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Another casualty of retail war
Another casualty of retail war
Posted by Gizmo on May 2, 2008 :

sounccontrol UK music retailer

The downturn in the global economy is hitting hard everywhere you look. Credit crunch this, negative equity that - but notably it's confidence in the high street that is also being hammered, as well as an evolving internet based retail model that hitting the shops hard. So it comes as sad news (but not necessarily surprising) that UK high street music retailer Sound Control has gone into administration and closed 10 stores, leaving 14 stores trading for 90 more days until a buyer can be found.

So who or what is to blame? Well let's take a look at our shopping habits - online shopping is becoming the norm these days. We might well go to high street shops and look at, grope and generally shop soil the hottest bank account emptying nextlevelness, but just how often do we stay long enough to part with the cash? We're all now prepared to wait a few days, spend a couple of hours in the hands of Froogle and after beating the phone to get the already super low online price down even further, only then will we hit the "buy" button.

Obviously, for the high street retailer who has to support an actual real live establishment, it becomes near impossible for them to survive. They simply can't match the online prices - I know as every time I go to a shop I ask if they'll match this silly price I got off of the net. More often than not, they say they'd love to but can't. Now if it's close enough price wise, I'll always go with the real person in the real shop and all the advantages that dealing with flesh and blood offers. But if there's cold hard cash to be saved, you'd be mad (or rich) to turn it down.

Ultimately, stores have become little more than touchy feely showrooms for online shoppers. Products that require some hands on experience are there for Joe Public to grope at, after which it's a case of flexing the plastic online stylee. But in times when we're driven by our pockets, we're all guilty of switching our shopping habits. With an exponentially increasing amount of info online, it's much easier to make purchasing decisions based on the actual user experiences than having to use the gear yourself. This leaves you with shops on a global scale to buy from as well. And with an ever increasing number of manufacturers happy to sell direct via the web, even the online retailers will begin to suffer. I know I'd prefer to buy direct rather than from a middle man if at all possible.

There was a time when it was felt that the town centre was turning into a wasteland because of out of town shopping complexes. But it's quite possible that the days of the real live shop could be soon over for some sectors of the retail industry.

NOTE: No further comments are being accepted.
9 comments to this story

On May 2, 2008, Just Me said this:
I really like the idea of being able to shop online. People in areas that have limited resources, the internet is a goldmine.

It *used* to be "yeah, living in NYC is great, we have all the great music and things that others cant get". Those days are gone.

EVERYTHING is available in the internet, isn't it great? Retailers better wake up and realize that.

On May 2, 2008, Siya said this:
Its not just the retail sector that's been hit, in recent months many CD manufacturing plants such as SFH UK were called into administration as well.........

On May 2, 2008, Just Me said this:
Lots of companies are going under, because they refuse to figure out how to embrace the power of the internet.

The information age is a hell of a drug.

On May 2, 2008, Siya said this:
It's to do with their outdated business model, they have too many overheads and support too many staff, buy too much stock, pay for too much storage, had too many locations for which they were paying too much rent & rates, too much print advertising... all at a time when everyone's hurting so all the traditional business rules and structure's aren't adhered to in terms of exclusivity etc......

Sound Control had notoriously bad customer service but very competitive prices, it was able to provide those prices because it has such great buying power.

Whereas 10 years ago it was difficult to get much of the audio gear you wanted, nowadays manufacturer's are willing to sell their products to any and everyone who's got the money to pay for it, there's very few people that still have exclusivity and official authorised retailers because when times are hard, you sell to anyone willing to buy.

So there wasn't anything you could get at let's say Turnkey that you couldn't get from a more competitive online retailer.

One could open a large store in an affordable location outside of the hustle & bustle and do 90% of your orders online and through mail order.

Turnkey's online service was terrible, it was almost an after thought, like yeah we need a website, quick chuck something out there, rather than investing in specialized online staff and specialized online service. Couple this with competition from all angles, ebay & record shops expanding into dj & pro audio equipment & other EU companies providing cheaper & competitive pricing then, your basically fucked especially when you are so over exposed with the overheads they needed to meet.

On May 3, 2008, vjock said this:
"Its not just the retail sector that's been hit, in recent months many CD manufacturing plants such as SFH UK were called into administration as well........."

I'm lovin' it....never likes cd's anyway,really happy cd manufacturers are cloasing down...hoooray

And yes record sales are up in 2008rolleyes.gif

On May 3, 2008, gobbinboy said this:
I've never been to a Soundcontrol shop but I don't think you can exclusively blame online stores. For every successful chain there's an unsuccessful one. Remember Rumbelows?
To survive in today's marketplace you need an online prescence but that doesn't mean you can't run a successful shopfront. The Internet is a ready made excuse with which to cover up mistakes or mismanagement.
Good service will always translate into sales.
A good local store that I use is Langley Sound & Light in Slough, who readily admit that they can't always beat online prices but often do or at least match them and i return to them because of their good service and product knowledge.
There'll always be a place for good shops.

On May 5, 2008, KD said this:
A large UK DJ gear retailer has also laid off members of staff. It is not only the DJ market that has seen the sign of the times. The credit crunch will take out a hell of a lot more before long.

On May 5, 2008, tim tempest said this:
All well and easy to blame the internet and outmoded business models, but how about it just being badly run? After the way I was treated by them, I laughed.


On May 9, 2008, DJ Dudie said this:
KD- who else in the UK is laying people off? I was gonna put in for a job somewhere!

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