Current and Future Relavance of Business Excellence / Improvement to Argos UK Ltd. Possible Benefits and Likely Inhabitors Exists

Argos is now a proud registered owner of numerousbrands and rapidly expanding its business to the next levels. Businessexcellence or in other words business improvement is Argos is one of the largest unique and successful general-goods retailers inthe UnitedKingdom and Ireland with more than 800 stores around. Thebest part is; it is a catalogue merchant, which means it primarily displays their goods by catalogue and customers make their selections topurchase through a computer and take down the item number plus check theavailability, pay, and then collect the items from an in-store collection deskor get it delivered to their home. It is acceptable that this system is moresecured and the people who work at Argos don’t have to bother much about shopliftersor time wasters plus other time consuming facts like maintaining displays etc. Becausemost stock is held in stockrooms to which only staff have access, much morestock can be held per unit floor area than can be held in a traditional shop. Ina traditional shop it must be displayed as to be appealing to the customer;however in Argos, most customers shop from photographs of items in thecatalogue or online but still Argos rules the retail market. Argos has followedthe footsteps of US Montgomery Ward extremely well and implemented a wholenew system in UK’s general goods retail industry. So, the conclusion we can getout it is, displaying goods in highly cost glass cabinets is not what makes abusiness run but the business excellence theory they follows. Thinking out ofthe box which made them successful and it is what essential to set up abusiness in its initial stage and one of key factors for business improvement.

With over 130 million customers a year and theUK’s most visited high-street retail web site in year 2008 Argos is stillreigning in the industry. Argos implemented a more flexible and user friendlycustomer service system through their journey with various reservation channels.They settled on a mobile channel, a quick and instant medium to interact withthe Argos brand which ultimately leads to increased sales and stronger brand loyalty.Argos ‘Text and Take Home’ service, allows consumers to query and reserveproducts from the Argos catalog by sending a text. It is taking their businessto the next level with new technology and customers using Argos’s text servicehave a variety of reasons to use it. They are receiving instant reminders, theywon’t lose the information like they might with a misplaced print-out, it hasno cost, it has great “green” appeal.

Business improvement or if I say businessexcellence is the key factor of all the success and growth of Argos during thepast few years. It is relevant to the both present and future activities of theorganization. Business excellence was their key to open the doors to horizonand it brought a whole new concept to Britain’s general goods retail market.

The magical word ‘Business excellence’ is what the systematic use of qualitymanagementprinciples, theories and tools in businessmanagement,with the mission of improving performance and growth based on the principles of customer focus, stakeholder value, and processmanagement.For Example balancedscorecard,the Six Sigma, Lean, process management, and project management are such tools.
Argos is based on a strong process management foundation. From the moment they print thecatalogues, distributing them and up to handling a transaction at a store takesa lot of effort and knowledge of planning and monitoring the process. And the proof for that they are already handling it successfully is the remarkable chainwhich is flowing without any gaps and the successful growth rate which is abovemarket. Above all; 800 stores all around United Kingdom and Ireland whichhandles over 14,000 transactions daily, serving more than 50,000 customers.

Business excellence, as described by the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM), refers to “outstanding practices in managing theorganization and achieving results, all based on a set of eight fundamental concepts.” These concepts are:

  • orientation on balanced results
  • focus on customer value
  • leadership and constancy of purpose
  • management by processes and facts
  • people development and involvement including continuous learning
  • innovation and improvement
  • partnership development and
  • public responsibility

According to the EFQM model, Argos isdoing extremely well and has implemented the whole system successfully. ‘Orientationon balanced results’ is a visible outcome of the organization and ‘focusingcustomer value’ is at a high degree. But innovation and improvement factor hasto be considered more by Argos. Implementing a catalogue merchant system alone itselfis somewhat an innovative idea but improvement has to be continued by addingmore brands and competitive choices and ultimately ‘focus on customer value’fact too will be taken care by this little addition. It will be a benefit forthe organization and a likely inhibitor for the future business improvement, oryou can say business excellence. Improving the business / business excellenceis the key factor of the success, expansion, growth and the entire future ofthe whole organization.

When it comes to public responsibility, Argos ishandling it quite well, by reducing the amount of resources they use and theamount of CO2 emissions they produce. Some of their recent achievements showthat they are actually successful taking care of this part. For an example;more than 78% of the wastes they produce were recycled during the past fewyears 90% of wood is sourced from known and legal sources, Argos catalogues are100% recyclable etc. In future they can improve and get more benefits byoperating their business in a more responsible and sustainable way, such asachieving more recycling rates, reducing their energy consumption rates andreducing landfill tonnages etc. Enhance their reputation and manage theirresources effectively in the face of rising costs will lead them to a highdegree of business improvement.

The importanceof business process improvement can be discussed further inorder for a business to stand firm and be effective continuously, leadershipmust be planned well and oversee the organization from top to bottom. If anorganization has a clear picture of what they are doing and their day to dayactivities, they stand a better chance of achieving long term financial, publicand overall sustainability. A crucialcomponent in understanding, solidifying and enhancing operations is a practiceknown as business process improvement. As we discussed above business processimprovement is the key to success of an organization, whether it’s a soleproprietor, partnership or a limited company. The size of the company isactually really don’t matter.

