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Learning from a Competitor’s Experience Essay

David Cook was known to be the father of Blockbuster Inc. In 1982, Cook founded the Cook Data Services, Inc which wholly offered software and computer devices. This company was founded in Dallas, Texas. Cook then ventured to another field of business by the recommendation of his wife. Thus, in the year 1985, Cook opened the first Blockbuster store (Microsoft Encarta 2007). Since then, the company has been hailed as one of the largest entertainment brands in the world. Blockbuster offers movie and gaming rentals on-store and online.

With over 8,000 stores throughout the world, it serves not just as a rental store but also a retailer store for movies and other related media productions. To name a few, franchises of the company can be found in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Uruguay, Ireland, Panama, Puerto Rico, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Brazil, Chile, Taiwan, Italy, Denmark, Venezuela and Columbia (Blockbuster Online). Besides its vast territory, the company also offers a wide range of selection of movies and other entertainment merchandise.

Though it has just started at that time, it is the only video rental company that employs computer monitoring for its customers’ accounts. Not long, the company opened more branches in different parts of the United States where it first flourished. Later on, the company was then renamed to Blockbuster Entertainment Corporation and then further took its present name as Blockbuster, Inc. In 1987, H. Wayne Huizenga of the Waste Management, Inc. entered the company and expanded it overseas making it the largest video rental chain store not only in the United States but also in the United Kingdom.

It was then owned by Viacom and after which became independent from the company (Microsoft Encarta 2007). Presently, the CEO of Blockbuster Inc. is James Keyes, former president and CEO of 7-Eleven (Yahoo Finance). The company offers a wide range of services to its clients. As has been mentioned earlier, it not only presents rentals but also retails movies and other media. Music and gaming merchandise can also be found in most of its stores. Store hours are mostly from 10:00am to midnight every day. Videos and other media are available in large quantities and a variety of formats in each store ensuring that all customer needs are satisfied.

The customers can also choose from their various options for membership plans. Recently, the company has expanded not only with on-store rentals, but also by mail and via the internet, making it easy for customers who reside in places where no branches of the company are erected. The company also provides security for patronage of non-adult customers. No roughly violent films and pornographic videos are included in their broad selection. Although there are some videos that are sexy, the company ensures that no youngster could rent or buy such a movie without the consent of the parents if they have a family account.

Even though Blockbuster is a fully-pledged investor company, it participates in many community affairs activities in its region. Its cooperation bears alliances involving Children’s Miracle Network and Boys & Girls Clubs of America. It also partakes in many cultural diversity organizations as well as entertainment events such as National Urban League and American Black Film Festival respectively (Blockbuster Online). Blockbuster Inc. is not the only chain of video rental stores although it is one of the competitive companies in the industry.

It has its fairly viable competitors in the market both including on-ground and online stores. One of its on-ground competitors is Hollywood Video which is also a subsidiary of Movie Gallery. Just Like Blockbuster Inc. , Movie Gallery, Inc. focuses on retail stores and online subscription plans of video, gaming and music merchandise (Movie Gallery Website). Nevertheless, it is way behind Blockbuster Inc. when it comes to both in-store and online rental services. Another competitor is Hastings Entertainment, Inc which is also based in the United States.

This company only operates in the domestic market. In addition, the company not only offers video, music and entertainment merchandise. It is a miscellaneous retailer of a wide variety of products from videos to t-shirts and books. It also has its website which offers its vast selection of products (Wright Investor Service). The most controversial competitor of Blockbuster Inc. is Netflix. Netflix was the pilot company to offer online service for video rentals and retailing. Due to this endeavor, it is the top online service for the said industry (Crunchbase).

Nevertheless, Blockbuster Inc. tried to counter the company by building its own online rental and retailing service. From then on, although it never surpassed the quantity of members that Netflix has, Blockbuster has exceeded the number of visitors Netflix has on its website. Website Analysis Blockbuster Inc. started to embark on online rental service in the Unites States last August 2004 (Press Release). This is in counteraction of Netflix’s leading online movie rental service. The company’s website is popularly called Blockbuster Online and is somehow independent with on-ground stores.

