back to article Laminate this: Inside Argos' ongoing online (r)evolution

Think Argos and you think catalogue: The Laminated Book of Dreams, as comedian Bill Bailey puts it, placing thousands of products from crayons to cookers within the easy reach of eager shoppers. Go ahead, laugh it up, but that book introduced a brand new way of shopping in beige 1970s Britain. Shopping from a catalogue was the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who remembers Green Shield Stamps?

    What I like about shopping online with Argos, is the ability to order online and then pick it up in-store the same day or have it delivered.

    Getting "stuff" delivered is a pain when you're at work all day, particularly when the muppets they employ as delivery drivers think it's ok to leave the parcel "in a safe place". I'm not sure about you, but I don't think dropping it into the wheelie-bin counts as a safe place...

    1. stucs201

      Re: Who remembers Green Shield Stamps?

      I have (laminated) notices for the delivery muppets on the lids of my bins, they actually seem to work..

    2. AndrueC Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Who remembers Green Shield Stamps?

      What I like about shopping online with Argos, is the ability to order online and then pick it up in-store the same day or have it delivered.

      Last time I tried that (which was quite a long time ago) the web site was rather odd. When you told it your location it gave a list of local stores. But you had to click on each store in turn to find out which (if any) actually had the item in stock. It seemed like it had been designed to frustrate.

      Ah, they've improved it. Now under each store in the list it tells you when you can collect it, today, three days, four days. That's a lot better. Might be worth considering that as an alternative to Amazon.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Who remembers Green Shield Stamps?

        "Ah, they've improved it. Now under each store in the list it tells you when you can collect it, today, three days, four days. That's a lot better. Might be worth considering that as an alternative to Amazon."

        I needed another hard disk the other week. For various reasons I wanted a specific make/model of external USB 3.0 drive. A google search surprisingly put Argos as the first result so more out of morbid curiosity than anything else I had a look. Not only was the price reasonable, it was only about 50p more than the cheapest I could find and was in stock at the local branch 5 mins down the road. I reserved on on-line and less than an hour later it was plugged in and running. Excellent. Other retailers could learn from this, including the likes of Amazon, Ebuyer etc.

    3. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Who remembers Green Shield Stamps?

      Who remembers "knights of the Green Shield stamp and shout"?


  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    " We want to get to a point where we are adding to that range of products and making it more specific to customers.”

    And we know what that means. Buy a camera, for instance, and every time you visit the site the muppets offer you more and more cameras ignoring the fact that that's the item you're least likely to be looking for this time.

    1. AIBailey

      Perhaps. Amazon seem quite bad for that. Shouldn't take too much consideration to be offered memory cards, camera bags, lenses etc. instead.

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        Or order a printer cartridge, and it will suggest some printers to put it in. That's not the way I work. I don't think it is the way anyone works.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Hi Doc Syn.Glad you said that. It had to be said.

      Have a beer.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's not even buy a camera, get camera ads.

      Too many websites also over keen on trying to sell you stuff based on pages you have viewed without purchase (hint if I looked at it a few weeks ago & did not buy then either I purchased elsewhere or when I checked the spec, it did not meet my requirements)

    4. captain veg Silver badge

      muppet ads

      I had reason recently to purchase some items of swimwear online from Marks and Spencer. Now on the rare occasions I use a browser without ad blocking, all I get is ads *for those exact same items*. What kind of fuckwhittery is that?


  3. Anonymous Blowhard

    Argos are a good example of a retailer who's leveraged their core strengths of location (lots of them), stock control (knowing what is where) and product range (anything that can fit in a box and sit on a shelf without deteriorating) to offer an alternative to mail order for those who "want it now" or can't get time off work to wait for a delivery at home. Good that they've been able to innovate themselves into the "Internet age"; a possible next step for them, when the technology matures, is to 3D print some products so they can increase their range of products without having to hold stock.

  4. Nick Kew

    Ten years ago ...

    Argos was far-and-away the best online retailer when I moved house back in 2005. A website that worked nicely, backed by a system that never screwed up over inventory and fast, efficient delivery. When you have to equip a place from scratch, you really notice who is or isn't any good at it, and one thing I won't forget is being without a fridge-freezer until I cancelled my order with AN Other who had messed up and placed one with Argos instead, whereupon it arrived first thing the following morning.

