Harvey Norman, while being slow to embrace online shopping in general, has refused to miss out on the m-commerce phenomenon with the release of its first mobile-optimised website.
Harvey Norman has launched a mobile optimised version of its e-commerce website.
More famous as a naysayer of online retail, Gerry Harvey’s sentiment toward digital certainly appears to be changing, as the company continues to invest in becoming digitally competitive.
The mobile version of the site has a focus on utilising geo-locational data to connect customers to their nearest store, providing contact details, product availability and directions. All the same promotions and information that is available via the regular Harvey Norman site has been adapted for the mobile version in order to suit growing trends in consumer behaviour.
“The access-anywhere use is what makes the mobile website such a valuable tool for shopping,” says Gary Wheelhouse, General Manager of Digital for Harvey Norman.
“Researching a product often takes place on the fly, and not necessary when you are sitting in front of your computer. With our new mobile site users can find anything from big screen TVs to coffee machines from wherever they happen to be.”
For Harvey Norman’s business, mobile is a way for online to be tied back into the in-store experience, and this can be seen as great news for franchisors that may perceive the virtual world as a threat to bricks-and-mortar business.
“The store finder is just so important in the mobile website,” Wheelhouse says. “We want to continue working to personalise this offering for each of our customers, thereby reinforcing that idea of ‘their local store’.”
This is a big step for the furniture and electronics retailer, which has recently announced rounds of profit downgrades following a sequence of tough trading for the previous financial year. It also goes someway to allay suspicions that Harvey Norman CEO, Gerry Harvey, doesn’t ‘get’ online retail.
“Of course, I am aware of the perceptions out there,” Wheelhouse says, “but the truth is that Harvey Norman is very much invested in online being a key part of our ongoing strategy.”
While this isn’t the fastest adaptation of a website to the mobile environment, it’s certainly ahead of the curve, with only 15 percent of online businesses in Australia having affected the upgrade to date.
This then begs the question: what’s next for Harvey Norman’s digital offerings?
“We’ve been very successful over the year in picking the right categories early on, and we have a very broad offering in terms of available products,” explains Wheelhouse. “We need to ensure that we continue optimising the digital experience to encompass these varying categories. Beyond that, the statistics around tablet use in consumer behaviour are of high interest to us. We’re going to be working hard to innovate in that space.”
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