Visiting the website, observations can be formulated regarding the effectiveness and creativity of the website to online customers. The welcome page of Blockbuster Online is simple but effective. It is simple in a sense that no pop-ups can be found; there are no visual animations or advertising videos; no sounds and background music to entice the customers. Nevertheless, it is quite effective for the very reason that it uses the familial connection occurring with its customers. This can be evident through the use of a family picture in front of a television, assumed to be watching movies.

It gives the customers a sense of home and belongingness. On another visit of the website, the featured picture is a woman lying down on a sofa in front of the television. These also give an idea that although movie viewing is comfortable in a family setting, it can also be done alone and still enjoy the activity. In both pictures, the people involve are holding remote controls. This very small detail gives an impression that each are about to watch a movie although if one looks at the pictures alone, the television is not visible.

Furthermore, the movie guides and popcorn on the table in the pictures give a new dimension to movie home viewing. The said details represent the idea that satisfying movie viewing is not only possible in the big screens but also possible in the home. One would even be made to conclude that it would be a lot feasible and safe to watch movies in the home rather than in theatres. The color scheme of the website, with its blue, light blue, yellow and white major colors, is also very appropriate for the services it offers. The colors used give an impression of brightness and lightness of the website.

It gives a serene and calming touch to anyone who visits the website. In the simplicity of the welcome page of the website, the customers may also be persuaded to think that the services it offers are practical and cheap. It makes them feel that fees are inexpensive and affordable. On the other hand, the welcome page can be seen as a very uncreative effort in designing. As one lingers longer on the page, it can be noticed that the website looks like an ordinary advertisement box in a newspaper page. This is unfavorable since it will decrease the customers’ interest in exploring more of the website.

Although the welcome page is uncomplicated, it contains many promotional materials like the company’s offer for a free trial. It also presents free shipping and a step-by-step menu to help customers who are new to the website. The three easy steps to enjoy the rental service include select movies, receive by mail and return by mail or in-store exchange (Blockbuster Online). The various different links from the welcome page to the other pages of the website makes up for the simplicity of the welcome page. Complex links can be found in the different parts and corners of the welcome page.

Links to a variety of web pages regarding the company are located at the bottom of the welcome page. This is very uneasy for the customers since it is in very small font sizes that it becomes unnoticeable. This part of the website includes the terms and conditions policy of the company. Nonetheless, the rent and buy movie links on the page are easy to follow. One particular detail that has caught attention is the link opening default settings of the website. In the links related to rental services and other customer-related topics such as movie categories and new movie releases, the links open on the current page.

On the other hand, if the link leads to the company’s information or financial and business issues such as investing and the company profile, the link opens on a new window. This is very interesting since it implicitly draws the line between customer-related issues and internal issues of the company. Further on, the different links to the secondary websites are too many and are hard to track which may lead to the customer getting lost in the whole website. This may also be the effect of the website’s moderate organization of the links.

Nevertheless, upon familiarity of the website links, customers can get used to the incomprehensible first impression organization of the website. The sign-up page of the website is simply designed too. A step-by-step process of the whole transaction of the rental service is included in a graphical and a worded method. It looks like a comic strip which accounts for its easy-to-comprehend characteristic. The big sign-up button is also interesting enough due to its large size and appealing color and font type. These properties of the page may convince the customer to sign up for a membership plan.

Features of the rental service are also in the web page in brief making it a summary of the whole service that the company provides. The rent movies page is quite colorful and interesting especially for movie fanatics. It includes different categories and featured movies. In all of these categories, the movies featured all have small movie posters with the relative size of a DVD front cover. It gives a very unique influence on the customer since the customer can somehow see a glimpse of the movie. The rental page also provides a link on the procedure on how to rent via the internet.

Like the rental page, the buyers’ page is also filled with the DVD front cover posters of on-sale movies. The structure also consists of different movie categories wherein the customer can choose from. However, in the buyers’ page, the movies in feature incorporate a button which adds the movie to the list of movies the customer wants to buy. Together with this element is the price of the movie. The payment terms can be done through credit card and other online wiring financial services such as PayPal. This is very secure for online clients, thus contributing with the website’s ease of operation characteristic.

Another amazing element of the website is its trailers and video clips page. In this part, the customer can take a glance of the movies and also watch the trailer of the movie. It is very appropriate and efficient since most customers would first want to see clips of the movie before they rent or buy it. This amazing feature adds up to the website’s effectiveness. Some of the web pages in the site require information upload from the customers and members. Such web pages include the store locator and the contact page (Blockbuster Online).

