Self Service Kiosks are a fantastic advancement of technology and have made everyday activities a whole lot easier and simpler to do.
The advantages of kiosks to a customer include consistent, valuable service 24 hours a day and this benefit can be particularly vital in non-staff attended outdoor environments such as car parks which are typically self-service.
Outdoor kiosks require a different approach to indoor kiosks and need to be designed specifically for outdoor deployment in public areas. Overall an outdoor kiosk needs to be suitable for operation in any urban setting and should therefore be fully weather proof, highly robust, readable and sturdy.
Here are some key points that you need to know to ensure your outdoor kiosk is a success.
The screen must be designed for high glare settings and be anti-vandal. This requires a high- luminance, transflective LCD and an ambient light sensor that automatically increases and decreases brightness when necessary, to make it easy to read in the dark or when the sun is shining. The screen should also use toughened glass and a protection bezel and needs to be suitable for use with gloved hands.
An outdoor kiosk needs to be made from a powerful material such as special anodized aluminium and special powder paint for outdoor use. It requires internal heating / ventilation system to keep the PC at optimum running temperature and a water proof shell. The kiosk and its accessories are stabilised and secured through bolts set into a purpose-set concrete base and a sophisticated locking mechanism.
Outdoor kiosks can be used for any application and are most commonly found as: Payment kiosks in car parks, Information and help kiosks in towns, Way finding kiosks is tourist and business areas and Ticketing kiosks in transport stations.
Matalan, the leading clothing and homeware retailer, has picked our self-service Xen X4 EPoS kiosks to use in its’ new pilot multi-channel retailing in-store.
The pilot is being deployed in Matalan’s new High Wycombe store and will provide an additional means for customers to purchase products and services across the entire Matalan range.
They were looking to provide in-store access to their entire product range including the extended lines that can only be found online.
By incorporating our transactional kiosks they are able to display products that cannot currently be found in-store. In turn the kiosks also accommodate customers without internet access and enhance the shopping experience of customers who come to the store.
As a result, it will allow Matalan to drive incremental revenues in-store by increasing average basket size and cross/up selling.
Ross Williams, Ecommerce Trading Manager, said: “We are always looking to improve our customer’s shopping experience, by giving in store shoppers the option to buy from our online range, they benefit by getting new products sooner, and also by being able to select from our full range.
“We recognise a shift in our customers shopping behaviour, and are looking to use technology to service customer requirements however they wish to engage with us.”
We are providing the total solution; hardware, software and a managed service with support and maintenance.
The Xen X4 kiosks feature a keyboard and 80mm receipt printers running a secure browser version of their website. Customers simply browse the website as they would at home then add their desired items to basket and proceed to check out where they can pay and arrange in-store collection or delivery.
The kiosks were launched at the store opening yesterday, on November 18th.
Protouch are the UK’s leading supplier of touch screen and kiosk systems and winner of Retail Systems Awards in 2008, 2009, 2010.
Visit us at www.protouch.co.uk.
Touch screen kiosks are truly a fantastic feature to any type of business. It not only shows that businesses are keeping up with the growing trends in technology and modern society but it also shows the innovation a company has in providing new and exciting ways for customers to shop.
As a very user friendly device touch screen kiosks allow businesses to reach out to their target market with a message. The touch screen interface allows users to navigate around the system simply by touching icons or links via the screen, with the right software interface. People don’t have to have computer experience and can easily move around the system to find products and services that they need without the assistance of staff member’s.
With touch screen kiosks they:
Encourage self service: Most customers are quite happy in dealing with their own transactions via self service systems with minimal interference from staff members. They prefer to seek a technical opinon only when it is in dire need. However there should be assistance around if someone needs it.
Easy to maintain: Touch screen kiosks are easy to install and can be moved around your business rather than stand in a static place. They are easy to look after and software can be maintained and updated regularly.
24/7 sales service:
The biggest advantage is that it provides 24/7 services for customers without the use of store assistants during any transaction.
Focused and user orientated information: You can target your kiosk to provide a certain type of information for your customers. This will help you serve your users in a well equipped manner.
