Up The Stairs

A couple of years ago, I began to notice big red boxes appearing inside and outside grocery stores in Ann Arbor. I ignored them for a while, which wasn't easy because they are big and red, but eventually I gave Redbox a try. My first experience wasn't great. Using a kiosk interface to browse the DVD selection while strangers peered over my shoulder was unnerving.

Still, I endured the kiosk search a few more times before stumbling upon the website and realizing I could search and pay online, then pick up my movie at the kiosk with a swipe of my credit card. This multi-channel epiphany led to a much better experience, and I'm now a Redbox fan.

But how many folks never get past the kiosk? How do we make it easier for people to learn about multi-channel possibilities? The idea of smoothing the steps into a gentle slope sounds good, but I'm not sure it's entirely practical.

Up Stairs

#ubicompsketchbook on Twitter and Flickr

Perhaps we need ways of catapulting users to the next level. Or, even better, maybe we should copy foursquare and turn it into a game. I can imagine Redbox offering free rentals to users who reach the next level. Steps might include your first web/kiosk or mobile/kiosk combo or the first time you return a DVD in a different city than the one in which you rented it. What do you think? How would you get users up the stairs?

Peter, thank you for the information. RedBox is one of the services almost unknown in Japan. I noticed the customer ratings of their iPhone application are not so good:


Did you give it a try for yourself?

Hi Noriyo,

I mostly use the web/kiosk combo. I can find/rent a movie at home or at work, and then pick up the movie while at the grocery store.

I have used the mobile app while out running errands to locate a nearby Redbox so I could drop off a movie. It worked fine for that. But I don't really have the need to search for and order movies via my iPhone...I might do that if I was traveling and wanted to find a movie to watch at my hotel.


thanks. Great little story and great example.
I might add that part of my research now involves public transport and we are trying to build a playful model for making co-modal transportation more appealing to everyday travelers (together with heavy doses of well-directed IA, of course), precisely along the lines of what you write above. Say, free tickets if you use bus lines so and so, discounts if you do so and so, etcetera.

Hope to be able to write about it in a couple of months.