Wednesday, August 12, 2009

NetFlix and the art of convenience

Back in the days, Blockbuster (BB) was it. Truly it. A place where you went to grab a piece of action or fantasy or some nice romance, and bring it to the realms of your home turf. Never mind the insane rush next day to return that favored piece so as to avoid being fined (aka penalty for being lazy). Ah, those were the BB days, and I hold them really close to my heart, just as I hold that American Beauty "flying plastic paper bag" scene.

But, then came NetFlix and shook everything like a 6.5 earthquake. It gulped the competition, and did not even burp! I would have not left BB if it wasn't for those insane rushes. And, so I decided to give NetFlix a try - the year 2004. I was hooked. I ordered three movies at a time, and there was no penalty for being late (read that lazy). When I got a broken disc, they exchanged it and there was not a bad word between us : ) Smooth, I thought, and so as I just said, I was hooked.

Then came the age of internet videos, and I let NetFlix go (2006). I watched free movies on the net, some even with an awful awful print. But, I did it. I had to roll with the times. Watched grainy, oddly positioned films on, but hey, they were free. Soon though the free part wore off, and I was left with a very grainy feeling about these sites. So, I stopped.

Today, I am back on NetFlix - all I had to do was queue my films, and the rest was taken care by them. I set up my account on Monday, and today I already have my three films. How convenient, and yup, you heard me, I am hooked. I can watch clean prints and not feel like a perpetrator of piracy.

This got me thinking. How does NetFlix do it? How does it make watching movies not only affordable but convenient also? The reality is that it all boils down to what is your business model and how you can sustain it. NetFlix was an idea that made anyone go "Oh, why didn't I think of it" AFTER the company became successful. Prior to that, everyone was skeptical and a little cynical. But, these people at NetFlix really made the process from signing up to squealing with joy on receiving the movie -- a pain-free 3 steps rule. And, that hit a very sweet bell with all the movie buffs out ther (which, I think, would be everyone :) ) I see this as a learning and inspiring story - something that can help me think differently for my business model at Banno Raani. What can I do to make my products/services closer to my clients? How can I make the shopping experience unique? How do I maintain the product flow and manage costs?

Well, that's my homework for now. But, I know this for sure, inspiration is all around us...its just a matter of us really looking for it!


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