    How could they improve on that? What a shame the market punished them for a perception of that tired old catalogue rather than rewarded them for getting things right, so now we get a whole bunch of superfluous gimmicks.

  5. GlenP Silver badge

    True story about their systems (which are, I accept, geared to domestic sales).

    Needed a new shredder for the office, they had one on offer with free delivery, so ordered it. Duly delivered next day, no problem, until I wanted a VAT receipt. They no longer supply these with delivered orders. So I had to email Customer Services to request one, someone in (I guess) MK then typed the details into an Excel spreadsheet which they emailed as the invoice.

    1. Terry 6 Silver badge

      But they did it. That's service.

  6. Chris Miller

    Argos can hardly claim to have invented catalogue shopping, I remember it as a big industry in the 60s (and it had been so, I understand since the 30s), when catalogues of a similar size to the Argos one would thump onto the doormat from Littlewoods, Kays, GUS (Great Universal Stores) and others*. There was more emphasis on clothing, since the range on the local high street was pretty limited and there weren't many household goods beyond TV, vacuum and washing machine. The majority of items were sold on the 'never never' and all were delivered by post, which was where Argos scored by introducing a physical presence into most location.

    * And young boys would eagerly thumb through the 'underwear' section when mum was out - innocent pleasures!

    1. Mage Silver badge

      GUS *IS* Argos!

      See title and later post!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: GUS *IS* Argos!

        Argos was part of GUS:

        1. Chris Miller

          Re: GUS *IS* Argos!

          I didn't realise that, thanks. Doesn't change my view that suggesting (as the article seems to do) that catalogue shopping came in with the Argos brand in the 70s is misleading.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: GUS *IS* Argos!

            "Doesn't change my view that suggesting (as the article seems to do) that catalogue shopping came in with the Argos brand in the 70s is misleading."

            I think it was just poorly worded and failed to distinguish between shopping at home by browsing a catalogue and then posting/phoning the order through and waiting a few days as opposed to the Argos model of browsing the catalogue in-store and picking up the goodies there and then. Next also did this.

            Catalog shopping from home and placing an order by post is a long and old tradition. The civil servants etc running the empire bought stuff this way from London. As did the trappers and pioneers in Canada via the Hudson Bay Company. And many of the pioneers of the "West" in what became the USA.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: GUS *IS* Argos!

              "Next also did this."

              As did Littlewoods with their "Index" high street stores. According to Google they sold half the stores to Argos in 2005 when they closed that part of their operation.

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: GUS *IS* Argos!

                That change over the years can be measured in the size of the phone book in the 1970s, compared today and the completely opposite change in size of the Argos book over the same period.

                I remember when the Argos catalogue was no bigger than a monthly magazine.

                Same thing happened with Maplin, but have they completely forsaken bound catalogues now for Web?

                There used to be a feat of strength to tear a phone book in half. Now a child can do it.

            2. Hollerith 1

              Re: GUS *IS* Argos!

              In 19th and early 20th century Canada,p eople could kit themselves out with a whole house, a buggy, kitchen and farm equipment, including waggons and sheds, furniture, clothing, books, you name it, all from the Eaton's catalogue. And the old catalogue was nicely recycled as bog roll when the new one came in.

      2. alpine

        Re: GUS *IS* Argos!

        GUS is also Experian. And Burbery. And Homebase. I'm so glad my grandfather bought GUS shares back in the 1930s, that my family still hold. They've been split into separate businesses, but their ethos remains the same.

  7. Buzzword

    Paper catalogue beats digital, sometimes

    I liked the paper catalogue. You could flip to the page on e.g. TV aerials and quickly compare the entire range, see the different features of each, and generally bask in the information density offered by the printed page. Some pages had additional text boxes explaining e.g. the difference between Freeview and Freesat. All this is lost in the app.

    It's not a huge loss, but it was a clear differentiator over Amazon. Now there's little to choose between them except convenience and price.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Paper catalogue beats digital, sometimes

      Come to my local shopping Centre. There are literally pallet loads of Argos Catalogues at each entrance.

