Harvey Norman has finally launched an eCommerce site, despite the reservations of its chairman Gerry Harvey, but measures are in place to soften the blow for bricks-and-mortar franchisees.
Harvey has been a vocal opponent of online retail for years, resisting calls to take his operation online out of concern for his franchisees.
Earlier this year Harvey finally relented, launching daily deal site Harvey Norman Big Buys, which sells a limited number of discounted items in bulk, although it doesn’t affect franchisees.
But his new site, known as Harvey Norman Online, features a variety of products from categories including white goods, personal care, consumer electronics and audio visual products.
It also discloses that orders on the site are processed by “the eCommerce Agency Pty Limited (trading as Harvey Norman Online), an independent franchisee”.
The website offers consumers the option to “buy online [and] pick up in store” or choose “home delivery”, with products being dispatched from the consumer’s nearest Harvey Norman store.
Delivery charges range from $5.95 for small items delivered within 20 kilometres of a metro region to $199 per box for bulky items delivered to remote areas more than 100 kilometres from a regional centre.
Some items, such as iPads, can only be picked up in store.
Meanwhile, the new site allows customers to compare items, see customer ratings and reviews, and view multiple product photos.
The company is promoting particular products in its range with “bonus offers”, including bonus gift cards, as well as value add-ons such as bonus maps on navigation products.
In addition, individual product category pages on the website, such as gaming, computers and cameras, feature their own “Hot Deals” listed at the bottom.
There are up-sell opportunities on individual products too, with options to add warranties and product care plans to purchases.
Harvey Norman Online is also linked in with the company’s social media presence, giving consumers the option to share their favourite products via Facebook, Twitter or email.
Harvey had previously dismissed the internet as a profitable sales channel, casting doubt over whether it could make any money for his company.
He has also criticised the Federal Government for allowing consumers to purchase goods from offshore suppliers without paying GST on items under $1,000.
However, he recently admitted he was under internal pressure to launch a fully-fledged online operation.
“I’ve got a whole heap of people who work at Harvey Norman who are telling me I’m mad for not doing it,” he said.