E Commerce: Disrupting The Film Industry?
By Frankie Wallace.
Brick-and-mortar stores have been threatened by e-commerce for some time now, and that’s edged into the film industry as well. The more consumers can access online, the less need there is to leave the house and go to an actual location, like a mall, grocery store, or movie theater. This replacement of real-life interactions has been happening since the 1990s when chat rooms and instant messaging became a way for people to connect without having to speak on the phone or meet in person. E-commerce is undoubtedly changing the movie industry and shopping habits as a whole, but what is there to learn from these changes? Let’s explore.
The Rise of Netflix and the Decline of the Video Store
Before Netflix killed the movie theater, they did a number on brick-and-mortar video stores. Remember Blockbuster? Early Friday evenings used to be spent searching through the aisles for the perfect movie to watch along with a bowl of popcorn. Watching a movie at home was an event, one that was taken seriously and not rushed into. You could roam the aisles of Blockbuster for an hour, carefully weighing your decisions.
When Netflix came around, that browsing could be done without even leaving the house. Plus, instead of spending $5 per movie, you could spend little more than that a month and have access to hundreds of movies and TV shows. While that access seems like Netflix’s biggest perk, it’s not; customisation is. What Netflix really got right was how it put the perfect movie in front of the user based on their preferences. Blockbuster didn’t do that – you had to find a movie and take a chance on whether or not you’d like it.
MoviePass’ Subscription Model Was Great for Customers, Not for Moviemakers
At first, MoviePass seemed like a great deal for everyone involved. Moviegoers could spend a fraction of the cost on tickets, theaters got people in the door (and to the insanely overpriced snack stand) and box offices still got paid. However, there was a concern from movie industry professionals that the increased and cheap access to movies would undervalue the actual content. In other words, if every MoviePass holder could go to a movie basically for free, they’d see as many as possible, whether or not they wanted to or even if they read negative reviews. How do you track the success of a movie if that many people see it simply because they can?
Movie Industry Changes Mean E-Commerce Managers are In-Demand
While film industry traditionalists may not like the changes they’re seeing, it’s opened the door for tech-savvy workers. Notably, there are now film company roles for e-commerce managers. This allows film companies to adapt to the modern e-commerce market and see success online. According to Job Hero, “The Ecommerce Manager will be primarily responsible for overseeing and managing the ecommerce department of a company with a significant online presence. They will handle decision-making for the website, social media accounts, and online advertising.” Ultimately, their job is to create online experiences that are innovative and competitive.
Here’s What Else E-Commerce Gets Right
Love it or hate it, the e-commerce world, movies and beyond, is doing a lot right. Companies that want to stay relevant and competitive would do themselves a favor by taking note:
- Convenience: E-commerce companies, MoviePass included, realize that customers want convenience and that they’re sometimes willing to pay a bit more or learn how to use a new app to get it. Amazon’s Prime subscription is a great example of this – the annual rate is high, but the convenience of getting free, fast shipping throughout the year is worth it to shoppers. Even Netflix, which has odd release schedules, is appealing to movie fans who’d rather pick from their selection than head out to a theater.
- Customization: E-commerce has a brilliant way of reaching the masses while still catering to the individual. Advanced algorithms show people what they’ll like best, even if the breadth of what’s offered is much greater. Customer tracking is a cornerstone of this, allowing companies to gain insight into who their customers are and how they behave so that they can design a user-centered product and experience.
- Social Proof: E-commerce relies heavily on social proof via user reviews. For example, Amazon shoppers often refer to the user reviews and Q&A section before making a purchase decision. Brands can also learn a lot from the feedback they receive and improve their offerings based on what customers want.
Traditional movie companies can check a lot of these boxes with some sort of rewards program and mobile app. For example, Regal’s rewards program requires a user to log in, which means they’re gathering information. The app can see which tickets you’ve purchased and the snacks you’ve bought. To personalize, Regal could use this information to make movie suggestions and offer custom discounts on the foods you buy the most.
While some e-commerce companies, like MoviePass, start strong and then unravel soon after, you can’t fault them for trying something new and taking a risk – and many companies are learning from their mistakes and revising their plans to avoid those pitfalls. For example, Sinemia allows moviegoers to choose any showtime they want, which was a major blind spot after one of MoviePass’ many updates. Without risk, there can’t be change and evolution, and instead of fighting the shifts, moviemakers may want to think about how they themselves can change to keep up with what audiences now expect.
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