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WEBINAR OVERVIEW Exuding luxury through the omnichannel experience: the Harvey Nichols story

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In a recent InternetRetailing webinar, Exuding luxury through the omnichannel experience: the Harvey Nichols story, Darryl Adie, managing director of Ampersand Commerce , and Roland Breadner, head of the ecommerce practice at Rackspace , explained how the Harvey Nichols omnichannel experience was built firmly around the customer.


• The webinar opened with a brief introduction to the speakers, their companies, and their partnership approach to shared enterprise customers, who include Harvey Nichols.

Speaker: Darryl Adie, managing director Ampersand Commerce


• Introduction to omnichannel: Darryl Adie: “We’re talking about the number of customer touchpoints that a business would have across multiple places in their business. Primarily that would be desktop, mobile as well as tablet but it would also cover instore experiences, sales, returns and more general transactions around custmer experience as well.”


Q How mature would you describe your multichannel strategy and implementation as being?

A Very mature: 2% Mature: 16% Somewhat mature: 30% Immature: 21% Not applicable: 28%

“That’s a fair reflection of where we feel most businesses are at.” Darryl Adie.

The omnichannel challenge for the luxury retailer

• Customer expectations are “incredibly high”. Every point in the omnichannel journey must be a luxury experience.

Luxury look and feel to the website required, matching the in-store and product experience.

• Scarcity of stock: “Whereas an FMCG retailer might have an unlimited capacity to order stock, as a luxury retailer it’s impossible to give customers an infinite amount of stock.” Part of the mission is to create desire around products that may be limited to just one season.

• That presents challenges for multichannel.

The journey

• History of Harvey Nichols as a multichannel retailer, from the mid 2000s to today, when they now use the Magento platform. “The new website is about going back to the customer, starting with the customer and what they want to achieve.”

• Creating an omnichannel culture, starting by incentivising in-store staff to want to help with the online journey.

• Results in customers who want to spend more with the brand.

• “Multichannel is about time and place”: and multichannel should be there to deliver that to the customer.

Single view of stock

• Single view of stock means the store and the website can all tell the customer where the product is available, through real-time integration. Starts with data integration that can be tracked through the supply chain to know where a product is. Followed up with fast fulfilment turnaround. “Without knowing where things are, that would never be achievable.” Providing a superior experience around that.

Single view of the customer

• For Harvey Nichols, the single view of the customer means access to a single repository of customer data, with its insight into what the customer wants/has wanted in the past. From there personal relationships can be built, especially with loyal and high-spending customers. Rather than being a data exercise, it’s about “giving the customer what they want.” Starts with standardisation of data across stores and the website: CRM integrated to product segments of customers, then used to create a better relationship with the customer and a better website experience through subtly ways of communicating with the customer.

The technology and its implementation

• “It’s about putting the customer and the business before the technology.” That means knowing what’s to be achieved before selecting technology.

• Mobile: implemented mobile and tablet sites for Harvey Nichols. Chose adaptive over responsive implementation, so that the customer sees a slightly different version on their mobile devices. The mobile version curates the content into a manageable amount for the smartphone user. Decision started with what the customer would want, rather than what the technology could do.

• Putting luxury into click and collect: style advisor service integrated to a click and try service. Items suggested by the advisor, in a free service, can be put into a shortlist on the website for another time.

• Giving people a reason to come back: integration between content and products: content merchandising that breaks down the barriers between the two.

• The system: Magento Enterprise, Akamai CDN, Backbone javascript, Fredhopper and Hybrid Hosting to deal with peaks and troughs in demand.

Speaker: Roland Breadner, head of the ecommerce practice, Rackspace


• “It goes without saying that a site like Harvey Nichols can’t go down.”

• Dealing with spikes in demand: whether within a year or a week.

• Christmas business is spiking later and differently than previously; Domino’s Pizza has two spikes a week.

• Scale on demand provides flexibility and an answer to that issue. But requirements such as PCI compliance mean some traffic has to stay within the core site.

• Harvey Nichols uses the Rackspace cloud to deal with peaks in traffic. Goes from a relatively small amount of dedicated hardware to dozens of Rackspace servers (the Rackspace cloud) to deal with Christmas and the New Year and June sale periods.

• A hybrid solution uses the Rackspace cloud to deal with peaks.


Q Are you currently using a hybrid hosting solution?

Scale on demand provides flexibility and an answer to that issue.

A Yes: 20% No: 54% I don’t know: 27%

• Hybrid hosting provides rented cloud capacity on top of owned, in-house capacity.

• At Harvey Nichols, the “reason this has been such a successful story is the opportunity work with a wider team that has a deep understanding of Magento”, providing a joint proposition to the market.

Speaker: Darryl Adie, Ampersand Commerce

Harvey Nichols: looking ahead

• Moving from CRM strategy to create more insight for the customer and create a better experience.

• Integrating in-store experiences further.

• Expansion of click and try.

• More internationalisation.

• Question and answer session

To hear the webinar for yourself, to view the accompanying slides and hear the question and answer session, visit the Rackspace and Ampersand webinar page.

For details of our other webinars, visit our webinars page.

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