HMV in tune with the mainstream

With HMV's online store launching in Australia on Friday, Hazell said most online consumers were intimidated by oppressive advertising, irrelevant "gizmos" and "flashing lights" on most retail Websites. Therefore, he said, HMV's key competitors, Sanity.com.au and Chaos Music, had made online purchasing difficult and only accessible to more experienced, "Internet-savvy" consumers.

"Consumers from the real world want to see something relevant when they shop online. They want to see familiar colours and graphics and things laid out in a similar manner to the real thing. If your dad, or anyone else walking down the street, goes into Sanity or Chaos, it's completely new. They've never seen this before," he said.

Hazell said HMV's online store would fulfil orders through its store in Sydney's CBD. "If you look at some of our local competitors, who have fulfilment from outside Australia, they have an enormous catalogue. But if you try and order something, you'll find three quarters of it isn't available," he said.

Sanity.com.au and Chaos Music fulfilled only a small portion of their orders in Australia, he claimed. The majority of Chaos Music's product orders were fulfilled in California and most of Sanity.com.au's were fulfilled in Germany and the US.

"Consumers see an Australian dollar price when ordering from an Australian-based site, and then, when the product turns up, there's been a fluctuation in the exchange rate and they [often] end up paying more for the product than anticipated," he said.

The UK-based music retailer launched its UK Website early last year, with Canadian, Japanese and US Websites expected to follow this year.

Hazell said his company would form distribution partnerships with EMAP, publisher of Smash Hits and FHM, and Next Media, publisher of Rolling Stone magazine, whose products appear in HMV's retail outlets. HMV is also in discussion with Tribe.com, which provides ticketing distribution.

Chaos Music and Sanity.com.au were unavailable for comment.

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Byron Kaye

PC World

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