Argos is smart to start trading-up customers’ old tech

I wonder how many unused gadgets the average person has lying around their home? The pace of technological change is such that I suspect most households have at least one previous generation smartphone or tablet in a drawer somewhere.

In fact, the UK as a whole has about £1 billion worth of retired tech tucked away, according to electronic equipment recycle firm, Wrap. And Argos has become the first retailer smart enough to capitalise on this opportunity, by teaming up with Wrap and inviting consumers to trade in out-of-date digital items at their stores.

This seems like a win-win scheme; shoppers get Argos vouchers in return, which they can use to get the latest generation gadget, and they don’t have to dispose of the item themselves; the retailer gets additional custom and some positive publicity; Wrap gets lots more lovely devices to reuse or recycle, reducing the electronics industry’s contribution to UK landfill.

It’s surprising that a scheme like this hasn’t been piloted before – at least, not on the scale of what Argos is planning – but I guess this must be down to the financial, logistical and promotional investment needed to make it a success. However, those who haven’t boldly gone down this route may not realise how clever Argos is being, aligning itself with a technology recycling scheme.

Argos has undergone a major strategic overhaul over the last 12-18 months to reposition itself as a digital-first company (including the launch of a digital concept store on London’s Old Street), and this latest move brings customers into its tech-savvy community.

The recycling scheme is sending out a clear signal: ‘because we’re a company on the cutting edge, we know that you crave the latest technology, and we’re going to help you make that upgrade in an environmentally friendly, financially beneficial fashion’.

Not only does this court custom in general, as the exchange of vouchers will encourage shoppers to make their next technology purchase with Argos, it attracts a specific segment that is interested in electronic gadgets.

These are the early adopters, the boundary pushers; the type of customers likely to embrace in-store technologies such as self-service order points, find them of benefit, and return to the store in future because of them.

So Argos is smart to start trading-up customers’ old tech – because this could well be the scheme that unites digital-first shoppers with their technology-led ambitions.