Friday, May 11, 2007

Shipping Notifications: Gamefly vs. Netflix

I've been a Gamefly subscriber for a good while now and I've been generally pleased with the user experience. However, recently joining Netflix demonstrated that Gamefly could easily improve their shipping notifications.

Here is what Gamefly shipping notification looks like in my inbox:

Here is what Netflix shipping notification looks like in my inbox:

Notice that Gamefly tells me what has shipped while Netflix goes one step further and tells me what day to expect it. I think it's nontrivial that Netflix uses days of the week in the e-mail subject line notification. I'm going to receive it within one week for sure (usually within days). Most people know what day it is instead of what date it is.

Supplying a date in the subject line would needlessly increase the cognitive load for customers who just want to know "What am I getting and when will I get it?" I know today is Friday and if it's arriving Tuesday, with little effort I know that's 4 days from now. Additionally, knowing it comes on Tuesday includes connotations that may mean something to me.

For example, Tuesday is a weekday/workday; it's far from the weekend; I have weekly presentations to give on Wednesdays; and so on. All this information would help me to realize I won't get to watch it until Thursday or Friday and decide to let my neighbor borrow it.

Instead, if I see it is arriving on the 15th, I have to recall today is the 11th, the difference is 4 days, 4 days from today is Tuesday, and then the rest would be the same. Maybe a minor amount of friction but I can always appreciate less cognitive friction.

Here is what the content of the Gamefly shipping notification looks like:

Here is what the content of the Netflix shipping notification looks like:

Gamefly adds a "shipped on" which is much less useful that Netflix's "arriving on or around…" note. Kudos to Netflix for repeating that info anyway. I know that Gamefly has detailed records of how quickly different customers receive their games. So does Netflix. I'm glad Netflix puts that information to use and I'm hoping that Gamefly is working on it.