Monday, 27 April 2009
Lovefilm no-return envelopes
Where do your customers come from? What sites refer the most paying customers? How long do they stay on the site?
What's more interesting than analysing the data, is making changes to your website and your business and seeing the effect that this has on customers. For example, does moving the "buy now" button to a different part of the screen increase conversion rates, how does a customer sign-up process affect customers completing their purchases?
These changes can mean millions of pounds of extra revenue for internet companies. Of course not all customer behaviour changes involve the website itself.
LoveFilm has recently made a change to the way its service works. It's quite a subtle change, but I have no doubt that it means extra revenue for them.
It used to be that if you received two DVDs at the same time from LoveFilm, you would also receive an extra return envelope with your DVDs, in addition to the envelope it arrives in, which you usually convert in to a return envelope. LoveFilm are desperate for you to return as many DVDs in one envelope as possible. Obviously sending two DVDs back in one envelope means that their postage costs are halved.
Fair enough. When I did happen to watch two DVDs in short succession, I would return them in the same envelope. However, like most people I usually watch them at least a few days apart. Once I've watched one, I want it sent back so I can get the next semi-surprise DVD as soon as possible.
But that doesn't help LoveFilm's bottom line.
So, recently they have stopped sending you a spare envelope as standard. This means that if Lovefilm sends you two DVDs at once, you can't necessarily just watch your DVDs and send them back as you watch them. Of course, they say you can send them back Freepost in your own envelope, but that costs me an envelope, and you can be sure that most people won't be bothered to do that.
The obvious cost saving is reduced postage costs, but I do wonder if they save more money by altering customer viewing habits. If you wait till you've watched both DVDs before sending them back then you hang on to your DVDs longer, which means less DVDs get posted out, which means less handling costs and less DVDs need to be held by Lovefilm.
What really annoys me, is that Lovefilm claim that you can still request an extra return envelope to be sent. At first it was quite easy to request an extra return envelope. My memory might be playing tricks on me but I am sure you used to just have to click a button requesting a new envelope. Now, however you have to search around the website to get any info about it, and eventually if you dig enough you will find that to get a return envelope you have to send them an email asking for one.
/edit Thanks to the comment from the helpful LoveFilm user experience bod below, I have now been shown that there is in fact still an easy link to request an extra envelope. Doh! I've clicked it so only time will tell if I receive one.
I have done this two or three times, and each time I get an email back telling me I will receive an extra return envelope with my next DVD. I have yet to receive an extra return envelope.
It's not that it hugely bothers me - I've been maxing my account out on Battlestar Galactica recently anyway! It's just irritating that Lovefilm have moved in to that phase of their success cycle when they do things that are just irritating to customers, but which probably result in higher revenues for the company. We've seen Ebay do it in spectacular style, by giving the impression that they almost want to alienate their entire customer base. It would be a shame if Lovefilm went the same way.
That said, I'd say about 1 in 4 of the DVDs I receive these days are nearly unwatchable. I'm sure it didn't use to be so bad.
and another question - if the DVD pouch doesn't mention the DVD on it, does it really matter to return it in the same pouch? I can't see any kind of chip in them...
eventually DVD postal services will die off just like visiting your local Blockbuster. We'll all be downloading all our movies (legally that is). I wonder if Lovefilm will still be around then...