Reduces staff workload: Touch screen kiosks provides information for customers so your staff can concentrate on other tasks in and around the store.
For more information visit Protouch today the leading distributor and manufacturer of touch screen equipment across Europe. They have helped a wide range of businesses across a plethora of industry sectors introduce self service kiosks and touch screen technology into their business that is tailored to their business needs and customer requirements. You can view a selection of the Protouch case studies by clicking the link.
If you are looking to consider a self service kiosk to implement into your business then there are a few things you need to consider before you go ahead and deploy it into your company.
Our current world across all industry sectors has become so much more competitive over the last few years due to the gruelling recession we have all faced which has left many companies looking for new and innovative ways to bring more customers through the door.
Over the last five years, the kiosk industry has proven to be a huge success with may companies deploying kiosk systems and seeing a relatively high ROI.
Most kiosks today are based around touch screen systems which allow consumers to interact with the system in exchange for goods, products and services. In most cases the customer is aware of what that are looking for and a good kiosk system will easily allow a user to access the information they need with ease and efficiency.
With a kiosk you can:
Guarantee 24/7 service
One of the main advantages of a kiosk system is that the machine can be left to its own devices without the need of staff members. You can deploy kiosk terminals across various locations outside of your stores etc so that you can provide a 24/7 service to customers as and when they need it.
Supporting self service
In today’s society, most people are familiar with self service kiosks and can easily operate them without the help of staff members. Most only seek technical help and support as and when they need it. With a well programmed kiosk system, you can direct your customers exactly to the information or products they wish to purchase or see, allowing them a completely fulfilled experience while shopping in your store.
Easy to maintain
Kiosk systems are often made in bulk and then designed as a bespoke item so that you can tailor it to your company needs and requirements. If your kiosk experiences technical difficulties then most kiosk suppliers will provide technical care and support as and when you need it.
Improves market reach
Kiosks work 24/7 and can therefore increase the market you reach. Kiosks are primarily designed to be deployed in public areas, so making sure they are marketed well and stand out in a room is essential to the deployment.
Reduces staff members time
Kiosks are cost effective and allow staff members to free up their time to do other tasks in and around the office. They reduce the workload and allow the option of having a a kiosk system implemented across locations outside your offices and stores, further expanding your reach, reliability and brand image to current and prospective customers.
A little over ten years ago self service check in units began popping up across retail and supermarket stores. Firstly greeted with a sense of suspicion and an arrogance to why the work shouldn’t be done by staff, self check in systems have become a beloved friend to us all and often the first port of call before a manned self check out service.
Paul Denimarck, who handles strategic marketing for the self checkout division at Honeywell Scanning and Mobility, the data connections and wireless communications solutions company has suggested that self service systems can be divided into one of two types; stationary and portable.
“Stationary self checkout platforms are located at the front of the store,” he said. “A customer using a stationary self checkout platform brings their merchandise to the lane, identifies the items they are purchasing with the scanners and tenders payment at the same location.
“Portable self checkout platforms disperse the transaction process at different points – the customer identifies individual items using a bar code scanner at the point of selection, and then the customer takes the items to a separate location to tender payment.”
There are a variety of different types of self service kiosks available and all work for different types of stores.
Modular Kiosk: Most commonly seen in a supermarket store. They are stand alone units most often deployed next to a few more kiosks at a fixed station.
Often a lay-aside area for scanned items and a larger bagging area, which is usually situated on a rotating carousel which makes the bagging process easier.
This option allows the retailer to change from a self service option to a manned kiosk instantly.
Countertop/In counter: Ideal for retailers with a single cash counter, such as convenience stores, deli’s and food areas.
This are versatile units that can be placed anywhere in a store. Smaller than self checkout terminals and are ideal for grab and go services and products.
Behind every successful company and innovative product, there are always the people who work on the back of a company’s success re-creating, copying and conning their products and customers into thinking that their business is the real deal.
And as kiosk deployment has become just as common as having a television in the home, more and more people are jumping on the bandwagon to try and con consumers and business owners about their dodgy kiosk systems.
