Outdoor kiosks: best practices
The challenges of retail kiosks are finding the right spot and driving customers to the kiosks. However, when you make the leap to outdoor kiosks, you add a new dimension to the equation. Now you have to deal with the elements. Will your kiosk operate in wild temperature swings? Can your customers see your screen when the sun beats down upon it? You need to consider all these questions to craft an effective outdoor kiosk.
"Sun and moisture are the most common source for problems in outdoor kiosks. It is important to not only consider the heat from your components but also the heat that can build up inside due to the sun," said James Gregorie, director of digital marketing and business development, Swift-Protech LLC.
In order to deal with these issues, you have to provide the correct components.
"You have to make sure that you provide adequate heating and/or cooling pertaining to the peripherals and components based on the climate of the location of the kiosk," Meridian CEO Chris Gilder said. "You need to always consider airflow relative to the components in an outdoor unit. If there is paper in a kiosk, for instance, you want to ensure that paper is protected from humidity so that it doesn’t get hung up or bogged down."
Another factor to consider is the material you use to make the kiosk.
Gregorie suggests that you should not simply adjust an indoor kiosk to place outside, as that tends to be an unreliable solution. You should also choose your materials carefully.
"Plastic kiosks are generally a bad idea," Gregorie said. "The sun can bleach colors out of the plastic as well as dry it out which leads to cracking and breaking. A better solution is stainless or anodized aluminum. Metal is going to cost more, especially if you want creative bends and forming, but it will hold up significantly better."
Rust can be an issue with outdoor kiosks. The way Meridian deals with this issue is by sanding edge to allow the pieces to be more tightly sealed together. "Additionally, we pretreat with a special primer that is outdoor rated before the unit is painted," Gilder said. "Finally, we top coat with an outdoor-rated polyurethane UV powder coat. This process ensures our outdoor units will be guarded against rust and stand up well to most any elements."
It is also important to test your kiosk prior to deployment. Gilder said you need to test your peripherals and connectivity. Since outdoor kiosks tend to be larger, you need to choose the right space to ensure it gets a good signal. It is also important to consider security measures to prevent vandalism.
"Before implementing a kiosk project, surveillance should be considered. User abuse is a big problem with outdoor units. For example, kiosks with plastic exteriors get carved and etched with keys and pocket knives," Gregorie said.
Finally, always keep in mind the end user.
"By thinking of projects from the customer's perspective, a lot of design and installation mistakes can be avoid early on," Gregorie said. "If the intended user is not comfortable or the system does not work properly it does not matter how cool the software is, or intended to be, the end user won’t use it."
(Image via Flikr)
Bradley Cooper is a Technology Editor for DigitalSignageToday.com. His background is in information technology, advertising, and writing.www