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back to article Ailing HMV sees tech sales' bright spot among dire music biz

Struggling music retailer HMV has reported that its technology sales jumped 42 per cent, after it refitted more than half of its stores to focus on punting fondleslabs. The company, which owns 252 shops throughout the UK, is slowly morphing its stores into retail outfits that also sell tech gear in an effort to survive on the …

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Stop

Stick a fork in HMV...

...cos it's done better than my turkey will be on Sunday.

Like Our Price, Tower Records, and Zavvi before it, HMV's main market is dead and buried. How many people bought Little Mix's fabulous number 1 single* as a hard copy?

They may be able to re-brand themselves as a store selling music-type equipment such as i-Pod docks, speakers, MP3 players, tablets etc. but again... most of that stuff is cheaper online.

* Yes I was being a little sarcastic.

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Hang in there baby

In April VAT will be applied to all small purchases from the Channel Islands. This should remove one of the blocks that stop HMV from competing with online retailers for DVDs and CDs etc.

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Anonymous Coward

Cloud with a cloudy lining

I think HMV actually use that tax dodge themselves through their online operations - as do, indirectly, all the supermarkets and many others including of course the online specialists Amazon, Play.com and thehut.

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I'm sure they do, but it's the stores that are in trouble.

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Anonymous Coward

It needs to rethink it's CD business. The expense and logistics of shipping very specific CDs to store could be replaced by an in-store CD burner and glossy printer.

Why go through all that effort of delivering what is essentially digital media when it could all be done through a kiosk and a fast internet connection? Each HMV store would have instant access to every CD available.

Unfortunately the content providers would never agree to this, and this is the reason HMV is bound for bankruptcy. Does it think becoming another technology reseller like PCWorld/Currys is going to save it?

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Anonymous Coward

CD burner

No thanks to that idea, a CD burner uses dye technology which degrades over time leaving you with a useless plastic disk. Traditional music CDs are based on physical pits stamped into the disk. One lasts, the other doesn't.

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Bronze badge
Happy

burn on demand...

I like it...

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Anonymous Coward

....If the content providers would never agree to it then how do you explain iTunes and every other site that offers digital download being in existence?

The content providers would have no problem with that method of distribution, the issue is that they wouldn't charge much less for the digital copy compared to the hard copy (it's not HMV who are printing them at the moment) so HMV would be stung for the cost of creating those CDs as well.

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Thumb Up

I think your print on demand idea to replenish stock is brilliant. It would remove so many transport logistics costs for CD's, DVD's and BluRays. They would just need to develop larger very automated print on demand printing machines, (if they don't already have them. They already have that print on demand kind of technology for some books, but not in shops, only in factories).

Plus they could offer print on demand for very rare items in shop, which we can pickup in the shops after a short wait (like photo developers, come back in an hour and its ready). The one advantage the shops have is that we can get the physical products almost instantly and I love wandering around large HMV shops, so I would hate to see them die out ... although sadly I think that will happen in time.

The one angle the shops have for survival is any shop that has a service will have a chance of surviving the internet. All high street physical product shops in time will die, killed by internet shops but high street shops which provide services will continue. HMV could offer print on demand as a service to help them survive.

It wouldn't work for everyone of course as they are happy with download which is almost instant but for everyone who still wants to own CD, DVDs etc.. it could help keep HMV's costs down and help them survive.

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I wouldn't be against this idea if

a) the catalogue of titles available wasn't simply a duplication of the existing stuff they're trying to flog, but a full catalogue of anything and everything that has ever been released

b) the service allowed for "pick and mix" compilations as well as reproductions of the original albums

c) the price of each track/disc was reduced in recognition that the disc you're buying isn't a factory-pressed original with an expected lifespan of several decades, but rather a CD-R with a generally somewhat reduced life expectancy

"Does it think becoming another technology reseller like PCWorld/Currys is going to save it"

To be honest, I think they're in with a reasonable chance. I had a browse in their revamped Westfield Shepherds Bush store recently and was pleasantly surprised. All the tablets and laptops I looked at were powered up and unlocked, giving customers the chance to have a proper play with them, as opposed to the policy in certain other stores where everything is stuck on the password entry screen so all you can do is wiggle the mouse pointer around and get a vague idea of the screen quality based on whatever static image it happens to be displaying. And given the sorts of locations they've got, they could appeal to the impulse buyer doing a bit of window shopping in their lunchbreak where the sudden urge to buy something right there and then could override any thoughts of "ooh, let's just check it out here and then order it online when I get back to the office/home", whereas the out of town warehouses operated by DSG/Comet don't have as much scope for grabbing that sort of customer.

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FAIL

Doomed, doomed, they're doomed!

They can't even compete with themselves: they had a DVD instore at £17 which they (and everyone else) was selling online at £12. Unless I really really need it NOW, that price differential is never going to fly. They have a truly suicidal business model.

