Deb Bee (pictured above), Harvey Nichols' marketing and creative director, explained that, as consumer trust is diminishing, brands need to create experiences to "make shopping fun again, but we also need to become trusted brands".
She said that Harvey Nichols’ footfall, especially at its flagship Knightsbridge store in London, has "suffered over the past few years". She added: "Even though people still love the brand, it actually hasn’t quite been living up to that reputation."
Since joining the brand four months ago, Bee has been delving into data around customers to better understand what they want from the in-store experience.
Bee and her team are looking at new customer segments and how to differentiate Harvey Nichols from its competitors, which include online stores as well as Liberty and Selfridges.
From this, Bee has found that, at times, customers want a quick service which is why the store offers 15-minute blow-dries from 8am, and for when they want a slower service customers can spend an evening having drinks on the roof terrace.
Bee added: "Technology can be involved but there’s a lot of human interaction needed. I think technology can enhance experiences and that can solidify trust. Technology isn’t killing retail but it will if we think it can replace experiences and trust."
Bee was speaking at an event around shopping by brand experience agency MKTG in London yesterday.