August 17, 2005, 12:00 AM

FYI: FYE rolls out a store-based music download program

Trans World Entertainment, which operates the FYE chain, is rolling out a national web-enabled music download program aimed at generating multi-channel sales both online and in about 800 stores.

After more than a year of laboratory and pilot testing in two stores in New York City and Albany, NY, Trans World Entertainment, which operates the FYE chain, is rolling out a new web-enabled download music program for its bricks-and-mortar locations.

Numerous online services and web retailers offer shoppers an online store where they can purchase music downloads. But Trans World, which operates 800 FYE stores, is among the first wave of chain retailers to develop a multi-channel strategy tied to music downloads.

On the web at, the chain offers online shoppers three programs to download music. One program charges customers about 99 cents to download a song and two others are subscription services that range from $8.99 to $14.99 per month, depending upon if the shopper is using a personal computer or a mobile device to download music.

Now FYE is giving shoppers the opportunity to purchase individual songs, an entire track or a download subscription at about 4,000 web commerce-enabled music stations in stores. The rollout is expected to start next month, says Greg Harper, strategic advisor to the chairman on digital media for Trans World. “Our customers listen to music any way they want and we want to sell them music in any way that meets their needs,” he says.

Trans World, No. 323 in the Internet Retailer Top 400 Guide to Retail Web Sites, develops and deploys its own technology. By the end of the year, the retailer expects to deploy web commerce-enabled music listening stations in FYE stores that let shoppers listen to music snippets and then download the song or tracks they are listening to.

Download music shoppers can pay for the transaction at the listening station using a credit card. Another payment feature lets customers keep the downloaded music in an online shopping cart, continue to browse other merchandise and then pay for the download at a regular checkout when they are ready to leave.

“Many of our customers are in their 20s and they grew up using the Internet,” Harper says. “We made the investment in the database integration, the servers and the listening station technology. These commerce-enabled listening stations are another way for customers to shop.”

Trans World’s online music library has more than 1.2 million titles. The library is available in a download store on The web site receives about 500,000 monthly visits, according to comScore Networks Inc.

Though the web commerce-enabled listening station is designed for mobile devices and Internet shoppers, Trans World believes that having online shopping options in its stores will also generate more cross selling opportunities. “They can browse and buy or download and buy,” Harper says.

Once the web-wired listening stations are deployed and Trans World and FYE managers have had a chance to study the reaction from customers, the program could be expanded to include more options for cell phone users.

The company is currently conducting another pilot test using Bluetooth technology for customers with Bluetooth-enabled cell phones, Harper says.


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