Close this search box.

Retail review (IRM55)

As customers and retailers look across all touchpoints rather than siloed channels, so IR retailer reviews look at the entire retailer’s eco-system of website, mobile, the use of digital in store and their overall strategy. Longer in-depth analysis of the four areas can be viewed online at This issue our reviewers examine HMV.


Joe Tarragano, Director, Transform

Few would have been surprised when in 2013 HMV went into administration. It was a business with a big, under-performing store estate operating in a category that was being structurally assaulted by digital, the grocers and Amazon. However, 18 months later it’s profitable, has proudly restored its place on Oxford Street and has overtaken Amazon to become the UK’s #1 retailer of physical music.

Prior to its collapse, the HMV team had a vision of what success could be. It pictured a diversified business where music sat at the heart of an experience proposition; a visit to a concert would trigger an exclusive emailed preview of the band’s new single and a promotion code ahead of its general release. A vision built on being an authority in entertainment categories, where a curated, broad range is delivered online but more importantly through an experiential retail environment, feels credible. Now that HMV is operating from a more robust store estate and is strengthening its authenticity, we may see it continue to build its sales growth. That would be music to the ears of its rescuers Hilco.


Nicola Dunlop, User Experience Analyst, User Vision

HMV has much to improve on, especially around the information architecture and navigation across the site. Although it has caught up with the notion of downloading music, it is still within a separate section and needs to be further embedded.

Over and above this recommendation, HMV must recognize the power of music streaming. One only has to look at the success of sites such as Spotify, Last FM, Tidal and Apple Music to notice that these services are now dominating the market. Therefore, to ensure that HMV’s history does not repeat itself and that it remains a key contender within the music retail space, the next logical step for the brand should be to develop its own streaming service. This should be present within its sites and stores to create a seamless service experience that matches growing user behaviour and expectation.


Rob Thurner, Managing Partner, Burn The Sky

Three months after HMV went into administration, restructuring company Hilco bought 144 of the shops. The entertainment brand went on to record £16.7m in operating profit between January 29 and December 28, 2013. More recently, HMV regained its crown as the UK’s top music retailer from Amazon.

From a digital perspective, since its restructuring the entertainment retailer has:

z Overhauled the editorial-led responsive website, including loyalty scheme purehmv;

z Launched music download service and accompanying app HMV Music in a bid to go toe-to-toe with iTunes;

z Relaunched its ecommerce site following a two-year hiatus.

Today there’s integration between HMV’s various digital offerings – though a ropey user experience makes it feel like a work in progress. Given the retailer’s other achievements over the last three years, perhaps that’s unsurprising.

HMV has done an admirable job in turning its fortunes around since its early-2013 troubles, but the chain’s various mobile offerings have a way to go before troubling the digital big boys. Just for starters, our priority list would include additional integration, a UX rethink, design continuity and some ecommerce TLC.


Mark O’Hanlon, Senior Manager, and Pete Brown, Business Analyst, Kurt Salmon

Given HMV’s success in regaining the number one position in the UK’s physical music market earlier this year, the store experience is slightly overwhelming. It’s surprising also that there is no opportunity to interact with online while in store. 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 in store, it is possible to place an order via a member of staff, for collection, but only from the store. A few adjustments to the mobile experience, such as redesigning the app with in-store personalisation, could easily reinforce HMV as the standalone multimedia player on the UK high street.

Read More

Register for Newsletter

Group 4 Copy 3Created with Sketch.

Receive 3 newsletters per week

Group 3Created with Sketch.

Gain access to all Top500 research

Group 4Created with Sketch.

Personalise your experience on