HMV must learn, if it wants to survive

2013-01-14T230607Z_2_CBRE90D1P3L00_RTROPTP_2_HMV-ADMINISTRATIONWith the almost certain demise of the last entertainment retail giant of the high street to almost certainly close for the last time before the weeks out. HMV which has been a staple, almost an institution for this country as become the latest victim to fall into administration. And why, most of it has been said, and Empires blog post sums it up rather well. Still I’m throwing in my pennies worth as I have to get it off my chest.

I have been a semi-regular customer/browser of HMV as long as I have been able to shop with my own money, so ten years or so. And in that time I have had choice in where I can buy my DVDs and some CDs. Of course over time that choice has diminished with the introduction of online shopping and downloads in the last 5 years or so. However for me with HMV it has always charged well over the odds for its DVDs which are my main choice. They seem to charge a few pounds more for a DVD than most other retailers. I remember that for a time they charged £18 (more or less) for Finding Nemo (2003) which had been released for a few years. They kept that price for quite some time. I eventually bought my copy from Case and point really, with HMVs crazy pricing plan on products they ignored the idea of deprecation, things lose value. Of course they have to make some sort of profit. Yet there are week after week new releases that should have the higher prices. The box-sets too, which makes more sense.

On another occasion I bought by chance the complete box set of Thunderbirds, which was at the rock bottom sale price of £25, coming down from £125 which is madness. Yes Thunderbirds is a classic series, but its not high art, so it shouldn’t be treated as such. I don’t think it was out of print. I took the chance, saving the £100 and bought the box set. At the full price I wouldn’t give it a second glance sadly.

Going back to the Empire blog post, numerous comments repeated what I have just expressed. But there is far more to consider. Piracy for one has had an effect the legal market for those who spend their hard-earned money on the real-mccoy. Crime is winning this battle sadly.

Another issue is the online retailer, even HMVs own site that out-prices and insults its own customers, so why bother to get up and walk into the store when you sit down and click onto the site and its at your house for a fraction of the store price. The likes of Amazon and are winning that battle, with no high street rent to pay, they can charge as little as they want, they can offer second-hand products at even more rock-bottom prices. I have and will continue to buy a fair share of my DVDs online, because they have a wider selection, No shop can stock the thousands of titles that have been released in the history of released product to enjoy. And the second reason is the price which goes slowly down all the time. There will be a rare out of print DVD I may want which only the internet can give access to.

The download is probably the most prominent issue headed up with iTunes charging 99p for a track, or even a few pounds for an album or film for £3.99 (more or less) they are dealing with only files that appear on your laptop in minutes. It’s hard to pass up the immediacy of that service and technology. However there are people, a large group who prefer the physical. Going into a store, browsing for whats on offer, having an idea of what you want, even finding a surprise or two. And coming out with a real hard copy of the film, TV series to hold onto, to watch and enjoy. To place on your shelve with pride, its a representation of your unique taste. A digital library doesn’t have the same experience, of course its your collection, but its more private and colder. You can’t show it off to the world as you can a collection on a physical shelf, read the titles. Now the physical copy has to compete with digital copies that comes with catches, can only be viewed a few times before a catch appears.

Sadly the last is the experiencing of browsing, the actually see what is physically on offer to you, gives you a structure to what is possible, what can I possibly buy today? Our expectations are limited, and we were once content with that. I know what that feels like. Consumers 5 years or more younger than me have a higher expectation, to have everything on offer all the time. The internet offers that. HMV along with others can never expect to meet that, unless they order it in, which takes time and patience which is slowly fading in our fast paced society.

HMV is a victim of time, circumstance and its own short sightedness to listen and adapt today. When I went into my local store, I saw no sign that they were in administration, there was a silent hope that all will be ok. Carrying on with the month long 25% sale on items they don’t really want. Making way for the new releases that are at the normal extortionate prices. When the big sale happens I predict as many others that it will be a messy fight for the bargains that you once had to save up or go without because you simply couldn’t afford it. When the prices are really slashed we will have probably half decent prices.



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