Harvey Norman is planning to make money from its Internet site but, ironically, the retail giant is struggling to collect product information in electronic form from its suppliers for posting to the site.
Richard Eastmead, Harvey Norman's Web site proprietor, yesterday detailed the difficulty the organisation faces constructing its new e-commerce site.
"I expected to gain the information easily, to cut and paste it on to the site. But many vendors don't seem to have product information and photos in a usable format. Some aren't geared up to service us for the site; they are a step behind," he said.
Because of the difficulties, Eastmead said he must manually input information in some cases.
Although some suppliers have active Web sites, the issue is of concern to Harvey Norman because the success of e-commerce sites rely heavily on efficient supply chains, he observed.
Michelle Deaker, joint CEO for giftvouchers.com, which sells vouchers on behalf of some of Australia's biggest retailers, agreed with Eastmead.
According to Deaker, many companies had not formulated an Internet strategy when giftvouchers.com approached businesses late last year about selling their gift vouchers through its site. "Twelve months on and those businesses are only now ready to list on our site," she said.
Eastmead said without hesitation that Harvey Norman has a "10 out of 10" chance of success with the online venture "because retail is our core competency".
"People know the name and the organisation behind the site. And we already have the systems in place such as offline marketing and EFTPOS. People will have the option to by from the site or go into their nearest store after researching," Eastmead said.