Consumer theft is a big issue with today's entertainment media, including Blu-ray discs.
Seeking to combat this is the Entertainment Merchants Association, Encino, Calif., which recently published threshold standards for an anti-theft measure called “benefit denial technology.” This is a process whereby video games, DVDs and Blu-ray discs are shipped to retail outlets in a non-operational state, only to be reactivated at the point of sale.
Bo Andersen, president and chief executive officer of EMA, said in a statement that the deployment of benefit denial technology would reduce shrink in video game and DVD stocks, increase open marketing of video games, reduce packaging, decrease labor costs, improve consumer access to video games and Blu-ray discs, and make the categories more attractive for additional retail channels.
Mark Fisher, vice president of membership and strategic initiatives at EMA, calls this “an opportunity for retailers and industry partners to evaluate the potential of deploying benefit denial technology on discs. This is an opportunity for discs to be merchandised live in-store, although the product wouldn't be usable until it goes through the POS transaction.”
After examining the potential rabbit trails of such a complex endeavor, the EMA brought together key retailers, home video divisions and video game publishers to work out the bugs, and dubbed it “Project Lazarus.” The group is currently developing criteria for the evaluation of proposed systems and developing a cost-benefit analysis for the technologies.
“This initiative is more important than just preventing theft; this is about increasing sales,” said Fisher. “Our plan is to talk about measuring first, then on to testing in late 2009 and finally deployment in late 2010. This will have a big impact on the industry in 2010 and going forward.”
In addition, supermarkets in the not-too-distant future may contain kiosks that go beyond the typical rental station, offering a vast array of digital media.
Called MOD (Manufactured on Demand) kiosks, these stations allow customers to burn movies, TV shows, music and books to DVDs and CDs or download them to flash drives and USB devices. The ability to burn Blu-ray discs in the future is also under discussion among major kiosk providers.
Sources report that TitleMatch, a major MOD company, was set to roll out its kiosks to Walgreens until the project was put on hold. PolarFrog Digital, a rival player in the MOD business, recently underwent a year of pilot tests in various retail settings before releasing its kiosks to select college campuses this fall.
Grocery deployment might not be too far away.