Thursday, September 13, 2007

HMV steps into the future

The first of the new-look HMVs has opened in Merry Hill, and The Guardian has been down for a look.

Curiously, Simon Fox, who has overseen the flipcharts and market surveys which has led up to this moment, used to be in charge of Comet, and he's brought with him everything he learned making shopping there such a dispirting experience - genuinely, who can tell the difference between a Comet and a Currys? Who really enjoys traipsing through them?

So, you get a dash of the coffee shop from Neighbours:

The fresh juice bar is all part of a plan to entice customers in for longer. Sipping on smoothies they can sit at sleek new Apple computers surfing a select number of websites including social networks Bebo, MySpace and Facebook.

That'll certainly bring people in - after all, Apple Stores in the US had to block MySpace because its shops were getting overwhelmed with people updating their MySpaces and not buying - but will that lead to sales, or is HMV investing in providing enormous youth clubs?
A row down from the "social space" are terminals where shoppers scan the barcodes on CDs and DVDs, listen to and watch them and click on a buy button for free delivery of a copy to the customer's home.

So, you go in to town, fight your way through kids sipping smoothies and... can order your album to be sent to your house. And go home and wait for it. Why, exactly, would you bother to go into town to do this? You could hear the tracks online at home, order it, and wait. HMV, clearly, need to bring people into stores, but simply by adding a stage of 'going into town and going to a store' into the process of purchasing online isn't going to work.

Unless HMV is aiming squarely at people who don't have access to the internet elsewhere - not, we'd have thought, the same market who would be supping smoothies and stalking social networking sites.
Mr Fox hopes inspiring people to buy at least one item thanks to easier-to-navigate stores divided into areas like "watch", "listen" and "play" will make the economics of the refit work. At £100 per square foot, it means the price tag on Dudley's store is £800,000. If HMV decides to go ahead with 40 more next generation stores - it will decide after Christmas - the cost will be £20m.

Twenty million pounds? That's very, very serious money. I suspect they'd be better off spending it on a wider range of stock.

[Thanks to James P]


9 comments:

Anonymous said...

More to the point, why order the CD to be delivered when you're already in the store??? It's not like CDs are the size of a sofa or a fridge....

James said...

Barking, isn't it? The only reason I can think they'd want to offer this order-online-instore service is if it meant a larger range of music being available (more than they could keep instore). But, as was suggested here a few weeks back, why not instead just scrap the juice-bars and convert the store into a massive Argos-type store which can stock a much bigger range of stuff, available to buy there and then? I'd love to be able to visit a shop, knowing I could buy from the same huge archive of music that's available online, but with the added bonus of being able to get hold of it there and then, rather than wait a week for it to arrive.

As it is though, in their battle against internet sales, HMV seem determined to emulate only the worst bits of online shopping. Keep watching; This time next week they'll be offering to break the plastic teeth in any CDs you buy instore.

Francis said...

Refreshments bar? Internet access? Listening posts that allow you to scan a barcode and instantly hear the album?

Anyone who has been to the French record store FNAC has been living this wondrous dream for the past couple of years! Good to see that HMV are so ON THE PULSE of the consumer entertainment industry that they are copying the French but getting it ever so slightly wrong..

Lulu said...

...stores divided into areas like "watch", "listen" and "play"

Because we don't understand the words currently used to divide HMV. I've always wondered why they had "DVDs" "Music" and "Games" written in big letters over different parts of the shop.

simon h b said...

I hope they have a verb above the smoothie bar, otherwise that's going to throw the customers...

James said...

How specific are they planning to be with these verby signs? Will Hard-Fi albums and Joe Pasquale DVDs be kept in a separate section marked 'Endure'? Maybe university towns will keep all their arthouse films under 'Claim To Have Seen'.

Anonymous said...

I was reading today that HMV have announced that they're releasing a new type of Stylophone. Seriously. Well at least you'll be able to buy something that sounds good in their shops!

Lulu said...

"How specific are they planning to be with these verby signs? Will Hard-Fi albums and Joe Pasquale DVDs be kept in a separate section marked 'Endure'?" - james -

I love the idea of having really ethereal sections in a record shop. "Flighty", "Mischevious" or "Indelicate" divisions might draw punters in based purely on mood...

James said...

Lulu - I can definitely see that working. And just think how much money we'd all save if they had an 'Impulsive' section for albums which you'd buy based on hearing one track, only to regret when you heard the whole thing. I'd never have ended up with that copy of the Spin Bastard Doctors seventeen years ago, foolishly wasting my pocket-money on seventy minutes of agonising jazz-noodling based on one mildly catchy single.

Not that it scarred me for life or anything.

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