After nearly 50 years, Argos pivots away from the printed catalogue

Did you know that Argos no longer prints a catalogue, and hasn’t done so since 2020? I must admit, it’s been a few years since I shopped at Argos or even thought about picking up a catalogue (which probably speaks volumes).

All the same, I was taken aback when I heard the news that the catalogue had been binned. 

The Argos catalogue has earned cult status in British culture, and reading about its demise definitely brought about a pang of nostalgia for me. I was immediately transported back to fond childhood memories of flicking through the book and circling things to add to my Christmas wish list. 

After taking a moment to reminisce I started to realise how big a move this was for Argos. Their entire model was built around the catalogue. They offer a shopping experience like no other. A shop powered by the now-retired catalogue. One with virtually no products on show. Where stores are simply a few catalogue stations complete with the infamous small pens and order slips, a couple of checkouts and collection desk. 

To scrap the catalogue would have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago. But as with so many other walks of life, tasks, processes and experiences that previously happened offline have now been replaced with digital alternatives. And the time must have been right for Argos to take such a bold move. What puzzles me is how the prospectus has slipped under the radar and managed to remain largely unchanged for half a century. 


Largely unchanged for half a century

The example above illustrates this perfectly. It shows a selection of prospectuses produced by the University of Birmingham going all the way back to 1972. And in large there’s little change over a 50 year period.

Perhaps the reason that the prospectus has stuck around for as long as it has is because suitable alternatives simply haven’t been there. Argos have continually improved their website over the last 15-20 years, giving them the confidence to scrap the catalogue. But the same can’t be said for the prospectus. Digital alternatives are limited to inaccessible, unusable pdf flipbooks, or expensive, untested bespoke affairs. That is, until now. Prospectus+ has been developed to bridge this gap. To offer a digital first solution to your prospectus that offers users a personalised, relevant, shareable experience away from your main website.

The image of a stack of Argos catalogs is courtesy of the fantastic

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