To improve the business and achieve more in businessexcellence it is important for Argos to maintain a proper customer database sothat theycan get in touch with the existing customers. Contact customers through anemail, letter etc to inform about new products, price decrease about similarproducts they purchased during their last visit would be a good idea and mightboost the sales. Most of all it is a great way to keep in touch with the loyalcustomers and remind them that the business is ready to serve anytime withgreat interest. Argos has to constantly look for ways to encourage repeatbusiness. Although marketing and advertising are important factors to get morecustomers, quality, service and customer satisfaction are what keep a businesssuccessful and alive in the long run. Argos must consider about this and it’s apossible benefit for its future prospect. Plus it is important to bring morebrands to the competition so that customers have various choices to pick withinthe giant brand names they love. For an example when it comes to music playersApple, Sony, Phillips is already there in the store and why not adding anothermiddle range music player like Zune or Sandisk to the competition to make ittough and appealing. It’s a potential approach improving business. Registeredwith another brand name will not be a loss in the long run if you make thedecision wisely by examining the market trends. As the market is wide and thelevel of economy among the customer has lot of differences and it’s a mixedcultured society it is obviously a positive step. After all it is beneficial toboth customer and the company.

Setting clear newstandards for the company is essential to achieve business excellence and itwill add effectiveness and efficiency to the existing strategies. For examplereview how effective Argos advertising is, and some other measurements of wherethe business has been. Set some benchmarks and periodically assess how thebusiness is doing. It needs to know what they consider an improvement beforethey can start to improve on it. Review Company’s relationship with their employees too is somewhatimportant in the long run as it’s hard to find good and trustworthy employeesall the time. Argos must cherish the treasure they own. The next this is Argos must explore new markets or improvemarketing.

Argos TV launched on Sky TV and online this year and it is abright and another good approach. Viewers are able to purchase items andcollect them from local Argos stores through the retailer’s “check andreserve” service. It is certainly a fresh and great idea to get closer tothe customers and achieving business excellence / business improvement in agrand way. It’s easy for the customers and on the other hand it boosts thensales of the company plus gaining publicity for the products and the goodwillof the company. It is somewhat taking business to the next level and blendingwith new market and digital trends by Argos. If they can go into social mediamore than they are in currently, it will be an advanced step for them. Forexample setting up a twitter, facebook account and keep in touch with thecustomers and introducing their products will help them to access a widecustomer base than they actually have at the moment. And in the meantime it isimportant to stay alert with current social media trends, competitions etc. Sothat it helps to gain lot of attention from internet and other social medianetwork users. It is somewhat taking Argos’s capabilities to the next level inE-commerce.

Achieving business excellence or in other wordsgaining an improvement in business is really important to a company /organization because it is all about making an organization perform better,produce better profits, achieve success, and deliver its aims. The whole theoryof running a business depends on the above mentioned factors. It’s aboutdelivering real bottom line improvements in performance to private and publicsector organizations. Expanding business and find new markets is always achallenge. It’s true that the idea of expanding overseas is likely to be bothan exciting and terrifying prospect to retailers; the substantial rewards on offerare higher revenues, higher margins, profit maximization, increment of marketshare and the ability to militate against single marketdependency. However, even though these new markets may bring newopportunities for growth, it is still important to remember that the process ofinternational growth presents a number of unique challenges in itself. Afterall, international expansion is about a lot more than just adding shops; it’sabout an introduction of a brand to a new market, and the chance to replicatethe success that the business has enjoyed domestically. Now it’s time for Argosto take up the challenge. It is matured enough to stand alone and handlefranchises. If UK market fails to generate and maximize the profits, it stillhas its roots to survive as a vast company. Although it already has stores inIreland and it is not a big deal to expand its horizons further more.

Since Argos launching their “Textand Take Home” in 2004, millions of customers have used the service and itgenerated hundreds millions of pounds of sales to Argos. Argos’s mobile channeldelivered over GBP 100 million of incremental revenue putting Argos on top ofall general goods retailers. The service has generated over 100% year-on-yeargrowth of the user base taking Argos’s annual uptake of 60% new users providedwith a real multi channel experience. This highly successful service hasreceived several awards including the “Revolution Awards: Best InteractiveServices on Wireless Networks” and the “Retail Week Awards: Retail TechnologySolution of the Year.”

Since Argos has many competitorsnow, it is important to expand their business and explore new markets toprotect their position in the industry and introduce new methods and trends asthey always used to do in their history. Argos is currently experiencing thematuring stage of the business. It is important to maintain the form and abovementioned methods will do the trick handily. When the organization steps in tomatured stage in about another few more years there will be a slight drop ofprofits and form of the organization as well as the entire process of thebusiness. Business excellence or in other words improvement in business willdrop down to a visible degree. It’s the nature of any kind of business or if Isay an organization / company. To avoid that it has to go with the latesttrends and explore the capacity of its own. Trends come and go and during thiswhole time, it is visible to everyone that Argos has survived and protectedit’s stability as a company through all its good times and bad times. In futureArgos has to move with digital media more often to survive and protect itsposition in general goods retailers’ market. It is a must for them to explorenew markets to expand their business. Argos’s new implementation of the systembased on cloud computing is remarkable and brought some new hopes to the old,boring shopping system we had in our early ages. It is important for them tomaintain their form and innovative ideas as the rapidly increasing customerbase expect more from them as the time passes by through a technologicallygrowing and developing world.

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