Argos is taking on Amazon with a same-day home delivery service for the UK ahead of the Christmas rush, provided customers pay an extra fee.
The retailer is using its network of 840 UK stores, alongside its delivery centres, to fulfil its offering from Wednesday – having hired 3,300 drivers to run a fleet of 800 vans.
Argos said its seven-day Fast Track service was aimed at “revolutionising online shopping” in the run-up to the industry’s busiest time of the year, Christmas.
A total of 20,000 of the retailer’s 50,000 products were available under the scheme. Customers have the choice of four time slots every day, including up until 22:00 for a flat fee of £3.95.
It marks a major investment in Argos by parent firm Home Retail Group, which would not comment on how much it had spent.
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.”
Bryan Roberts, Senior Vice-President & Knowledge officer for EMEA at Kantar Retail, said: “Delivery has emerged as one of the key battlegrounds for UK retailers, as customers increasingly look for multiple delivery slots that allow them to shop how and when they want on the same day. In terms of customers being able to order online as late as 6pm and receive products on their doorstep that evening, Argos is showing its rivals a clean pair of heels with this new speedy nationwide service. While having the right offer at the right price will be as crucial as ever this Christmas, there will also be a sprint finish on the nation’s roads to deliver the goods the same or next day.”
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.
With 80 shopping days until Christmas, Argos hopes to steal a march on its rivals over the increasingly important battle over delivery.
Earlier this year, rival 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.