000 temporary drivers to help them over the peak Christmas period.

Ultra fast

With 80 shopping days until Christmas, Argos hopes to steal a march on its rivals over the increasingly important battle over delivery.

"Customers increasingly look for multiple delivery slots that allow them to shop how and when they want on the same day," says Bryan Roberts, from Kantar Retail.

Argos is still not the quickest.

Earlier this year, Amazon launched an ultra fast service, Prime Now, allowing shoppers in parts of London and Birmingham to order via a mobile app and get their products within an hour. But you have to subscribe to Amazon Prime to use it.

Argos has now thrown down the gauntlet to the other traditional retailers this Christmas.

Bryan Roberts reckons it's showing its rivals a "clean pair of heels" with this new nationwide service.

Retailers compared on their delivery policies:

  • Amazon: Prime members get one-hour same-day delivery in London, Birmingham and some surrounding areas for £6.99 or select a free two-hour, same-day delivery slot between 08:00 and midnight. Prime membership is £79 a year.
  • John Lewis: Free delivery on orders over £50, delivered in three to five working days. £3.50 for orders under £50. Larger items can take seven days to deliver.
  • Currys and PC World: Same day, next day evening and Sunday afternoon delivery to London, Greater London and other selected postcodes. Same day, next day evening and Sunday PM all £9.99 - Sunday between 8am and 5pm £7.99.
  • Boots: Free home delivery on orders over £45, delivered in four working days. Order before 7pm for next day delivery.
  • M&S: Standard home delivery £3.50; free delivery on orders over £50. Order by 22:00 for next day delivery (£3.99).
  • Toys R Us: Free delivery on orders of £29.99 or more.
  • Next: Same day home delivery for £4.99, order by noon Monday-Thursday, order by 11:00 on Friday.

Source: Argos

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