Amid the launch of a number of online music sites led by the arrival of iTunes to South Africa in early December 2012, BusinessTech interviews Darren Levy, the chief executive of Look & Listen over his expectations for the industry.
BT: What impact do you see iTunes (and Simfy) having on Look & Listen?
DL: “Simfy is great as a music discovery platform however as you cannot download the music it requires internet access that the local market do not all have access to, 24hours. Simfy promotes sales as people are discovering new music and are then going to download sites to purchase. While iTunes leads the legal download way in the international music market, people in the local market do still enjoy the experience of going in store. So it’s not as if customers are suddenly rushing to iTunes to download.
“We haven’t seen a change in our download numbers which may be due to loyal support, the various payment options such as Discovery Miles, EFT and eBucks, as well as the fact that some people are still buying physical product together with downloads in the same basket.”
BT: Will these online services change the way Look & Listen functions at all?
DL: “Look & Listen’s range is continuously evolving and growing. We knew the launch of iTunes SA was imminent however have not seen a negative impact on downloads or physical sales.
“Regardless of music streaming or more download sites flooding the market we are more than just a music store. Our other formats such as electronics, gifts/gadgets, toys and gaming also play an important role and form part of our brand of being an all-encompassing ‘entertainment store’.”
BT: How is Look & Listen adapting to the move online?
DL: “Look & Listen has had an online presence and an e-commerce platform for a number of years so we are well entrenched in this space. We are focusing more and more online as we see the trend of online shopping growing as more people understand and trust the online shopping experience.
“It’s important to us to continue to offer our online fans a wide variety of products and as we add other product ranges such as toys, Samsung product and other electronics we ensure these too are made available online.”
BT: How many brick and mortar stores does Look n Listen currently have?
BT: I had read that the store in CanalWalk was closing down? Is this a financially motivated decision? A sign of the times, poor positioning?
DL: “Our new retail product offering necessitated alternative space within in the Centre”.
BT: What traction have you seen regarding your online offering and do sales surpass sales made physically at your stores?
DL: “Online is growing very rapidly. We have 28 trusted stores and some customers do still want to touch and see the product before purchasing. We have however, increased our online sales considerably since last year indicating that more people are comfortable with purchasing online and seeing the benefit in this.”
Will you eventually get to a point where you function purely as an online service?
DL: “This will be dependent on how shopping trends move forward. Our focus groups and the number of customers who still go through our stores indicate that it may still be quite some time till we function purely on line.”