Harvey Norman eCommerce Review

Harvey Norman eCommerce Review

Last month Harvey Norman announced the launch of their eCommerce website. We’ve had a look and thought we’d share our first thoughts. Harvey Norman have focused on the key functionality and have ticked most of the boxes to effectively sell online. Harvey Norman aren’t pushing the boundaries of eCommerce and we wouldn’t expect them to given their late entry to online retail and the very public anti online sentiment from Gerry Harvey in the past.

The biggest and most important change to Harvey Norman’s website is that you can now purchase online and this is done using the standard shopping cart and checkout approach. Other key eCommerce functionalities we looked at are:

Product Reviews – These are a new feature on the Harvey Norman website. User reviews are really important, customers trust other customers. Research has shown that reviews – even negative ones- have a positive impact on sales.

Rich media – Harvey Norman haven’t gone for innovative or boundary-pushing media such as augmented reality or a rich experience with video, they’ve stuck to the basics. They have implemented a few basic but neat features on the product pages including buying guides and the ability to submit product-specific questions.

Up-sell – there is up-sell on the website at both the product pages and in the shopping cart through specific and related items such as cables and mounting brackets for TV’s and the obligatory care policy for electrical products. This is a key area for increasing the average order value and good to see that Harvey Norman have implemented this in a meaningful way by displaying very relevant products.

In-store integration – in-store stock levels and collect in store are available, these are great additions for Harvey Norman that give the customer the option to save on delivery charges with the obvious benefits of getting customer into the store. Another positive element that will help bring some customers in-store are the in-store finance options available on each product page.

Shopping cart and Checkout – when a product is added to cart you are then taken to the cart. A better solution would be to stay on the product page as the customer may want to continue shopping. Harvey Norman have followed best practice and implemented a one-page checkout with limited reasons to be distracted or leave the page. They deal with new visitors by offering a guest checkout where only the essential details are collected. Existing customers get an express checkout option by logging in. Payment options are by credit card or Paypal. All in all the checkout is a pretty slick experience with the minimum of fuss.

Account signup and newsletter – this is implemented through capturing the minimum information of name and email address. The option is available to opt-in for the Harvey Norman newsletter; this is not provided during the sign up process and has to be discovered by the user. To achieve higher optin conversion, this should be added as a simple checkbox during the sign up process. Harvey Norman don’t give the user the option to provide further information on their interests so any email marketing will be un-targeted and therefore achieve lower engagement.

In our previous research into Australia’s retailers, Beyond The Basics – Why The Largest Australian Retailers Are Losing The Online Battle, email marketing was highlighted as a weakness for large retailers. Despite previously registering with Harvey Norman we didn’t receive any email announcing the launch of the new website and were required to re-register to set up an account on the new website.

Mobile – the new Harvey Norman site isn’t mobile ready. This is a major missed opportunity. Australia has one of the world’s highest mobile penetration rates and rapidly increasing smart-phone usage. A recent study by eBay found that 1.3 million Australians have researched and purchased using their mobile phone. The study also found that over 40% of mobile users purchase either in-store or online after researching a product on their mobile phone. Mobile commerce is not currently served well in Australia and retailers with a mobile optimised website can get a head start on the competition.

Overall we think Harvey Norman’s eCommerce website is positive for users and the retailer by providing most of the key functionality to encourage customers to shop online and in-store. Harvey Norman haven’t pushed any boundaries but we wouldn’t expect them to, given their previous public resistance to online shopping. We feel Harvey Norman could improve in email marketing – they have missed the opportunity to build their newsletter database during the sign up process and failed to promote the launch of their new website through email. Mobile commerce is also a big missed opportunity and an area where Harvey Norman could have exploited a large and growing demand.

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