Just last week, the city of Washington DC reached an settlement with a kiosk leasing firm that agreed to stop harassing five African American churches for payment after they latched onto a deal that proved too good to be true.
Although this is the first case the city has filed against three equipment leasing firms and two kiosk salesmen and their companies, it is alleged to be involved in a complicated and incriminating deal combining kiosks, con men and black churches. The con has spread from coast to coast with a number of churches hit by the scam including ones in California and Michigan, as well as the nations capital.
Press reports showed that Morris and Perkins embarked on their criminal business around ten years ago. Their plan was to visit African American churches around the country as executives of Urban Interfaith Network and Television Broadcasting Online (TVBO), companies based either in Washington or suburban Maryland. Morris and Perkins lived in suburban Maryland.
Mike Cox, Michigan attorney general, stated that both Morris and Perkins offered churches free kiosks that would be placed on site to provide outreach, education as well as Internet services to parishioners. In return, the kiosks would carry a advertising from a national sponsor that sought to reach the parishioners.
As an added inducement, Morris and Perkins told some of the churches that they would earn revenue of their own from the sponsor’s advertising. Churches were told that no contract was needed and all the legality stuff was simply a formality that didn’t need to be addressed but insisted that it still needed to be signed. So as pen went to paper church parishioners signed their contract without realising they had agreed to pay the full price for the kiosk.
From the contracts, Morris and Perkins contacted equipment leasing firms and asked for loans to purchase the kiosks, using the church contracts as collateral. Once they received the loans – valued at as much as $27,000 per kiosk – the pair used money to get bare bones equipment from the churches and further made initial monthly leasing payments to the equipment providers.
Peter Nickles, the city’s attorney general said, “The churches either did not get the equipment, or if they did, it wasn’t working, and if it was, the sponsorship deals never materialised.”
On another side of town, the leasing firms were led to believe they would be seeing monthly checks from the churches for the kiosk systems. There was usually little money to pay the lease fee already, and there was no sponsor for the kiosk advertising.
The deals continued to come in and leasing firms billed the churches for the kiosks with some of the contracts having full access to the churches finances.
“The firm could draw down from the bank account of the church. They charged the lease payments. In one case the firm took $60,000,” said Nickles.
After a while the churches contacted the authorities and Michigan arraigned Perkins and Morris in October 2009. Michigan plan to begin its case against them in Detroit’s 3rd Circuit Court at the end of September, a spokesperson for AG Cox said.
Perkin’s and Morris’s attorney, LaRene & Kriger of Detroit, didn’t return calls.
The case caught the attention of Nickles and California attorney general Edmund G. Brown Jr who found that after the churches learnt of the alleged scam, there was still a continual attack on the parishes by equipment leasers enforcing the terms of the leases, filing lawsuits against the churches to collect payment, interest and late fees.
These equipment leasers in April 2009 were charged with defrauding the churches. One of the companies – Balboa Capital Corp settled their case in Washington just last week, agreeing to stop collecting on the leases with several of the churches and to pay two of the churches $4,000 in total. Balboa wrote in their legal filings that it was “not complicity in the alleged scheme” and agreed to the settlement to avoid litigation costs.
Nickles said he will continue to pursue the other two lessors and as the cases go on, the churches have worthless equipment situated in their parishes that have completely gone to waste.
As soon as a customer enters your store the first thing they should expect to see is a kiosk system, which stands out, is inviting to use and can offer them additional services, valued customer service and a solution to their problem.
You need to make sure that your customer’s first impression of your kiosk is a good one and that they would happily come back and use it again.
Francie Mendelsohn, president of Summit Research Associates, a kiosk consulting firm, said, “If the software isn’t easy to use, I don’t care how gorgeous a kiosk is, (the kiosk) will ultimately prove to be a failure,” she said.
Many businesses tend to drag whatever is on their website and place it all on the kiosk failing to conduct usability tests which can result in the kiosk system failing.
Here are a few common problems that happens when it comes to the deployment of kiosks.
Some kiosk systems can be very overwhelming, particularly for first-time users. It is so important to make the kiosk as easy and simple to use as possible.
