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Retail review: HMV Mark O’Hanlon and Pete Brown, digital in-store score – (IRM55)

Retail review – HMV – Mark O’Hanlon, senior manager, and Pete Brown, business analyst, Kurt Salmon – Digital in Store score 14/25 (IRM 55)

HMV has recently relaunched its website with a different offer comprising four microsites in one:,, and is the main homepage whereas is similar to the in-store experience of classic titles and bargain two-for-one deals. allows the customer to listen to and download new releases, matching the growing trend in the reduction of physical music. recognises where customers are in the world and shows events and deals specific to their area, along with staff picks that can then be found instore.

The HMV website has retained an agile modular structure allowing the business to bolt on additional features as they come along. The website is in the early stages of its design using ecommerce specialists Ridgeway to create a seamless experience from digital to HMV’s physical presence.

Given HMV’s success in regaining the number one position in the UK’s physical music market earlier this year, we had high expectations. The store experience at HMV is slightly overwhelming. The shops are generally split into three categories: film, music and gaming. They occupy approximately 50%, 40% and 10% of floor space respectively. The high SKU count and categorisation gives customers plenty of range to browse, however, for the digital native, the whole experience can feel a little intimidating. Considering that HMV is a multimedia retailer, it’s surprising that there is no opportunity to interact with online while instore. Yes, customers can try out multiplayer gaming but the whole experience could be lifted through a personalised mobile app or the utilisation of large scale interactive kiosks. If an item is out of stock instore, it is possible to place an order via a member of staff, for collection, but only from the store. Without kiosks, it’s not possible to search the online catalogue or place an order for home delivery while in a branch.

HMV has moved away from trying to compete in the technology market so just offers a small selection of music playing devices rather than an extensive range. This attempt to diversify into accessories didn’t really work, so the idea of a digital music subscription service is a step in the right direction, boosted by its success in Canada.

HMV has direct competition from the pure play online giants like Amazon. Arriving late to the download market means HMV should be leveraging its stores to drive customers to its online service and vice versa – something HMV is spectacularly failing to do. There are no signs instore directing customers to the breadth of its online proposition.

Finally, the mobile experience is clumpy and a little burdened. A few adjustments such as redesigning the app with instore personalisation could easily reinforce HMV as the standalone multimedia player on the UK high street.

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