The sight of Nipper and his gramophone on our high street is in danger of being no more. It has been confirmed that HMV, the UK institution for all things music, films and games, has called in the administrators. With 250 stores nationwide and over 4500 employees, the loss of HMV is another hammer blow to the UK high street. In the last month or two, Britain has lost several of its favourite stores such as; JJB Sport, Comet and Jessops.
The recession has had its impact. This in turn has coincided with a mass change in consumer buying habits. The internet has changed the traditional buying model. With increased access to information, consumers have more knowledge than ever before about products and prices. HMV has found the increased competition against online giants such Amazon and the supermarket chains too hard too much.
The digital boom in the music industry has further hindered HMV. It has been suggested that a senior director saw ‘downloading as a fad’. How wrong he was. Consumers love for physical copies of albums, dvds and games has declined thanks to the popularity of mobile and smart devices. Over £1 billion is being spent in the UK on digital downloads whilst internet spending grows by 25% per annum.
HMVs problem was not being the new breed of digital consumer first port of buying. HMV was not prepared for the changes in technology and in consumer habits. Coupled with the economic downturn, the cheaper alternatives on the internet has accelerated the conversion of highs street shoppers into online shoppers.
Whilst sad, the example of HMV is a sign of the times. The internet is playing a far bigger role in retail than anyone could have imagined. This was clear in the recent ‘Black Friday and Cyber Monday’ shopping spree in the US. As suggested by Forrester’s Sucharita Mulpuru, the web is becoming a more significant part of the traditional brick-and-mortar holiday shopping season.
An estimated 247 million people visited stores and websites between the Thursday and Sunday, spending a total of $59.1bn. This was an increase of 13% compared to 2011. The performance of these websites was key in withstanding the increase number of site hits. Without web performance checks in place, retailers could have lost vast sums of money.
There is hope for HMV. People may try and revive Nipper and his gramophone. If we are to see this famous logo again, it must be prepared to change its approach in a bid to win back the customers it has lost. The web is important. The performance of the web even more so.