Addicted to novelty since 2001

A New Model for Video Stores

I recently awoke from a lengthy dream in which I was preparing for an exam on Tuesday on, among other novels, Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. In light of the fact that I graduated from university in 1996, this is slightly peculiar. In the dream, as a study strategy, I went to a video store to rent the movie.

When I awoke, I had a new model of video stores in my head. Why are video stores massive spaces with rows and rows of empty cases? It’s inefficient for the business because they rent all that space, and inefficient for the consumer because the search procress isn’t optimized.

In truth, all you need is a counter and a few couches. You provide consumers with books–big photo albums–which have copies of the DVD case covers in them. Maybe their organized into new releases, or by genre, or nationality, or whatever. The consumer comes in, sits down, grabs a book, pages through it, and chooses the movie they want.

The next step would be to replace the books with tablet PCs. Because, traditionally, the positioning and amount of a video on the shelf give you a lot of information. Is the video good? Popular? Available? The tablet PCs could provide this information through a simple interface. It could also, then, enable you to do complex queries on the store’s stock. For example, “show me all the Brad Pitt movies that received at least 7.5/10 at and aren’t rated R”.

I doubt the video stores would do this, but it should then be a pretty simple task to expose their stock database to the Internet. Like the library, you could assess whether a movie is in without leaving your bed. Which, incidentally, is where I’m typing this entry. The video stores would be reticent to provide this data because it would reduce the opportunity to cross-sell you on crappy DVDs or candy.

Maybe this model already exists? I could see it in a city like New York, where real estate is extremely expensive.

7 Responses to “A New Model for Video Stores”

  1. Kim

    Ahh but the way they have it set up now, the consumer feels like they are shopping! I have more fun going up and down the aisles then I would sitting on a couch thumbing through a catalogue! I love your idea about the PC’s though! It would be awesome if they did that to their Internet sites!

  2. Rog

    I’ll agree with Kim there, feeling like you’re shopping, browsing up and down the aisles, that’s all part of the experience of why some people (note I said ‘some’, because I don’t rent videos much myself) rent videos.

    Haven’t there always been attempts at doing it a different way? I remember back in the 80’s there was a chain of video stores that would deliver the video to your door (unfortunately they wouldn’t come back to pickup returns). I seem to recall there’s a newfangled chain in the U.S. that does something like that now.

  3. alan

    Yep, there’s a bunch of newfangled chains around not just in the US, but Canada as well, that are delivering DVDs to your door via the mail system. I’m actually participating in two free trials at the moment, having already done two already earlier ths year. No, it’s not quite the same as walking up and down the aisles of empty cases. I’ll be sure to blog about my experiences once my free trials run out.

  4. Darren

    Indeed…I’ve pitched my couches-only idea to a few people, and they agreed that the shopping aspect of your trip to the video store was important.

    As for the DVD delivery services, I can see it being compelling but it’s not my bag. My decision to rent a video is pretty spontaneous–or is made hours, not days, before I plan to watch it. In short, I don’t have the patience to wait for it to arrive in the mail.

  5. Curt

    I rarely go to the video store because they are always out of the movie I want. You should be able to shop only and reserve a movie for up to an hour if it’s available. A touchscreen terminal instore would be nice. I agree all the wasted space is a joke. Spend the rent money on supplying more DVDs. As far as wanting to shop, count most men out, me included.

  6. Matthew

    I suspect one should not overlook the “frontage” part of the equation – in corporate-think, I suspect the sheer size equates to importance, both in the heads of the company folk, and (so they hope) in the consumer. Video stores loom large over neighbourhood corners, with any Rogers or Blockbuster outlet acting as a gigantic advertisement for itself. Like a real-estate pissing contest, video stores are that large because they can be.

  7. morph

    If Shaw had a bigger library you wouldn’t even have to leave the house. Shaw on demand is super-cool except for the smallish nature of the library. You can fast-forward, rewind, etc.

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