Once again we are talking about the demise of HMV. Some good news is that investors from Canada’s Sunrise Records have stepped forward and saved 100 stores. The bad news however is that the store in Bath is not one of them. In fact it is one of 27 that will not be saved as can be seen in the picture above.
It is hard to see many of our favourite brand names disappearing from our high streets. It’s also quite easy to think of reasons why this is happening. Changes in consumer habits are always in flux but one thing that has been consistent is the move to digital goods. I am certain this can all be pinpointed back to the creation of MP3 players. Most importantly the creation of the iPod and iTunes.
Freedom of Choice
Freedom of choice as no longer are consumers forced to pay for an entire album when they only want a few tracks. They now have the option to pay for a single track for just 99p each. They also no longer had to go to a store to search through endless displays of CD’s in alphabetical order to find what they want. I actually think this was the exciting fun part which has been lost on the current generation of consumers. We really are the NOW generation and we do not just want goods and services now but also intangibles like fame and success.
It’s not just music that killed off retailers. I personally use Amazon music to buy all my music through as they would give you access to the digital copy even if you bought the physical media.
The HMV Website
I have recently tried to buy music online from HMV and their online store. The links do not seem to take you to a choice of media to purchase. There are certainly no digital download options and when you find somewhere to click ‘buy now’ there is no add to cart option nor any checkout process.
The customer experience the site offers is ghastly by any comparison. Customers want to be able to get what they want and leave with the minimum of fuss. If they are interested in extras like articles or other purchases they should be on the side giving them the option to view it.
If the internet has done one thing it is cut out the middleman. Amazon surprisingly is still one of these middlemen but they have managed to make the purchasing of almost any items so easy and efficient that there is no need to go direct to the manufacturer.
Can HMV survive in the long term? Personally I doubt it as broadband speeds have been increased over larger areas. Why is this important? Simple, Netflix would not have been able to survive without an ever increasing customer base to expand into. They need more subscribers and more content to keep everyone happy. The main indicator of how many people they can keep adding to their services is the number of people with sufficiently fast enough broadband to be able to stream their content.
UPDATE: Wednesday 13th February 2019
The HMV store in Bath has reopened and appears to have been saved. This is great news for Bath and for the jobs that have also been saved by this move.