Harvey Nichols has launched a new website that seeks to reinforce its status as a luxury multichannel retailer.

The relaunch includes a new mobile site and additional features such as a ‘Click & Try’ service and real-time stock levels.

Rather than carry out a full review of the new Harvey Nichols site, I thought it would be useful to highlight a few of the new features.

In the past we’ve come across a number of high-end brands that are severely let down by the online customer experience, so have Harvey Nichols and development agency Ampersand Commerce managed to get it right?

Read onto find out, or for more information check out our blog posts looking at 17 luxury brands with poor web user experience or how Mulberry’s new responsive site shows luxury brands how to do UX.

Social content

Harvey Nichols’ new site is designed around showcasing the brand’s fashion content, with new blog posts published every few days.

The articles are divided into six different categories named The Buzz, Trends, Editor’s Picks, Inspiration, The Knowledge, and Brand Focus.

Some of the categories are more obvious than others, but the general aim is to give shoppers a mix of fashion tips, news, trend information and advice from various experts.

Users can also filter the content using subcategories based on Harvey Nichol’s different departments.

The articles tend to be quite brief and include details of new trends, discussions around a particular celebrity or details of new Harvey Nichols products.

This is obviously good for SEO and increasing time on-site, and it also allows the content team to include calls-to-action directing shoppers to buy products featured in the articles, or even book a table at the Harvey Nichols restaurant.

I do feel that the CTAs would benefit from being a bit more visible, however.

Content marketing is nothing new but it’s still interesting to see businesses place such a big emphasis on blog content within their site design.

Harvey Nichol’s is following in the footsteps of other luxury retailers such as Net-A-Porter, though it has a long way to go until it can match its rival’s level content output.

‘Click and Try’

Click-and-collect has consistently proven to be a successful sales tool for multichannel retailers, as it provides a popular delivery option for customers and helps to drive incremental sales when people visit the stores.

A survey run by Econsultancy in August 2013 found that almost two-thirds of consumers (63%) had bought products online before collecting them in-store at least once in the previous 12 months, while 16% used reserve-and-collect at least once a month.

Furthermore, Halfords introduced click-and-collect around three years ago and now 86% of all its sales are for in-store collection.

As such it’s not surprising that this is an option on Harvey Nichol’s new website. However it’s interesting to note that the retailer has gone a step further and offers a ‘Click & Try’ option.

So imagine if you can that I was undecided as to whether I wanted to spend £1,935 on a pair of Givenchy leather trousers. This new service allows customers to purchase an item online then try it on in-store with the help of a style advisor. The session also apparently comes with a complimentary glass of champagne.

The UX is also well-designed, as when choosing this option within the shopping basket users are shown up-to-date opening hours and details of the store locations.

Luxury retailers all to often fall short in terms of the online customer experience, but this is an excellent service and one that I feel should have a positive impact on Harvey Nichols’ conversion rate.

Fashion Emergency!

There is an ever-present footer on the Harvey Nichols site that include links to recently viewed items, saved products and the brand’s social accounts.

More interestingly though, one of the buttons is labelled ‘Fashion emergency’ and gives users immediate access to the brand’s customer service team.

The idea is that shoppers can access live chat to track down specific items or ask for style advice.

ASOS and Schuh have been trialling a similar service for some time now, while brands from other industries have also seen positive results from using live chat for customer service.

For example, Sky previously told us that live chat helped to improve its sales and customer service.

Unfortunately the live chat tool was unavailable when I visited the site, which is potentially more damaging to the customer experience than not even offering live chat in the first place.

Nonetheless it’s another feature that reinforces Harvey Nichol’s reputation as a luxury retailer and one that will help it to distinguish itself from the competition.