Make sure you receive user feedback when developing your kiosk, involving them in all stages. The worst thing you can do is leave customer feedback till the very end as the whole idea and kiosk system may not be in favour or the users and you will have to go back to the drawing board.
Many kiosk deployers like to have lots of colour, various screens and font sizes to add variety to the kiosk.
This is a bad move.
“Don’t completely change mid-stream what you want the user to do,” Mendelsohn said.
If you have a ‘next’ button make sure you keep it consistent and in the same place throughout so customers become familiar with the system.
With sound or without sound
If you work in a busy environment where there is a lot of sound then a kiosk with sound isn’t going to be too much of a problem. However, if you work in a quiet environment, the sound of a kiosk system can be annoying for staff and embarrassing to customer’s using it.
Sound is good in small doses, maybe a little ping here and there which can increase a kiosks usability.
Some users need to be walked through the process and sound can help them do this quicker by directing them to the next step and what will happen next.
“From a user interface standpoint, having the ability to put clicks and beeps or some other type of mechanism to validate that, yes, you have touched the button and it’s going to move onto the next activity can be very helpful,” said BobVentresca, Vice President of marketing for kiosk and digital signage provider Netkey Inc.
Website as your interface
Many people start off a kiosk by putting their website as the main page, when in reality a kiosk and a website are two very different things.
“Time and time again we have learned and our customers have learned through experience that that is not the way to do business,” Ventresca said. “That is not to say you don’t leverage your website and leverage the content and information that is on your website.”
A website is designed for people who have time to browse while a kiosk system is deployed in a retail and often very busy environment with the primary aim of allowing customer’s to quickly find product information or services that they require.
“With the advent of things like the Web services, you can still use all of the assets you have developed for your website – it just needs to be displayed in a different way, one that is most appropriate for an interactive, self service environment,” said Ventresca.
New technology can be an exciting and innovative new addition to your business if deployed in the correct manner. It is important to consider your customer throughout the whole process and ensure that the system you are developing will suit the end users needs and requirements.
It was always the case that when you visited your local doctor you have to sit and fill out a stack of forms before you get into the doctors office. And if you are only arriving with a few minutes to spare, you doctors appointment would be later than originally booked leaving you late for the rest of your day.
And if you are needing to visit several doctors over the course of one day across different medical areas, then the process could be repeated each time which can make the doctors more of a chore and stressful situation than it already is.
In most cases, the filling out of medical forms is more time consuming than anything else and far exceeds the time spent talking with a doctor or health professional.
It is also a long and drawn out process for the doctor and can prove costly, as once the patient has left the administrative staff have to sit down and log all the information into the computer which can sometimes result in incorrect information being included in the patients file.
Nowadays kiosks are quickly becoming a convenient solution to the problem.
“When people are coming in for an appointment, generally the last thing they want to do is stand in line at the window waiting to announce themselves,” said Robert Giblett, vice president, channel sales, at Aberdeen N.C based Meridian Kiosks, a kiosk solutions provider. “There is a higher level of customer satisfaction if they use a kiosk.”
If you look at the reality of running a doctors surgery and the amount of patients that come in and out every day, you can begin to weigh up how much paperwork there is to file and log in every day. This process can take up staff members time when they could be doing other important things that may often get left on the back burner until their time is freed up.
With a kiosk system, staff time dealing with administration is greatly reduced and the cost of paying extra staff to do the admin work is no longer needed.
However, a kiosk system is just about a cost effective solution.
“Way-finding is a fairly simple application, but a very popular one,” said Jared Rhoads, senior research analyst with Falls Church, Va based CSC, a global provider of technology abled business solutions and services.
“Patients walk into a big medical centre and they have no idea where to go,” Rhoads said. “Using the kiosk, they can type in the name of the person they are to see, and it will print out a map for them.”
Combine patient check-in and wayfinding kiosks and you can reduce costs, waiting time and stress for patients who already find coming to the doctors a struggle anyway.
And to make sure that the patient is who they say they are, they could be required to swipe their driving licence or special hospital ID which can cover security issues too.
When installing a kiosk system there are many things that you need to do to ensure that you get a return on investment. However, there are still many people who fail to follow basic rules when planning their kiosk project which leaves them out of pocket and with an unwanted and useful kiosk stuck in the storage cupboard.