      It ain't gone away but IMHO contains less information useflu for comparions than it used to do.

      So now I browse it online with other windows open on amazon and the makers sites. Even then it can be hard to get the full specs of something.

      I was recently in the market for a new TV. Lots of TV's have a FreeSat tuner but not all of the specs show it.

      In the end I went into my local John Lewis store, and after peering at the range of connectors on the back I ordered the TV from them. Job done.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Paper catalogue beats digital, sometimes

      "I liked the paper catalogue. You could flip to the page on e.g. TV aerials and quickly compare the entire range, see the different features of each, and generally bask in the information density offered by the printed page"

      Like the Maplin catalogue :-)

  8. wyatt

    Argos, doing some things right and some wrong.. ordered online and it was delivered damaged due to lack of packaging. Customer service arranged collection, re-delivered (having requested better packaging) with the same damage and lack of protection. Customer service arranged collection, so far they've tried to collect from the wrong address twice. Not Yodels fault as they only go with what they're told but very very frustrating for us as the customer.

    On top of that refunds are a 7 (working) day wait, once the item is received and processed back into the warehouse. Another week almost 2 to wait for our money back.

    1. launcap Silver badge

      Not Yodels fault?

      It's *always* Yodels fault.. especially when they comprehensively fail to read the simple (not using long words or complicated grammar) delivery instructions and leave £200-worth of wine on the doorstep in full view of the road..

      I suppose I'm lucky that they just don't chuck it over the fence. But that would involve the driver putting in some thought and effort..

      1. dogged

        Re: Not Yodels fault?

        Yodel put my laptop in a "safe place" - next door's bin. And left it open. And it rained.

        Thanks guys.

        The annoying part was that I'd stayed home to collect the delivery but apparently actually ringing a doorbell frightens their drivers. So they just dumped in it in the neighbour's bin.

        1. Rusty 1

          Re: Not Yodels fault?

          Do you know how much training is required to sneak up to your property, covertly slip that "Sorry you were out" note through your letterbox, slam dunk the package in the neighbour's bin, and Foxtrot Oscar the heck out of there with out being caught?

          OK, sometimes they do take the short cut of leaving the package in the van and just deliver the note, and the really sly ones don't even have the package in the van, but have left it in the depot. Saves fuel.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Not Yodels fault?

            I've actually been sat behind the door putting my shoes on when they posted the card on. The look of terror on his face was priceless when I asked him why he hadn't knocked. He spluttered he had at which point I pointed out if he had, he would have the parcel in his hand.

            A lot of looking at shoes at muttering apologies whilst he shuffled off to the van proceeded.

            However in their defence (as my dad used to be a delivery driver) it's management / company share holders are the problem, when you have about 30 seconds to deliver, providing there are no delays on your journey, you can hardly blame the guys.

            1. dogged

              Re: Not Yodels fault?

              Yes you can.

              You can blame them for a) failing to unionize and b) staying in such a shit job.

              1. anothercynic Silver badge

                Re: Not Yodels fault?

                Yeah, like unionising is going to solve the problem...

          2. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Not Yodels fault?

            I've caught one on his way back to his van after dropping the leaflet. Absolutely did not attempt to knock or use doorbell.

            1. spiny norman

              Re: Not Yodels fault?

              When my monitor was delivered recently, the bell rang and I went to the door, to see the Yodel driver heading back to the van. So, based on past experience, I yelled at him not to go. He said he wasn't leaving, on a high value item he wasn't allowed to bring the parcel out of the van until the customer opened the door. He seemed like a nice guy and I really wanted to believe him.

  9. auburnman

    "The idea is that rather than tell a customer their Argos store is out of stock, Argos can tell them instead when they can expect the product will be ready for collection."

    They went downhill with this one recently in my opinion. Not sure if they've reversed the policy now but last time I was looking for something I could pick up *that day* and was checking the stores in reasonable travel distance they had really obfuscated whether they were actually carrying what I needed or not.

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      they had really obfuscated whether they were actually carrying what I needed or not.

