Harvey Norman takes to Twitter in online backflip

Harvey Norman has embraced Twitter as a sales tool, with chief operations officer John Slack-Smith has detailed the company's online strategy at CeBIT 2010 yesterday.

Marketing | News | Retail

By David Olsen

Harvey Norman has embraced Twitter as a sales tool, with chief operations officer John Slack-Smith has detailed the company’s online strategy at CeBIT 2010 yesterday.

Harvey NormanHarvey Norman’s John Slack-Smith said yesterday that the Australian retailing giant, with stores in Australia, New Zealand, Slovenia, Ireland, Singapore and Malaysia plans to implement the back-end systems to enable the company to compete in the online retail space in a big way within 5 years. Starting off small Harvey Norman initially has established a team of staff to monitor social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter for feedback on the brand and products.

‘I’ve got a small team of people that do nothing but monitor … Facebook and Twitter,” John Slack-Smith told the CeBIT 2010 conference in Sydney yesterday SMH reports.

Harvey Norman’s entrance into the Social Media monitoring space is an interesting evolution of the company’s traditionally risk averse policy towards online as a sales channel for the group. It does however follow the footsteps of social media veterans such as ComCast who have been monitoring social media since 2007.

“Within 20 minutes of my first Twitter message I got a call from a Comcast executive in Philadelphia who wanted to know how he could help”, writes Michael Arrington in a blog post on TechCrunch, as an example of the kind of opportunities social media presents to companies to engage with their customers.

Harvey Norman’s approach in the short term is consistent with the ‘wait and see’ philosophy towards online demonstrated by Harvey Norman’s Chairman Gerry Harvey previously, however the move follows criticism of the traditional retail bricks and mortar model by online only technology retailer Kogan Technology’s Ruslan Kogan after the collapse of Clive Peeters, saying the collapse was the “death of traditional retail.”

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