Retail kiosks can offer benefits for both the customer and the merchant seeking to grow, providing everything from wayfinding and credit card applications to gift card vending and upselling suggestions.
Kiosks offering self-service options can help retailers enjoy more efficient operations and healthier profits — and allow customers to avoid the frustration of waiting in line for assistance.
Benefits for the retailer
A retail kiosk can be programmed with a tremendous amount of product and inventory data in order to serve as a "virtual salesperson," helping customers with wayfinding, providing inventory status, suggesting upsell items and even completing orders.
And, when the kiosk is not being engaged by a customer, the screen can display promotions, branding messages and other information aimed at driving sales.
Retail kiosks also allow retailers to expand their footprint beyond the confines of the store. Large national retailers have begun deploying retail kiosks in public locations such as airport terminals, where they serve as yet another customer touch point.
Not only does this retail strategy provide another place to do business, but it also helps maintains top-of-mind awareness if your customers are able to interface with your brand even when they are not in-store.
With kiosks handling basic customer service and sales tasks, retailers can reduce the number of floor staff, reducing overhead expenses. With labor costs on the rise retail kiosks represent an up-front investment with minimal ongoing expense.
Retail kiosks can also provide support for sales teams and contribute to increased commissions. With kiosks available to manage simple customer service tasks, commissioned staff can dedicate more time and energy to achieving sales incentives and increasing revenues for the store.
In addition to wayfinding, product lookup and checkout, merchants are using retail kiosks to handle ancillary functions such as administering job and credit applications, selling gift cards, managing wedding and gift registries, and other tasks.
Because retail kiosks are highly customizable, each deployment can be tailored to the specifications of the retailer and store location, ensuring maximum responsiveness to the retailer's business model and customer demographics.
What about the Customers?
Perhaps the most compelling argument for retail kiosks is their ability to reduce customer wait times, which research has repeatedly shown to have a direct effect on the customer's opinion of a retail establishment.
One study found that long waiting lines will lead nearly 50 percent of customers to conclude that the business is run poorly, and prompt more than 50 percent of consumers to take their business elsewhere. On the other hand, 87 percent of retail shoppers say they would be happy to use a kiosk if it meant less time waiting in line.
As customers become more technologically savvy, they express greater interest in using self-service technologies for a purchasing transaction. Studies have shown that 71 percent of consumers age 18–34 actually prefer to use self-service checkouts when the choice is available. Providing these customers with the choice of a self-service option enhances not only their experience, but also that of remaining customers who enjoy shorter wait times at the traditional checkout.
/ Frank Olea is the CEO of Olea Kiosks Inc. Frank has been designing and manufacturing kiosk solutions for almost 20 years and has held numerous kiosk industry Board of Director positions.