The story of HMV’s comeback has been a popular talking point at yoyo towers so we thought we’d investigate a little further…
HMV is one of those stores that is just a bit different to many of the 'run-of-the-mill' shops on the British high street. The act of sifting through records, or CD’s is something familiar to more than a couple of generations. The history of this British company reaches as far back as 1899. It was such a shame to hear back in May that HMV was lost to the administrators, a company that had become lost in its brand objective, which was to encourage people to ‘experience music’. It was great news to hear their administration company relaunched HMV this month, with a revamped attitude and a new digital strategy, which includes a brand new responsive company website, a separate online store, as well as creating mobile apps for the Android and iOS store.
'A company that had become lost in its brand objective, which was to allow people to ‘experience music’
Hilco, the administration company relaunching HMV took a hands on role, realigning the brand and its efforts for the digital age. Encouragingly, Hilco seems to have restructured and rebranded hmv, bringing fresh ideas to what was becoming a stale shopping experience. Introducing Band performances and in-store appearances by various artists reinvigorates public opinion of the brand, and gives consumers a reason to shop on the high street, and to visit their stores.
The main company page has been completely redesigned, taking on much more of a magazine focus, offering articles based on content rather than products. The design is completely different to any of its competitors, such as play.com, amazon, or High street supermarket chains, an important comparison, as recently HMV has slipped down to fourth in the top high street retailers for music and DVD’s, behind Asda, and Tesco. Offering this type of content allows their customer base to engage with the products they are buying, hitting their brand objective to allow people to ‘experience music’. These are fresh ideas for a stagnating commercial music scene. However, some would argue they are arriving to the online and digital scene a little too late.
'Some would argue they are arriving to the online and digital scene a little too late'
The online digital music store is again, at first glance a very interesting concept, compared to their competitors. However, unlike their main company website, it does feel that it needs more work. After purchasing a couple of albums from the store, it feels a little clunky, with certain ‘UX paths’ not quite thought out properly. Ironically certain features, such as the aforementioned ‘drop down’ media player, are absent from the digital store. However, as a starting point, it is an approachable alternative to the likes of iTunes, Amazon, and the high street stores, allowing consumers to quickly view the products on offer, and to compare them against their usual sources to purchase music, adding to the ‘online high street’ competition.
The website uses a very clean navigation, hiding most of the main links permanently in a pull out side navigation. This particular technique is typically saved for screen sizes where space is an issue, in this case it seems the designers want to maximise the presence of the content on the page, removing any visual ‘clutter’ that may detract if such a standard menu bar were to be in place.
On each article page, the user is greeted by the large ‘hero’ image at the top of the page. A neat, ‘scroll-to’ effect is then used to snap the user to the top of the article when a mouse wheel is moved, or when clicking the ‘down arrow’ on the right hand side of the page. The site also includes interesting hidden features such as ‘spotify-style’ track previews. When the user clicks an album cover image, for example at the side of an article, a drop down music player will appear at the top of the page. Finding the hidden functionality to the site such as this media player make the HMV site a very rich experience for the user, which is encouraging, as it does feel like there is more to come in the future.
An interesting point through the whole of the site is there is no real evidence of a ‘Sales Funnel'. There is a distinct lack of ‘Buy now’ or ‘Download here’ links, these are only placed at the end of articles about artists, or DVD releases etc. A confident approach, but at times it could confuse consumers who may simply want to read an article, and immediately download the album, or a consumer who would approach the site, to purchase, rather than read. The lack of ‘pointers’ towards their ‘hmvdigital’ online store could prove a problem in the future.
Only time will tell if their efforts have been enough to cement the brand back in the public imagination as the main place to experience music. It’ll be a tall order to compete with the likes of iTunes or Google’s play store, which are hardwired to Apple and Googles’ mobile devices.
I, at least will be watching their progress pretty closely! Here’s to the future for His Masters Voice.
This blog post was originally written by myself for Yoyo Design, the original content can be found here