Harvey Norman is heading for a second year of double-digit profit growth, as record low interest rates and rising house prices fuel demand for furniture, whitegoods and homewares in Australia and overseas.
That was the headline. What I think you can really see is the maturing strength of omni-channel retail. Replicating online what customers have always loved about retail stores - whether that is a great range of products, great product information, inventory availability, LiveChat with real people, and convenience, is paying off. You can't just be muti-channel anymore - you need to connect your customers to your stores to your products to your people. And give them a great experience, in-store - online - or mobile. You are building an ecosystem. As Gerry Harvey said, “The strength of our Omni Channel Strategy and the benefits of the integrated Harvey Norman system continue to shine through with this result. Our business has shown positive momentum for some time now, and it’s great to see improved segment performances in the half year.”
And shine it does - as we have seen from the great retailers of the world, omni-channel is paying real dividends when you can leverage your physical stores and your people close to where your customers are. Macy's, Nordstrom, Target, etc are all utilizing "Click and Collect", and "Ship From Store" to both get products to customers at speed, and drive even more traffic into stores. This is also clearly being driven by the mobile phenomonem. Having customers shopping on their device of choice close to where you have stores and exposing the inventory in those stores is great for everyone. Customers get instant gratification - "Click and Collect" is quick and it might not always be the store close to where you live or where you work, it might just be the most convenient store that day. Click and Collect returns the physical store to relevance. And "Ship from Store" is all about speed to deliver - customers want your products and they want them now. You have great people and great stores with inventory close to where customers live and work - use your advantage.
In the end the customer is in charge of their shopping experience - its humans when you need them - technology when you don't. And its working.