      It seems okay now. Under each store is a message saying something like 'Reserve before 1pm, collect until 4pm' or 'Reserve before 1pm, collect in 3 days'. It might be helped by a check box that allows you to filter out stores that don't have the item in stock though. Currently you can only see half a dozen local stores and would have to click to see more if none had it in stock.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "last time I was looking for something I could pick up *that day* and was checking the stores in reasonable travel distance they had really obfuscated whether they were actually carrying what I needed or not."

      Same problem the other day with Screwfix - surely they can't all be on collect next day for a Dremel disk.

  10. jason 7

    Just checked their PC component prices.

    I'll stick with Amazon thanks.

    1. Boothy

      Re: Just checked their PC component prices.

      and I'll stick with ebuyer or cclonline for components thanks.

      1. jason 7

        Re: Just checked their PC component prices.

        Hmm I check them regularly but they rarely ever come out cheaper than Amazon, plus I have Prime next day delivery so anything is free next day.

        Really handy to be able to order a £5 part on Saturday and have it delivered by courier on Sunday.

  11. Mage Silver badge


    Great Universal Stores is same company. Argos & Homebase was originally a Mail Order catalogue company.

    I've seen one GUS catalogue dated 1932

    1. jonathanb Silver badge

      Re: GUS

      Homebase used to be a division of Sainsburys before Argos bought it.

  12. Yugguy

    I like Argos

    I prefer it to Amazon in that I can actually go to a shop and collect the physical item rather than waiting/hoping for a delivery.

    1. Quip

      collect the physical item

      That's why I like collecting from Amazon locker. Although it was better when Amazon delivered by Mail: I could collect from the delivery office ½ mile away whereas Amazon locker is 1 mile. Nearest Argos is also about 1 mile maybe I should try them sometime.

      1. auburnman

        Re: collect the physical item

        I've always said Argos should be a pick up point for Amazon - storing stock in the warehouse until the customer comes for it is 90% of their business anyway, getting a slice of Amazon's action and getting a customer into their store where they may see adverts or make impulse buys seems like a no-brainer.And amazon could have some of the benfits of a High Street presence without picking up the tab for it.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: collect the physical item

          I found it interesting the casual mention of the "Click & Collect at Argos" eBay service, whilst it may not be a big part of the current business, it certainly seems to going in the right direction.

  13. graeme leggett Silver badge

    Another original selling point

    Was that Argos was cheaper than other places. It used to be an element of the catalogues - their price shown against the RRP (MRP)

    But one thing they didn't do which Littlewoods etc did at the time was the buying on credit (weekly payments) - which put prices up over the high street price.

    1. muddysteve

      Re: Another original selling point

      The credit was good, as long as you understood what it meant. It was interest-free, but you did pay recommended retail price. Mind you, at the interest rates of the time, it still wasn't a bad deal.

  14. Nixinkome


    I thank Argos for providing a very quick way of finding out what price range a product should be in.

    If I'm really interested, I can do a local availability and price check online.

  15. Grubby


    The customer base is very, very old when compared to competitors, and getting older. 60% of HRG profits come from their ridiculously expensive store card.

    They'll go the same way Phones 4u went as they add no value to the model, if you want something you can often buy it direct from a manufacturer via a number of sites as companies like Amazon open their sites up and step out of the sales bit and choose to make their profits from space on the page. Companies that buy something, add a profit on top and then sell it will always be more expensive and the expense only there because they add an unnecessary step in the process.

    1. Tom 38

      Re: Dying

      I ent dead yet...

      Not buying the "no value added" argument either. They add value by having a large range of items available for instant purchase at online prices on the high street.

      Must be a nightmare for you when you want to make a ham and cheese omelette, you have to tour 3 different farms and a butcher...

    2. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Dying

      Argos are one of those businesses that can easily strike you as utterly pointless (when I was a teenager, I assumed they'd be gone by the time I'd grown up), until they happen to be just what you need (since I grew up, bought a house and had kids, I find Argos to be incredibly useful).

      Being able to order, pay and collect on the same/following day is really bloody useful.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Dying

        But what retailer doesn't do "click & collect" now? Even Currys do it.

        John Lewis do it free over £35, but charge £2 otherwise.

