HMV recently reported full year profits halved from the previous year. HMV’s deteriorating results will be no surprise to customers like me who have endured their ineptly managed retail proposition. Contrast the reality with the lardy dose of Management Consultant Guffitis delivered by Chief Executive Simon Fox when he was appointed over a year ago.
“I am a huge admirer of the HMV and Waterstone’s brands, which are renowned for their specialist positioning, passionate employees and unrivalled range authority, and it will be a privilege to lead the Group. We all know that these are highly competitive markets, but I firmly believe that the stellar attributes which are in the DNA of the brands and operating culture will enable the Group’s businesses to successfully differentiate themselves and to compete effectively through a variety of complementary retail channels.”
No doubt the Staff and Investors receiving this high-carb dose got a sugar rush to the happy receptors in the brain but it hasn’t lasted, consider 3 recent experiences I’ve had.
HMV operate differential pricing for the same product in the same store. You can pay £19.99 for a DVD but if it is on promotion as a “stickered” product it will be charged at, say, £6.99. Present the “un-stickered” product at the till you will be charged the higher price and not be told it is available cheaper. As a retail proposition imagine if M & S or BHS charged you a higher price for a shirt because you hadn’t ferreted through the display and found the one with the sale sticker? When I fed this back to a store manager, Andy in Friars Square, Aylesbury, his response was I should try shopping somewhere else. I’m surprised HMV have not nominated him for the “Retailer of the Year” award! I don’t see what was passionate or stellar about Andy telling me to shop elsewhere?
Similarly, I ordered a DVD from HMV’s website for Mother’s Day in March. After chasing they emailed me at the end of May to say they could no longer obtain it from their supplier. Strangely, when I checked Play.com, CD.Wow and Amazon.com and 3 other sites the same day they all had it in stock. They took over two months to tell me they had a stockout and only after I chased on their not too clever and overloaded “Helpline” twice. Is this an acceptable CRM standard and is the advantage of of websales not that they can have real time stock information? What is the failed call ratio on their “Helpline”??
As for Waterstones, this used to be staffed by literate people who cared about books not the lift and shift operation it is today with display positions and promotions going to publishers who pay for them. The change is best illustrated by a recent anecdote (in Aylesbury) where I asked if they had the Histories of Herodetus in stock to get the response from one of the staff, wearing her “We love books” badge – “Is this a recent publication?” Indeed written about 420 BC and slightly out of copyright! She then responded to my query by checking the stock system and telling me they didn’t have the book in stock. I then went and found this “out of stock” item on the shelf myself. “unrivalled range authority”? “specialist positioning”??
In a competitive market lazy retailers like HMV will be deservedly punished by consumers. If you agree / disagree with me let Simon Fox know at firstname.lastname@example.org . He just loves to hear from real customers and will no doubt respond whilst singing his signature tune “Hey,hey,it’s in my DNA”!