In the store locator page, the client is asked to type in the address and then a button is clicked to reveal stores near the vicinity. This is very useful for online customers who wanted to avail of in-store exchanges that the company offers. Although the feature is very simple, it has its own link page to set it apart from the rest of the website. On the contact page, the client can contact the company on certain issues such as membership and DVD issues. However, the system used is not that of a presentation method but rather an e-mail type.

In this method, instead of giving the company’s contact numbers, headquarters address and email-address, the company asks the customer to input the category issue, the client’s information and contact details as well as the messages or questions concerning the company’s services. It is much like an e-mail web page where one can submit the mail directly to the company. The system that the company uses is very reliable and easy to manage for their part since they can somehow sort the mails that they receive. This method also prevents prank callers and mailers from dumping junk on the company’s telephone lines and mailbox.

Nevertheless, the negative part for this process is that the customers may feel reluctant to communicate with the company since the company requires personal information from the client which can be jeopardized unintentionally. The help page is also available for the customers. In the help page, the customers can find a way to better understand the structure of the large website of the company. In this page, the customers can also clarify doubts and questions regarding rental services, membership plans and promotional materials. Similar to the rental and buyers’ page, the help page contains categories.

In this page, help issues are categorized in different classifications so as to better answer the customers’ concerns. A very interesting section of the Blockbuster Online is its information page. Found on this page are the company profile, financial reports, investors page and others. It actually has nothing to do to the services that the company may offer to the clients but rather it consists of bits and pieces of the company’s needs such as employees and investors. In this page, business opportunities such as franchises and careers opportunities such as jobs for prospective employees are found.

The financial reports of the company are also published on this area. It gives the company a sense of transparency for its customers. It enables the clients to see what has been happening inside the company. This is a very significant factor for such business establishments since it fosters trust from the customers. The webpage also offers a sidebar in almost all its links. For example, on the rental page, a queue list is on the right sidebar which enables the customer to view what movies he has selected for rental while on the buyers page, the customer has a shopping cart where the items he wishes to buy are listed.

The sidebar also gives information on movies and other rental and retail issues. The sidebar is a good element to include in a website. Another noteworthy detail is the search engine located on the website which allows the customers to enter keywords and search the whole website. This feature is very helpful for the clients. In the help page, such search engine is also available to find answers on frequently asked questions. This gives the clients ease of access to the help page. In summary, the website is very effective in achieving its goal of reaching customers through the internet.

Although the rental service via the internet and by mail is only available in the United States, the online service gives an outlook of the whole company. The layout and the consistent use of the color scheme give a unified theme to the website giving the excellent yet uncomplicated look and feel of the website. And though the web design is quite simple and moderately unattractive, it attains its goal to be an alternative and accessible way of rental service to customers in a variety of places. Service and Price Options Membership Plans and Retail Options

Blockbuster Online renders two major membership or subscription plans for its customers. These two categories are Blockbuster Total Access and Blockbuster by Mail (Blockbuster Online). The only difference on the two major membership plans is that in Blockbuster Total Access, rental services include both by mail and in-store exchanges of movies while in Blockbuster by Mail, in-store exchanges are not allowed. The different plans under these two categories also vary. Blockbuster Total Access can either be premium or just ordinary.

In premium, the customer has an unlimited number of in-store exchanges while in ordinary, limited in-store access is available. Regarding Blockbuster by Mail plans, the customer can order online for movie rentals and these are delivered by mail on the customer’s doorstep. Exchanges and returns of movie rentals are also done online and by mail (Blockbuster Online). Thus, in this type of membership plan, the customer need not go to a Blockbuster store. This membership plan is perfectly suitable for subscribers who do not have rental stores in their vicinity.

Prices for rental services differ depending on the membership plan of the customers (see Comparison Chart). Retail services are by movie basis. Furthermore, online retail service is done via credit card or online wiring service. In addition to be able to buy movies on line, the customer has to have an account on the Blockbuster website. Prices of movies on sale depend on the movies’ producers. Nonetheless, new releases are much more expensive than old movie copies. Comparison Chart Movie Selections The company has a wide range of movie selections.

