Argos iPhone app hits 800k downloads

The high-street retailer Argos is in rude health on the mobile front.

James Tarbuck Argos’s Multi-Channel Programme and Operations Manager revealed a few interesting facts at the Internet retailing 2010 conference yesterday.

The Argos iPhone app is doing very well. Since it’s launch on May 22 the app has been downloaded over 800,000 times – that’s around 180k a month – which is not bad for the summer period. And the feed back is equally good, they’ve had around 8000 reviews of the app – one percent of the total – and the average score is 3.5 out of 5. Not bad for a first time app.

Tarbuck explained that it would have been a higher rating if they had gone down the same route that their competitors have done. Which is to download the entire catalogue to the phone. However Argos chsoe not to do this because they want to give real-time stock levels so that they use Argos’s reserve online pick up in shop service. Unfortuanetly the downside is that when the phone is in a poor signal area and you can’t get the real-time stock levels it’s the app that gets blamed on the App store, not the network operator. Which is a useful mistake to learn from.

Aside from the minor problems with the reviews the app has delivered good results. Users have made over 11 million stock enquiries from the system and it’s converting iPhone users on the main Argos site, which is not optimised for mobile and isn’t a great experience, to Argos App users which does give a good experience.

Tarbuck also said that the new app hasn’t cannibalised any of the SMS users. Argos has around 6 million customers who use their Text reservation service and it seems that they’re happy to stay Text customers. The text service allows customers to text a request for a product at a particular store by simply texting the product number from the catalaogue and the store number. The service texts back stock availability and then you can reserve in-store with another text. The service was used to reserve over £30 million of stock in 2009 and it’s not going to stop. As Tarbuck says “it’s so simple to use it would be hard to produce anything easier to replace it.” Tarbuk also says that as well as an ease of use the service also has a pervasiveness not shared by the iPhone app. Argos are still a heavy SMS user, last year they sent out over 60 million texts to customers.

Tarbuck hasn’t ruled out apps for any other devices. Figures showing usage by devices to the website showed a decline in iPhone usage from 60% as the iPhone app went live, but at the same time is showed a huge increase in iPad usage from nothing to more than 20% of the total mobile traffic. In addition Tarbuck also mentioned Android as a possible platform.

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