As a long-time Netflix customer, I didn’t pay too much attention when BlockbusterÂ first launched its DVD rental by mail service.Â However, all of that changedÂ recently.Â Â A bit of history first…Â
Before Netflix (yes there were other DVD rental by mail companies,Â but Netflix made the first big splash), Blockbuster owned the DVD rental market.Â The Blockbuster story was to just get in your car, drive a few minutes to your nearestÂ Blockbuster and with their wide selection, findÂ the perfect movie.Â Â As long as you return itÂ on time, no problems.
Netflix exploded on the scene positioning itself as a more convenient option -Â go to their website and select a move, it isÂ delivered to your mailbox, when you are done watching it, just put back in the mail and they will send you another.Â Also, you can get ratings andÂ other information that helped you select a movie.Â Oh, and none of those dreaded late fees.Â Netflix changed the rules ofÂ the DVD rental business.
When Blockbuster got into the DVD rental by mail business, I really didn’t pay much attention.Â As a consumer, I was perfectly happy with Netflix.Â I found the Netflix site easy-to-use, and as they have added more distribution centers, the turnaround timeÂ was very good. Also, with hundreds of movies in my queue, I had no reason to complemplate a move.Â As a marketer, I saw Blockbuster as taking a “me-too” position – nothing really compelling to differentiate themselves.
However, Blockbuster recently announced that their DVD rental customers can now return movies to their local Blockbuster store.Â Now, from a consumer perspective, that is something truly differentiating.Â There are times when one of my Netflix movies doesn’t fit a need (e.g. the kids want to watch a movie) or I still haven’t received my new movie and in the past, I actually rented a movie from Blockbuster.Â Being able to do that withouth any additional cost is valuable to me and I am guessing to others, as well.Â As a marketer, I applaud Blockbuster for turning their brick-and-mortar stores back into a DVD rent by mail strength, especially sinceÂ its not like Netflix can open 5,000 stores like Blockbuster.
My one complaint with Blockbuster is the integration between online and offline is not complete.Â For example, if I returnÂ a by-mail movie at Blockbuster and rent a new one, I need to manually remove the new one from my online queue.Â Also, I need to have an account at the local store – even though I haveÂ an online account.Â Still steps in the right direction and enough for me to test drive the Blockbuster service.