updated 01:25 pm EST, Wed December 16, 2009
Blockbuster intros Direct Access shipping service
Video and game rental chain Blockbuster on Wednesday introduced a new service, Direct Access, that will allow customers to get hard to find or out-of-stock movies from Blockbuster's distribution centers if they can't find it in stores. The move lets stores check online for stock of all of the roughly 95,000 titles Blockbuster carries and will mail any movie available at Blockbuster directly to a viewer's house. In comparison, a local Blockbuster store has between 3,000 and 5,000 titles in stock.
Employees at a Blockbuster store can search the company's online database of movies, and have it mailed to the customer within three postal days. Customers don't need to be an online Blockbuster subscriber and have the option of either mailing back the DVD in an included postage paid envelope, much like other mail order movie services, or returning it to their local Blockbuster store. They can alternately exchange the mailed movie for any other title for a discounted $2 rate or $5 discounted game rental. All Direct Access rentals, whether DVD or Blu-ray, cost $4 without any added shipping charges and can be kept for seven days.
At the same time, Blockbuster is letting users log onto its website to check if the movie they want to rent is at their local participating store before leaving home.
The strategy is a bid to offset gains made by online video services, particularly Netflix. Many of these have gained in popularity at Blockbuster's expense as they have a much larger readily available catalog and also aren't dependent on retail rentals to prop up their business models.