      2. spiny norman

        Re: Dying

        Conversely, my kids, growing up in the 80s and 90s, couldn't imagine how anyone could write "a letter to Santa Claus" without the Argos catalogue to hand. Including the item codes also made life a lot easier for Santa.

  16. Nathan 13

    Fast delivery

    A few weeks ago I ordered a screen, and paid £9 to use their Shuttle delivery. The screen was at my door 15 minutes after I ordered it.

    Fastest home delivery ever!

  17. Boothy
    Thumb Up

    API driven integration

    Sounds very much like MuleSoft, which I'm currently evaluating to add to our portfolio offerings.

    Create an API layer over your applications, thus effectively hiding all the underlying technology (file transfers, MQ, ODBC etc etc). (e.g. Add new employee to HR system, Add new employee to Finance system etc).

    Then add a business process API layer over those, that pull your applications together into meaningful business functions (add new employee to all required systems (which then calls the App APIs).

    Then your 'experience' (Mules terminology) APIs over these, which you expose externally (mobile apps, partners applications, web sites etc.).

    That way you can change your applications (updates, tech refresh, replacement, move to cloud, move to 3rd party etc etc), and it doesn't break your business APIs or the externally facing experience APIs (changes should be transparent to these layers). Although this does mean designing your APIs properly to start with. (i.e. don't add constricting limitations into your APIs, just because that's how the current back-end application works).

    These separate API layers are not mandated, just considered best practice (by Mule).

    I've come from a more traditional integration background (IBM Message Broker, ESB and Gateway systems, file transfers, MQ etc). API driven integration seems like a refreshing change to me.

  18. Cosmo

    I quite like Argos

    In the January sales last year, I was looking for a new camera. Argos had one in stock just down the road from work. I ordered it from my desk and picked it up a couple of hours later on my way home from the station.

    I've also used their home delivery on things like mattresses and beds when I bought my house a few years ago and that "just worked" too.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a huge admirer of Argos's transformation model

    They are creating the template for the digital high street. I'd ask them for a job if they could only afford me

  20. Winkypop Silver badge

    Argos catalogues

    Fair to middling kharzi reading material, not so good as poo-tickets, paper too shiny.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    USed to be nice until they turned to the dark side.

    I used to like argos but then my local store turned all digital.

    That would be fine except that they have ipads everywhere. Like most people I feel physically sick at the thought of having to use an apple product or deal with a company that's given them money. So now I buy my stuff elsewhere. It's a pity. Argos was very convenient but they lost the plot with this.

  22. eJ2095

    Worst i used was PC World click and collect

    They was doing a deal on tablets so i reserved one..

    Went to store to pick it up to be told its not in stock..... (More like the staff bought it)

    Case of WTF

  23. HmmmYes

    My only comment is that my kids (8 + 10) love Argos.

    Its the only shop they ask to go to.

    I'm not sure what it is that appeals to them but they will spend hours (well, minutes is all Ill let them) looking stuff up on the computers.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      It's the free pens. Kids love free pens.

  24. JimmyPage Silver badge

    Yodel ...

    I was on a conference call by my (home) office window last week. Facing the road. Saw an anonymous white van pull up. Driver gets out, walks up path. Hearing no doorbell, I assume the Missis, who's in the lounge (i.e. by the front door) has dealt with it.

    Imagine *our* surprise when next day, we find a card jammed into the letterbox (so you couldn't see it from the inside) from Yodel, telling us we'd "been out" when they tried to deliver.

    Collected the parcel from a neighbour who said the driver "had rung your bell, and banged your door for ages" ...

    Bollocks he did. CCTV (which will catch a lot of lying towrags out - vis dashcams) shows him neither ringing the bell, nor knocking. Just carefully folding the postcard up to ensure it remained hidden till next day.

    If your job is really *that* boring, why not change, rather then waste your life ?

    1. GrumpenKraut

      Re: Yodel ...

      There are only few things that I consider a reason to fire an employee immediately, this is one.

      Exact same situation for me, stopped the van on the road (blocked way), got my parcel (almost had to hurt the idiot). Guy was _still_ snotty after all of this. Other country, so not Yodel (funny name!).

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        Re: Yodel ...

