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Has Harvey Norman Just Lost 60% Of Their Revenue On The Busiest Retail Day Of The Year?

Gary Wheelhouse, the head of digital at Harvey Norman, loves to brag about Harvey Norman’s online operation; the only problem is that he’s failed to explain why the mass retailer suffered one of the biggest online retailer crash in the history of online retailing in Australia on Black Friday.

Some are now questioning whether the site was deliberately hacked because users in the Harvey Norman queue could view the site devoid of images.

By 7:00 pm on Friday, the online site that connects to 180 Harvey Norman stores had been down for over 10 hours.

The suppliers who had splashed the cash on Black Friday marketing have claimed that there has been no communication from Harvey Norman management explaining what caused the crash or whether the retailer had been hacked.

Harvey Norman’s head of digital Gary Wheelhouse. He reports directly to CEO Katie Page.

One person wrote on Reddit, “I am not impressed at all. Why does the web site not work, it’s no good thanking me for being patient because my patience has run out.

“There are other stores that sell the same products as Harvey Norman, and I don’t have to drive there to find what I want. Fix your website”.

At this stage, it’s unknown how much revenue the 180 Harvey Norman franchisees, connected to the Harvey Norman online site for same-day delivery have lost due to the crash.

These franchises have been aggressively pricing stock on the floor in what has been described as a “ding dong battle” between retailers leading up to the Black Friday sales.

There has also yet to be an announcement to the ASX, to inform shareholders that the site has been down on the busiest retail day of the year and that the business could face millions in lost revenue.

Wheelhouse, also an Adobe Customer Advisory Board Member, reports to the CEO of Harvey Norman and has remained silent throughout the day.

Wheelhouse claims online that he is the person responsible for ‘The development and execution of the Harvey Norman digital strategy, taking ownership of the management and development of all Harvey Norman online activity’.

Only recently, Wheelhouse bragged about converting stores into frictionless fulfillment centres for online orders.

He said that Harvey Norman was using multiple legacy systems and had multiple relationships in place each handling different freight profiles in the past.

At this stage, it’s yet to be known whether Harvey Norman is still operating on legacy systems because of a lack of investment by Harvey Norman management, particularly the Company’s Chairman Gerry Harvey, who is no fan of online retailing.

Gary Wheelhouse right bragging about Harvey Normans online operation.

Today, the most prominent retailers in Australia are operating in the cloud and take advantage of services such as Amazon Web Services.

Wheelhouse claims recently that with multiple franchisees owning and operating different departments within a single superstore, there was a need to standardise fulfillment processes across the store network, which is why the business moved to exclusively use Shippit to make shipping from stores as frictionless as possible.

What now appears to be a major problem for Harvey Norman Wheelhouse has admitted that Harvey Norman customers are researching online before going into a Harvey Norman store and that today’s crash could significantly impact Harvey Norman Q2 2023 revenues, which were already under pressure.

He said, “customers are still going into stores but what are they doing? is researching online. They are also doing click and collect. We benefit from driving traffic into stores because we can upsell the customer in store with an extra warranty or other service.”

He claims that hand in hand with online comes mobile commerce. Wheelhouse said it has put a lot of time into making the mobile website, which was also down today, responsive so that customers can shop on their smartphone or tablet.

“It’s great to look at the stats on a Saturday night and see that 60 per cent of your traffic is coming from mobile”.

The big question is whether Harvey Norman lost 60% of their traffic on the busiest retail day of the year.

Wheelhouse claims that the Companies digital strategies affect customers, stores, People, suppliers, and that increasing customer acquisition, conversion and retention online is “vital today”.

“I am leading a team made up of retailers, techies, designers, strategists, researchers, and developers, all trying to discover the future of retail” he was quoted as claiming at one seminar where he was bragging about Harvey Normans online operations.

“We will deliver the next generation of Harvey Norman retail combining online, mobile and stores to let customers shop when, where and how they want. The role is that of a change agent helping deliver Harvey Norman further into the digital age and is integral to Harvey Norman’s ongoing O2O initiatives”.

Harvey Norman shares were already down 4% prior to the online site crash.

He appears to have made no mention of backups or building redundancy into the retailer’s online operation.

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