To give you a few pin pointers here are five helpful tips to take you in the right direction
Offer customer a valuable experience
Think of why your customer would invest their time and effort into learning how to use a kiosk? Will the services you provide boost their overall customer experience and will they be able to access more information and services about the products and services you offer?
A kiosk is about improving a customer’s experience in your business. Airline check-in kiosks have been a massive success because they accommodate to the customers needs and reduce queueing time, which is what customers want. Even people who don’t use them appreciate that they reduce queue time so they are a winner all round.
Make the process fast
You may have a good looking kiosk and offer lots of advice and information for your customers but making the process long winded can be a problem and a bit of a bore for your customer. They may lose interest in what they set out to do and they won’t come back to use your kiosk again. Make sure you keep the transaction process simple. Just a few steps and a few touches of a button for them to get the answer or information they want.
Help customers out
Some customers will be slightly nervous about using kiosk systems and won’t know where to start. It is a good idea to keep staff handy to help customers who are struggling to use the kiosk. Kiosks are there to also free your staff time but it is important that you don’t desert the kiosk leaving customers to struggle.
Deploy it in the right place
The location of the kiosk has a lot to do with its success. Make sure it is seen as soon as your customers enter the store and put it in an accessible location so people can get to it as and when they please. Stuffed in a corner will do no one any favours.
Test out your kiosk
Don’t just assume that deploying the kiosk will bring you business straight away. You have to test it, trial it, improve it and make sure that your customers are happy with the kiosk system. Because you have worked on it for so long you will know it inside and out and where everything is, but your customers will not. Get a fresh approach on the kiosk system to see what your customers think of it and whether it will benefit your business and what grey areas you need to improve.
Improving your brand and your loyalty to the customer is more important than ever as today’s consumers cope with tighter budgets, busier lifestyles and – in most cases – shorter attention spans.
Kiosk systems, smart phones and social media tools have dramatically boosted brand loyalty if used correctly.
With many technology devices out there, it is hard to decide which one is the best method for you and your business.
So which communication channels work best to entice consumers and keep them coming back for more?
A recent study conducted by New York-based BuzzBack Market Research found that most North American shoppers prefer retailers that enable them to shop consistently across a multitude of channels, such as kiosks, smart phones and social media tools.
More than 80 per cent of surveygoers said that they want more control over where, when and how they interact with retailers, whether it be through Facebook, iPhones or in-store kiosks.
“Consumers are time-starved, value-driven, digitally enabled and frustrated by inconsistent shopping experiences across channels,” said Mike Webster, senior vice president and general manager of retail and hospitality business for NCR Corp, who commissioned the study. “Retailers must deliver more personalised, unified reactions whether their customers are on the Web, in the store or using their mobile device. For retailers to respond to this new ear of converged retailing, they require solutions that bring these channels together.”
The detailed study on consumer behaviours focused on how consumers use self-service, social media and other technology to shop and in response, how retailers can tap into those channels. And its overall analysis found that customer loyalty is the key focus, with consumers and their desire for retailers to offer a more consistent and seamless shopping experience.
The study also looked at the value of a consistent experience across all channels as well as the value that consumers place on personalisation, such as language, payment systems, brand preference and receipt type. In response, almost half agreed that retail shopping or restaurant ordering would be faster and more convenient if they had a more personalised experience.
The highlights of the study included;
To view the full white paper released in May 2010 at the Food Marketing Institute showcase in Las Vegas, click here.
Quick thinking companies are nowadays deploying software, linked to enterprise applications like customer data and analytics, in order to deliver timely and relevant communications across multiple points of service, based on their customer’s preferences and location.
“A new generation of consumers craves more personalisation and control over when and how they interact with retailers,” said Dusty Lutz, general manager of NCR Netkey digital signage and kiosk applications.
“Consumers are willing to reward retailers that enable a seamless, converged channel experience across Web, store or mobile channels. Retailers are responding by evaluating technology solutions that help them interact with shoppers based on their individual preferences and location to create a more compelling shopping experience.”