FACE TIME: Harvey Nichols has launched a live shopping platform in partnership with Hero, the retail technology company, to strengthen the store’s online and off-line customer experience.
The live shopping service enables customers to connect with in-store staff through real-time messaging, with the option of photo sharing and video streaming. “The experience is really just the same as if they were inside the store. We believe this is much more powerful than linking our customers to someone in a customer service center,” said Pearson Poon, executive director at Harvey Nichols.
Before Hero’s official rollout across the U.K. this week, the live shopping service was tested, refined and finessed over a period of 12 months at the store’s Knightsbridge flagship. “Through our soft launch, we’ve already seen that whenever a customer is engaging with Hero, they are, on average, five times as likely to purchase a product and, on average, they spend twice as much,” Poon added.
While there are obvious benefits for the consumer — increased product knowledge, personal styling tips and new product recommendations — Poon and Adam Levene, founder and chief executive officer of Hero, said that Hero also benefits Harvey Nichols’ staff.
“Sales associates are armed with iPhones and iPads and it’s really game-changing. It means they are no longer waiting for customers to come into the store. They can, instead, proactively assist millions of shoppers throughout the site,” Levene said.
Employees can log on to Hero and they are encouraged to do so during quieter store periods. The messaging service will also act as a training tool for managers to analyze conversion and customer performance.
Hero won’t have a dedicated mobile app. Levene and Poon explained that they wanted it to be “as seamless as possible” with a simple add-on button on the store’s homepage. They also praised the service’s ability to draw online users to the store.
“We had an interesting conversation with a customer who was looking at wines online, and they ended up coming in and after learning about our Japanese whiskey offering, they purchased over 15,000 pounds worth of whiskey,” Poon said.
There is also an option to join Harvey Nichols “black book,” an address book for sales associates to connect directly with customers and keep them up-to-date on product requests or on new product offerings.
Although Hero is available to customers worldwide, products can only be bought from their U.K. stores. They are working to expand this offer along with integrating other communication channels such as WeChat.
The team is optimistic about Hero’s integration and has cited that return rates have gone down, but they were unable to provide exact figures.