        That does deserve a good bollocking, yes. I have no compunction in reporting them in public on Twitter to the Yodel team. To be fair, their SM team are pretty hot on the button, so when crap like that happens, they call the driver and tell him to go back and deliver the parcel tout de suite.

  25. Drefsab_UK

    The wost thing about how the argos site and app used to be stock. If you want an item you had to go search a very limit number of stores, if they didnt have it you had to think of other area's and then search that way.

    It was so bad someone setup the 3rd party website which lets you put in the item number and postcode and it gives you a list checking all stores from nearest to furthest to find your item. Theres been many a time we have driven a fair few miles out of our way to call into a store that had what we wanted.

    The next worst thing with Argos's online experience is ordering items for delivery that are on sale/reduced. My grandad was having a whole kitchen replaced, so we ordered everything from, cookers, fridge, washer, dishwasher, dryer, extractor hoods, spash guards ... and loads more. Each and every item we ordered was advertised as in stock and avilable for delivery at the time of ordering. At several points we had called to check everything was ok and it was, but the day before when we called to check all of a suddend they said there was a problem only 2 items out of the whole order were going to be delivered they couldnt get the rest of the items. This is after we had paid for gas engieners/electricans etc to fit them on the day of delivery (hes disabled so we wanted to make sure the interuption was kept to a minimum).

    It took days of messing about trying alternate products finding out they werent available trying others etc until we finally could get a replacement for each item he needed which then came weeks later (meaning more costs for engineers etc to install them etc).

    All in all the whole process was one of the most painful online shopping experiences I'd ever had and one I wont be wanting to go through ever again.

  26. Lewis Burgess


    I find it hilarious that I can now drive to Homebase in town, tap on a tablet through the Argos digital catalogue, to order something. Which will be delivered at some point and possibly involving me having to go back out to get it.

    Or I could just open the laptop and do the same thing without mingling with potential morons in the store and have someone shove it through my gate when I'm not in or to Reception at work.

    That said, Argos didn't bother to fulfil my previous web order. Promised delivery but then forgot to mention they'd run out of stock, after I ordered it. Way to go! *clickety to Amazon instead*

  27. Ed Mozley

    Search function in shop

    I pop into my local branch of Argos every now and then and use the machine to search for something rather than the catalogue. The problem is the search is truly awful - words must be in exact order and you can use similar words - eg door knob will not find door handle. Often I give up and use Amazon iPhone app.

    1. Hollerith 1

      Re: Search function in shop

      Agree -- the Search should be much, much smarter. But about 20 years ago I bought through Argos a little tank that was then a cutting-edge MP3 place. It didn't work, they replaced it, didn't work, and finally I just returned it and got my money back, but the call centre people I spoke to were so lovely and unfailingly helpful and courteous that I had a soft spot for Argos from that time on. I now regularly check them out for goods and either have them delivered or pick up (just down the road). I find their proces good and their returns easy: just pop into the shop. The counter staff are slow, but on the whole I think they have a good website, a fast delivery service, a good range, and have got the high street/online balance pretty much right. I'm just about to buy a coffee machine from them.And I still remember the older lady and the young Scottish bloke from their call centre. Hope they had a good career there!

  28. Stretch

    Dear Argos,

    I will rebuild your crappy Websphere site onto a lovely hybris Accelerator site and I will do it for free, as I could not trust anyone else to do it right. Your IT supplier knows who I am.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Dear Argos,

      You have a point. I went onto their Homebase site a few weeks ago to get a 404 error. Thought I'd check out Argos just to see if it was some sort of DNS issue or something, but 404 there too. Very similar to going to on a typical Monday morning.

      Wickes got my business.

      1. Stretch

        Re: Dear Argos,

        For reference, Wickes runs the software I built for their website.

  29. fidget

    Buy a house, mail order!

    In the USA, the mail order company Sears, Roebuck and Co used to sell kit houses (full size) by mail order. To avoid the obvious problems with the delivery address (no home for someone to be in at) the kit homes were delivered by railroad box car. I don't think Argos can top that. For more details see

    Talking of topping, in 1973 the world's tallest building (Empire State, of course, in New York) was beaten by Sears Tower in Chicago.

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