Kiosks made their debut sometime in 1977 after a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign created a touch-screen system that offered users information to find movies, bus stops, extracurricular activities, and courses.
In 1985, the retail industry grabbed hold of the kiosk concept and used a series of interactive kiosks after the shoe retailer Florsheim Shoe Company started using them in various locations. Over 600 kiosks shared images and videos of shoes to consumers that were not available in the actual stores.
Today, digital kiosks in retail locations can’t be counted. They seem to be everywhere, providing a different service for users. No matter the location, one thing is clear: kiosk technology is changing the way customers engage with brands.
By offering more options and a wider range of goods, both the consumer and the merchant benefit. Kiosks that can offer products on the go by bringing the store to the consumer are making their debut in airports, malls, and other areas where large amounts of people gather.
By allowing on-the-go kiosks to act as virtual salesmen, merchants are seeing an increase in sales as well as an increase in brandy loyalty. In a 2009 survey offered by the Self-Service Kiosk Association, consumers said the top three reasons for choosing to use a kiosk over a cash register was convenience, speed, and working directly with technology.
Another study, conducted by Transparency Market Research in 2015 showed that the global kiosk market was expected to top $1.2 billion dollars.
If you’re a retailer and you’re considering a kiosk, perhaps that number will move you to a place where you might consider a kiosk as part of your business plan. If not, here are seven other ways retail kiosks are making a difference in sales:
1) To Keep Shoppers In the Store
For the most part, product kiosks like Best Buy or Proactiv that dispense instant gratification are in areas away from the original retail space. For example, one might find a Best Buy kiosk in a busy mall or outside the store so consumers can still pick up a set of ear buds or a DVD at 2a.m.
If you find a kiosk within a retail store, it’s likely there to keep customers inside longer and shopping. At least that’s what Neiman Marcus wanted to do when they invested in a phone-charging kiosk for one of their stores.
Per the corporate communications center for the retailer, customers average 50 minutes inside the store while their phones are charging.
It’s a genius marketing maneuver.
Consumers may need just 15 minutes to charge their phones. But when you put a phone charging station in the middle of a store where smart marketing is also in place, that 15 minutes can turn into to 50 minutes. This is the magical place where more sales are made.
2) To Avoid the Line
When we need to make a copy of a house key or some other important key, we typically go to the hardware store and wait in line for the nice man behind the counter to get etch our key for us. But he’s got to cut three other keys for the guy in front of you, first.
Waiting is no fun.
So to avoid the line, you leave the hardware store and go down the road to the 7-Eleven where the KeyMe Kiosk is waiting. Within minutes your house key is cut and ready to go. While you’re there, you decide to have a copy of your fab car key made, too.
You are so happy with the time you saved that you decide to get a slushy and celebrate the day.
KeyMe Kiosks are just one way consumers can avoid the line. By the end of 2017, these convenient kiosks will be in more than 3,500 stores nationwide. That’s 3,500 less lines people have to stand in.
3) To Help Them Find Their Way
Kiosks have been used for some time now to help shoppers and other patrons find their way around stores or large shopping malls. But direction is not the only function a wayfinding kiosk can offer.
Other in-store kiosks can share more information on products, as well as encourage customers to explore new departments and products in the store. When they’re not exploring new products, they can take a peek at items that need to be liquidated and are therefore on special.
4) To Keep Every Item in Stock
Can you imagine walking into a store that went on and on and on and on? With a digital signage kiosk, your store can go on and on.
A kiosk that offers merchandise not yet available in stores or items that are out of stock can provide the consumer with the endless-aisle experience. It can also help build out the size of a smaller brick and mortar store by offering what can’t fit on the floor.
Kohl’s uses in-store kiosks to create the endless aisle experience.
“Our stores may not carry a wide assortment of baby gear beyond apparel, such as car seats, cribs, and strollers, but we have a much wider assortment available online,” said Janet Schalk CIO of Kohl’s. “Our shoppers can purchase those items via kiosks while they are in the store.”
(Quote Courtesy of: Kiosk Marketplace Whitepaper, Kiosks in Retail 101)
The kiosks also allow retailers to manage inventory on regional and national levels, which helps the stores turn inventory over much quicker with seasonal products or products that are fast going out of style.
5) To Complete Applications
Retailers that place kiosks in their stores when they’re hiring are more likely to get quality applications in a timely manner.
Prospective employees can use a secure digital kiosk to apply for openings or sign electronic documents, all while keeping the information they enter into the system private.
For stores that like to encourage customers to apply for store credit cards, retailers can use a kiosk that gives them the opportunity to complete the credit card application right then and there.
Customers can even choose to refill the amount on a gift card from the store or pay their credit card bill on the spot. Who said paying bills wasn’t easy?
6) To Survey Customers
The only way to determine if your retail store is delivering what your customers need is to ask them. The best and most direct way to do this is through a survey.
Kiosks that act as a gift registry can couple this service with a brief survey at the end. Three to four questions regarding a specific item or even the gift registry service may be all you need.
Some retailers will include the survey questions at the checkout where the credit card kiosk is located.
When a business can learn more about their customer, they can create promotions and sales that can further build customer loyalty and continue to bring them back time and time again.
7) To Reduce Overhead
The beautiful thing about a kiosk is that they can work when an employee can’t. With labor costs on the rise, retailers are finding ways to tackle simple tasks digitally:
A kiosk centrally located in a retail store can:
– Answer basic customer service questions.
– Price check an item when the customer scans it.
– Offer sales and promotions.
– Help customers to locate a product.
– Encourage customers to apply for a credit card or loyalty card.
– Allow customers the option to self-checkout.
Airports and hotels use kiosks to reduce overhead by offering self check-in options. Customers don’t have to wait in line and can move on instead to catch their plane or go sit by the pool at their hotel.
In order for any kiosk marketing strategy to work, retailers need to investigate incentives and reasons behind directing a customer to a kiosk. For example, if a kiosk is put in place that acts as an endless-aisle, yet store employees don’t direct consumers to it, the marketing strategy may have been in vain.
By centrally locating the kiosks and prompting employees to encourage consumers to explore them, the kiosks become a digital extension of the store.
Even if retailers determine an endless-aisle isn’t an option that fits their current model, using a kiosk that offers other interaction, like a dock to charge phones or a terminal to submit employee applications, merchants can still find ways to keep customers in the store and shopping longer.
Wayfinding kiosks that can walk consumers through the store virtually can benefit merchants in more ways than one. Not only can they make more sales faster, but they can reduce customer wait time, which is always something consumers are happy to experience.
Kiosks centrally located or positioned by doors can act as virtual customer service representatives, answering basic questions and offering discounts and promotions.
With the global kiosk market at just over 1.2 billion dollars, it’s safe to say that retailers are discovering how to further create customer loyalty while generating brand awareness at the same time.
How will you implement a kiosk in your retail store? Which option do you see the most of with your competitors?