Automating the Twilight of DVD-By-Mail

Here’s some information on Netflix’s eventually-doomed DVD-by-mail business and how they’re keeping it going by making it more efficient using automation:

About 3,400 discs zip through the rental return machine each hour, five times as many as when teams of Netflix employees used to process the discs by hand. Called the Amazing Arm by engineers here, the machine symbolizes the way Netflix has managed to maintain a profitable physical DVD operation even as it transforms itself into a global streaming service.

[…] To hold on to those [DVD] customers – and the profits they bring – Netflix continues to deploy innovative technologies that help trim costs as well as improve customer service.

[…] Here at the Fremont hub, Netflix used to employ about 100 people to handle the returning, sorting and shipping of the DVDs. Today, about 25 employees work through the night, largely assisting the machines.

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