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Silver badge
Unhappy

Really? People are flocking to HMV to buy tech?

I went in the Milton Keynes HMV, hoping to pick up a couple of CDs for the car - eventually found the music section, in a small corner of the top floor. If I'd wanted to buy an X-box (or whatever) I'd have continued on to the nearest computer game retailer, but it appears I'm in a minority.

If ever I want a DVD, it's invariably cheaper on-line or from the supermarket. It's a shame, as I like record shops (I still mourn the demise of Our Price), but HMV really needs to curl up and die.

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I tend to only go to HMV if I need something urgently and can't wait for it to be delivered (or can't risk not having it not turn up on time), and happen to be going into town.

For everything else, both the technology they are starting to sell and the music, games and DVD's they have traditionally sold, there are other places, both online and brick and mortar, that I would go to first.

I tend to find that the choice of things in there is not as good as other places and is getting worse, and the prices are relatively expensive. I understand that there are reasons for this that HMV can't control.

I hope they survive as I believe there is a place for them on the high street, but it is as an emergency shop for things I haven't thought out properly (The same role played by PC World and Curry's, etc), not as the go-to place.

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Devil

Much as I dislike HMV...

...for their arse-ripping prices, I'd like to see them successful in the hardware biz - Curry World needs a high street competitor to beat some humility into them.

Back to prices - Ever since it became obvious they'd take a $20 box set, increase the price to $40 in November then put Half Price sale stickers on it in December; I decided they deserved none of my business from then on.

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FAIL

D-E-A-D

Went in there yesterday, saw the prices.. walked out again.. Can buy just about everything else, somewhere else and cheaper..

Bring back 5 for £20 on DVD's and you might re-gain a customer!

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Anonymous Coward

I went in there at the weekend to get a DVD for a Xmas present, balked at the price and bought it in Tesco on the way home for £8 less. I only went in because I was passing and in town for something else.

I don't think HMV can carve out much of a niche selling tech tat either, you can go to hundreds of shops selling the same stuff for about the same price or less. They have no USP to get you in the store.

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Anonymous Coward

"In April VAT will be applied to all small purchases from the Channel Islands. This should remove one of the blocks that stop HMV from competing with online retailers for DVDs and CDs etc."

--> increasing the price of physical media --> accelerating the move to digital media

RIP HMV

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Anonymous Coward

The CD-burning-in-the-shop sounds OK, but think about it, why bother going into a shop to do that when you can do it at home? The point of going into a shop is to rummage through the stuff they have on sale, looking for things you didn't expect. In the long run, either people will want to carry on doing that enough to sustain some (probably smaller) number of shops - possibly subsidised by the publishers to make their stuff visible - or they won't.

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@CD burner

Picture the scene at Philips in the 70s.

Hey boss I've got a brilliant idea - a form of music that offers pretty much all the sound quality that anyone would ever want in a digital form that can be converted into any new format, and what's even better - it never wears out.

Then every record company and shop went - wow we can sell everybody the same albums again at 4x the price on this shiny new format. That should keep us going for 10 years

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Anonymous Coward

Their sales went up but from what to what - i.e. if they went from £100 to £200 in a month it's a 100% increase but of bugger all. Perhaps they sold very little in the way of electronics / accessories - so turning over part of the shop to those items will increase the sales but also at the loss of media sales.

They are screwed either way - Currys Digital and other high street electronics stores are having a hard enough time - time for HMV to ever that market (methinks not).

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re: CD Burner

Well I've often asked why they don't do this in the past. The fact the CD-Rs may not last shouldn't deter them. Anyway once you get them home you can transfer the recordings to hard disc so you could burn a replacement CD if you wanted to. In any case some original 1980s CDs are becoming unplayable now so the format isn't immune to deterioration.

Furthermore the store (or kiosk) could sell recordings in other formats including downloading to your iPod, iPad, laptop, USB flash drive, SD card, etc.

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Devil

HMV will blame the Internet but not innovate themselves

I came up with this idea pre-iPod but post-MP3 player when I was about 16/17. Not only was dial-up still quite common, but offering digital music in-store may of saved the ridiculous pirating that goes on now-a-days.

Inbetween themselves and the Internet, they could also blame the music industry for reactly like a slow tortoise when Napster boomed pirating. If one of the big companies bought the tech and made music nice and cheap (ahead of the iTunes days):

a) Apple would not be in such a commanding position for digial music.

b) Music companies could of flogged and taken control of the digital music industry with a firm grip without trying to force DRM on everyone in the Mini-disc days of dying Sony logic.

c) Music shops could of pushed digital by offering quick downloads at self-serving kiosks to create custom CDs or offer quick downloads to copy/paste MP3 players.

Shame the music industry has left a legacy that will bite them until only iTunes and the digital stores are left giving Apple nits but not really damaging their sales at all.

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