Day & night: Harvey Nichols’ new ‘store in a pocket’ concept

Harvey Nichols is planning an entirely new department-store model in Pacific Place shopping centre, a prototype for a new tech-centric concept the parent company plans to roll out internationally.

The first store will take over half of the current 84,000sqft Harvey Nichols department-store space there, opening in the third quarter of this year.

Put simply, the two integrated projects are redefining borderless shopping. Or as Dickson Concepts puts it, they are creating “a store in your pocket”.

Online, Dickson Concepts gained complete access to Harvey Nichols’ digital expertise a year ago, allowing the luxury retailer to accelerate its global e-commerce strategy by combining its curated fashion collections from London and Hong Kong in a digital platform. Hong Kong online shoppers can connect and interact with associates from Harvey Nichols’ UK stores via instant messaging, photo sharing, and live video streaming, allowing customers to shop the group’s eight stores in the UK from their home or office.

Products can be shipped directly to the customers’ home or office, or to a store for personalised post-sale service, such as alterations by tailors. The company says this service is unmatched by pure-play online retailers.

Dickson Concepts says expanding this concept into a new-generation store will shape the future of the Harvey Nichols business around two formats – one the new-generation, tech-driven format, the other a more traditional style format epitomised by the Harvey Nichols Landmark store in Hong Kong’s Central, or the Kensington flagship in London.

The project has evolved from the strategic partnership between the two companies announced last March which allowed the department store to use its parent’s digital expertise to create a seamless inventory across the UK and Hong Kong, allowing customers to shop the entire range and consult store staff online. The move trebled the number of products available to shoppers.

Dickson Concepts plans to invest US$32 million on the new Pacific Place prototype store – on top of the US$127.5 million in technology and technology-related companies to support the ambitious borderless, experiential retail concept.

“Technology is core to Harvey Nichols’ new store format and is carefully interwoven into the store to drive the most immersive, enjoyable, and personalised shopping experience possible,” a company spokesperson said.

Once the Pacific Place store model is refined, the company plans to expand its two physical store models into new international markets, with high-profile Asian cities like Tokyo, Shanghai and Seoul likely to be on the shortlist.

“Dickson Concepts will work with Harvey Nichols to introduce augmented reality solutions in-store, which will allow Hong Kong customers to virtually try selected beauty products previously available only at Harvey Nichols UK, before proceeding to make purchases online,” the company says.

As part of the partnership, Dickson Concepts will also launch multiple omnichannel initiatives, such as introducing “Endless Aisles” at its stores that will allow in-store customers to enjoy the full offer of Harvey Nichols’ in-store and online offering simultaneously.

The Pacific Place store will feature an online Style Lounge where dedicated stylists will work to provide each customer with product recommendations built around the customer’s personal style taste, needs and preferences.

“In the new retail format, Harvey Nichols’ online exclusive offering will be interspersed into the presentation of physical products to provide customers with the full view of the most up-to-date and exciting products available, while allowing even frequent customers to explore and discover new product stories on every visit. Customers will be able to scan any digital products showcased in the store directly onto their own smartphones, or alternatively be served with an expert team of stylists.

“This will allow each customer to be presented with a selection of coordinated outfits that are completely tailored to them, without experiencing the frustrations of surfing through thousands of products available online to find the perfect piece.

“As such, the new format will allow Dickson Concepts to maximise sales densities and profits and compete against pure-play online operators, while offering customers the most curated product and service offering possible,” the company says.

Meanwhile, the live, online shopping functionality is powered by global retail technology company Hero, with which Harvey Nichols signed a strategic partnership last June.

Leading international brands and emerging designer talent from both the UK and Hong Kong are available online, with local customers able to shop the global Harvey Nichols range.

Since launching in 2011, Harvey Nichols has invested more than US$60 million in its e-commerce business, allowing the company to become the first luxury department store in the UK to integrate a marketplace solution in its e-commerce platform. It is the first department store in the UK to link its online customers with in-store product experts in real-time, using instant messaging, photo sharing and video streaming.

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