VLOG: How Lensrentals Turned a Piece of Tape into a Video and Photography Rental Innovation

In my last Vlog I covered how we're integrating design thinking and service design methods into our production process. Lensrentals.com, and a simple piece of tape, provide a fantastic example of these principles in action. 

Let me explain. 

The Process

We rent lots of gear. We own lots of gear. There's only one thing worse than loading, and unloading gear. Shipping back rented gear. How it used to work. 

Rent Gear ---> Use Gear ---> Print off return shipping labels ---> Printer runs out of ink ---> Pray you have all of the items ---> Repackage goods ---> Look for tape ---> Can't find tape ---> Go to Fedex, and buy tape ---> Tape box and tape label to the side of box ---> Ship ---> Get notified your forgot something ---> Scream

Now, while this isn't visualized in a true Journey Map, you can see where there are opportunities for Improvement, and improve Lensrentals has. They've listened to their customers, observed their pain points, and innovated on their service offerings to make renters lives easier. And, really, the greatest innovations have come with the return experience. 

Now, the experience looks like this:

Rent Gear ---> Use Gear ---> Locate packet with return label stickers, inventory list, business card for service and support, a handy FAQ ---> Stick return labels on box ---> Pack items via inventory checklist ---> Tape box with supplied tape ---> Ship


Using the tenets of Design Thinking, and Service Design, they observed consumer behavior (vocalized online, and with customer service) that proved needing tape was a pain point for their users and a starting point for an innovation opportunity.

The Solution

The simple act of taping a box became an innovation opportunity. Other Lensrentals innovations like Amazon Prime-esque membership models, and easy extension of rental periods may be flashier, but listening to this consumer pain point allowed them to capitalize with a simple piece of tape. 

This piece of tape changed my life.

This piece of tape changed my life.

This piece of tape, and the cheeky monologue printed on its face, alleviates a large gap in the experience design of Lensrentals' service offering. Also, providing this piece of tape created another brand touch point that builds trust, and reduces the head-space for consumers when preparing equipment for returns.


However, the experience isn't complete without the clever message on the piece of tape. It's honest, funny, and transparent in a way that connects with consumers. In another Vlog I'll apply a few different Service Design tools in a simulated service design exercise so you can see exactly how powerful taking a user-centered approach to communication design and creative design can be.