Argos lets customers shop via Google Assistant

Argos has launched Voice Shop, enabling shoppers to reserve 20,000 products from more than 850 Argos stores using voice technology.

Customers can now reserve for same-day pick up by using the Google Assistant on most Android devices, iOS or smart speakers like Google Home. After a quick confirmation on their smartphone their order is ready for collection.

It is also now possible to ask Google to search for products, check availability and find their nearest store. Unlike other voice services used by retailers, customers can use Argos Click & Collect to pick-up purchases from a location of their choice.

As part of the initial launch phase, Argos will be seeking feedback from customers on the new service so that its technical team can develop the technology further and improve the experience.

Six in ten sales at Argos now start online, according to the company, yet 80 per cent of orders are fulfilled in-store, as shoppers use Click & Collect and Fast Track services.

Chief executive John Rogers said voice technology has the potential to revolutionise how people shop in the future. “Digital home assistants have soared in popularity over the past year and people are increasingly looking to their smart devices to help with the smooth running of their lives,” he added.

Naji El-Arifi, global head of innovation at Salmon, said that his firm's recent research showed 55 per cent of shoppers said they like purchasing through voice-activated devices.

"For Argos, this represents another channel through which they hope to stave off strong competition from Amazon as its Amazon Echo device moves into more homes," he commented.

However, the move will not necessarily mean instant success, as the same study found 78 per cent of consumers still have concerns over voice shopping, such as devices listening in to conversations and 83 per cent ordering items without their permission.

"As voice and gesture devices become more mainstream, and even brain-computer interfacing edges ever closer to reality, retailers and brands need to act early to make a play in the market," concluded El-Arifi. "Voice experiences take time to develop, require plenty of AI training and trial-and-error before they can be fully functioning."

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