Music retailer HMV is to redesign its website so that it can sell music and games to home computers.
The service will enable consumers to search, purchase and download music and computer games in digital form, from an expanding database of content. It is set to launch in the early part of 2002.
"We believe there will be a real market for digital distribution in the future, which will complement our existing high street offer. Now is the time to start putting the building blocks in place," commented Stuart Rowe, ecommerce director of HMV Europe.
The move is an attempt to retain market share, as the internet delivery of music threatens to steal revenue from high street music sales.
The threat was highlighted by the popular Napster website which allowed users to swap music files online for free. Although the website has been closed down pending a relaunch, its popularity has shown how music companies can use the internet to distribute music cheaply and easily to customers. Napster is due to open as a subscription site next year.
HMV's move highlights a trend among online retailers to improve the experience for users, in order to boost use of websites in the current economic climate.
Food retailer Sainsbury's this week said it has seen an increase of 30 per cent in online orders since the relaunch of its online shopping site.
The improved Sainsbury's To You site was launched in October to make it faster and easier for customers to use. However, the company will not reveal figures for its online revenue or order numbers when its interim results come out this week.
"We have seen a downturn in issues raised with the helpline," a spokesperson said. Some users have experienced problems with the improved site, but the company insisted that this is not representative of customer experience as a whole.
Sainsbury's faces stiff competition in the online food sales sector from market leader Tesco. In the six months ended 11 August Tesco.com had sales of £146m, a 77 per cent rise against the same period last year.
The Tesco service has over 750,000 registered users and generates upwards of 70,000 orders a week. Tesco dominates the market that includes Sainsbury's, Iceland and Asda, with a 50 per cent market share.
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