Having spent much of the past few years whining about how online retailers who don't pay GST are ruining the world, Gerry Harvey now seems to believe money can be made that way. Enter Harvey Norman Direct Import, a games-only site selling discounted titles imported from Europe.
Despite his constant anti-Internet rhetoric, Harvey Norman has expanded into the world of online this year, firstly with the rather odd Big Buys site that sold everything but electronics, then with a broader offering that included in-store pick-up. As we noted when it launched, that latter site wasn't generally the cheapest option around, a factor that directly influenced the rollout of an offshore site through HN's Irish subsidiary.
Gerry Harvey summed it up at the media launch: "This is a case of if you can't beat them join them. We're not doing this with a great deal of joy by the way."
The site ships games from the UK, Ireland and Europe, complete with UK ratings. (Games banned in Australia aren't offered, though.) The reduced prices come down to two factors: different prices in the European market, and not charging GST on the goods, since they are being sent to individuals and fall under the $1,000 threshold that attracts GST.
Right now, the site only covers console games. Harvey Norman is working to develop PC game supply chains, and Gerry Harvey suggested that sites for other categories will be launched in the near future. "The next question is what will you do next? The answer is we'll let you know soon."
I can't help thinking the launch timing is slightly cynical, since it's now too late to order anything for Christmas shopping (delivery time is between 7 and 14 days). The site also charges a $3.95 per game delivery fee, which could influence the total compared to other sites which offer combined shipping. Harvey himself commented on that relatively high fee: "I'd have thought we'd be able to do it cheaper than that." But given the evident lower prices on some titles, I suspect it may attract some traffic, especially for single title buyers. What do you think? (The site is set to go live at 6pm on December 22.)
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