It also offers TV shows and series as well as game software and music videos. The copies of movies are purportedly sufficient for its number of members and customers. However, the rental service is still subject to the availability of the movie copies. The number of copies also depends on the movie type. Classics have much less number of copies that new releases. Furthermore, most wanted videos have more copies than ordinary hit movies. The large selection of movies is simplified by the website through organizing the movies into different categories and subcategories.

The major categories are action & adventure, animation, comedy, documentary, drama, family & kids, foreign, horror, music & performing arts, mystery & suspense, romance, science fiction & fantasy, special interest, sports & fitness, television, war and western. Under these categories are further subcategories of which some are listed below: Action & adventure – action comedy, action thriller, adventure drama. Science fiction & fantasy – sea adventure, swashbucklers, sword and sandal. Animation – animated musical, anime. Comedy – comedy drama, comedy thriller, dark humor, family comedy, heist/caper comedy.

Documentary – adventure travel, art history, biography, history, language & literature. Drama – addiction drama, police drama, childhood drama, crime drama, medical drama. Family & kids – infant, toddler, children’s entertainment, family classics, kids’ fantasy. Foreign – Asian, Chinese, European, Filipino, French, German, Indian, Spanish, Japanese. Horror – alien invasion, ghosts & haunts, monsters, occult, nature-gone-wild. Music & performing arts – concerts, classical, dance, gospel, opera, musicals, singers. Mystery & suspense – crime, detective film, spy, whodunit, political thriller.

Sports and fitness – extreme sports, Olympics, dance, diet & nutrition, yoga and Tai Chi. (Blockbuster Online). Competitor’s Information Application Blockbuster Inc. offers a lot of useful information and business experiences as well as practical guides for the establishment of a beginner. It gives insight that can be utilized in order to enter the market with security and stability. The long history and the many amendments to the company’s organization and management can be a lesson to future business establishments even in a different industry. Experienced website history is possessed by Blockbuster Inc.

although they are not the first mover in the field of online rental service. Nevertheless, their advantage is that they have made possible and excellent revisions of competitors’ websites making their own website less prone to errors and negative feedbacks. It is therefore this very advantage that a new emerging business can take hold from the information obtained from Blockbuster Online. To further explain such circumstance, it is appropriate to give specific situations. For example, the simplicity of Blockbuster’s website instills over familiarity of customers which can lead to decrease of interest.

Thus, if one has to build up a website on the same line of business, one has to make sure that the website include more interesting designs such as animations and video presentations. Addition of background music may also be added to increase the website’s attraction. Scroll over animations and flash presentations of step-by-step procedures may also be employed. It is also appropriate that confidentiality of customers’ information is prioritized. One very important detail that Blockbuster Online lacks must be included in this new website.

This detail concern a web page dedicated for the employees of the company where every employee have access to more confidential data regarding the company. This will give an impression to consumers that the company values its own people. Furthermore, a web page containing a live chat room may be of help for quick answers of clients that regard their time too valuable to wait for questions on video rental services. The gathering of data from a future competitor of a budding business establishment is just the beginning of the many challenges and trials that the business will undergo to gain stability and prosperity.

It is even the easiest way to accomplish. Data gathering is uncomplicated. What is important is the ability to evaluate the obtained data and utilize it for the benefit of one’s own company. References BlockBuster Online. —. Retrieved June 29, 2008, from http://www. blockbuster. com/. Crunchbase. Netflix. Retrieved June 29, 2008, from http://www. crunchbase. com/company/netflix. Microsoft Encarta 2007. (2006). “Blockbuster Inc. ” Microsoft® Encarta® 2007 [CD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation. Movie Gallery. Business Description.

Retrieved June 29, 2008, from http://www. moviegallery. com/company/about. aspx. Press Releases. Blockbuster Inc. Company Profile. Retrieved June 29, 2008, from http://www. b2i. us/profiles/investors/ResLibrary. asp? BzID=553&ResLibraryID=6807&GoToPage=5&Category=27. Wright Investor Service. Hastings Entertainment, Inc. – Company Profile Snapshot. Retrieved June 29, 2008, from http://wrightreports. ecnext. com/coms2/reportdesc_COMPANY_418365102. Yahoo Finance. Blockbuster, Inc. Retrieved June 29, 2008, from http://finance. yahoo. com/q/pr? s=BBI.

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