Adding to the Experience
Maximising the Potential of Self-Service Kiosks
Peter Gooding of Zebra Technologies Europe looks at the trend towards self-service deployment and how this is benefiting the retailer.
Increased sales. Improved operational efficiency. These are two immediate thoughts that come to mind when retailers are asked how self-service kiosks will benefit their business. It is no surprise, therefore, to see an increasing number of retailers across the world with immediate plans to deploy self-service kiosks in their stores. However, the potential for increased operational efficiency is not the only reason why retailers are turning to self-service. They are also beginning to recognise the improvement in customer loyalty and satisfaction that can be achieved through the use of self-service kiosks.
This trend is in stark contrast to the popular belief that customers respond best to person-to-person sales. As we become more comfortable and reliant on technology, we have grown to prefer and seek out self-service options. More and more consumers enjoy being actively involved in the sales process, whether through self-checkout counters or by using a self-service kiosk to gather more information about a product. And there are certain benefits to the non-human approach that businesses are beginning to observe and leverage.
Self-checkout kiosks give consumers the perception that checkout is quicker. Consumers like the control that they get when using a self-service kiosk. When kiosks are used for pre-ordering at a food counter they are known to improve the efficiency of the staff producing the orders but also offer a platform for increased interaction with the customer. Kiosks can also provide personalised recipe ideas, nutritional information, loyalty coupons and wine-pairing, all encouraging incremental sales.
Kiosks installed for operational efficiency, therefore, are having a perceivable knock-on effect on customer satisfaction and loyalty by improving operational experiences and offering personalised benefits.As the deployment of self-service kiosks gains in popularity, more and more retailers are experimenting with the additional benefits it can offer. Kiosks are fast gaining credence as a medium through which retailers can engage and interact with their customers. For example, Kiosks can bring the benefit of the online experience in-store through the ‘endless-aisle’ - instantly expanding the inventory choice beyond the limited space of any individual store. As early as 2000, Borders in the US introduced its ‘Title Sleuth’ kiosks. These enabled customers to find and locate one of the hundreds of thousands of books in-store but, crucially, also put them within reach of an online database of literally millions of other books, films and CDs for later delivery. This kiosk not only put the power of finding the desired items into the customer’s own hands but also lessened the likelihood of customers leaving the shop dissatisfied and defecting to an online competitor.
Additionally, kiosks can be optimised to provide an improved brand experience for the consumer through the use of engaging visual displays, audio and branding Brands such as Best Buy and Rosetta Stone have successfully reinforced their brand messaging by using bold branded colour schemes, video displays and integrated printers to create a personalised interactive experience. So while efficiency and functionality may be the initial motivating factors stimulating the majority of kiosk purchases, the positive impact of clear branding should not be overlooked.
As technology continues to evolve, the future of the self-service sector is bright. In a recent trend report, Planet Retail has predicted that self-service will be a key area for major investment amongst retailers over the next five years. We are now seeing more and more instances of double-sided and colour printing capabilities, transactional kiosks and the advent of interactive 3D display and RFID checkout. All of these developments can be used to create increasingly innovative brand and in-store experiences that are capable of revolutionising the way that we shop today. UK retailer Marks & Spencer uses RFID tags at item level for its clothing range. RFID enables improved management of stock levels and ensures the right product mix is on display.
Will we soon see the day when we walk into a clothing retailer, try on a suit and walk out wearing it, only having to waving our contactless payment card over the self service RFID kiosk as we leave? The capability is out there.
Thursday, April 14, 2011