Understanding Kiosk Requirements

Kiosks are becoming more and more common, hundreds of thousands of new units are being implemented each year. They are showing up in a variety of retail, hospitality, healthcare and other environments. However, they are also increasingly complex, offering a range of applications, displays, multimedia capabilities and integration options. Company’s can still face difficult decisions about kiosk design, components, placement and integration they require, even when they have clear goals for what they want their kiosks to do.

There isn’t one kiosk configuration that will suit all applications. However, there are practices that will help guide you to finding the design and deployment to maximize customer convenience and value.

The Fundamentals
Reliability and ease of use are essential for any kiosk application. If kiosks don’t serve your customers consistently and conveniently, they won’t deliver the required benefits regardless of how they are used or the goals for implementing them. Kiosks also need to be easy for the company to integrate and support. If keeping kiosks reliable requires extensive hands-on staff support, programs will struggle to meet service, satisfaction and sales goals.

According to a post-implementation analysis of 260 companies, firms that don’t track how their kiosks are used and don’t have processes in place to quickly respond to problems had the least success in improving customer satisfaction, conversion rates and other key metrics.

There are several things to take into consideration regarding how your kiosk can be optimized to fit seamlessly into your business. Some of the things to take into consideration include:

Self Checkout
Ease of integration is key for self-checkout kiosks, which must interact with POS systems and peripheral devices such as barcode scanners and scales.

Another key component to consider is the receipt printer. Printers with large media capacities provide less downtime because receipt media needs to be reloaded less often. The printer should also have design features that guard against jamming when a customer pulls on the receipt before it is finished being printing.

Most customers who want to avoid the longer lines in lanes staffed by a cashier will chose a self checkout kiosk. For this reason application designs and peripherals that support fast transaction processing are crucial.

Coupons and Promotions
Kiosks that are intended to provide coupons or other promotions to customers should be positioned near the front of the store to maximize use. A reader for loyalty cards can provide a way to capture demographic information about the customer using it. This information can be used to offer coupons and promotions tailored to the customer’s interests and preferences.

Kiosks can be implemented to support loyalty programs and should be conveniently placed to encourage customers to use them every time they visit the store. Kiosks can also be installed to draw more customers into low-traffic areas.

Product Information
The placement is important for product information kiosks, they should be placed near the specific product, so customers can easily access the product after learning about it on the kiosk.

Providing a video and other multimedia descriptors on the kiosk may be beneficial, depending on the complexity of the product line or the likelihood for confusion with other products. If product descriptions, how-to tips, project materials checklists and other content is fairly standard, the information can be held in the memory and the kiosk may not need to be networked.

Ordering
Clarity is essential for kiosks that allow ordering, both on the screen and on the printed order ticket or receipt. The screen and printer are important peripherals, so high-quality models that are suited for the information they are providing should be selected. Security support is another important consideration if the ordering kiosk will also accept payment, especially if the device will be networked wirelessly.

Gift Cards
Self-serve gift card kiosks almost always accept payment, so system security and receipt printing are essential requirements. Gift card kiosks can be placed in less congested areas, because they offer a lot of flexibility. Another option is for you to install them near customer service counters. This will divert customers who might otherwise stand in line to speak with a store associate. Customer satisfaction will be improved when you reduce the amount of time they spend in line. There is a clear benefit to offering kiosks for the relatively simple transaction of purchasing gift cards.

Registry
Registry kiosks can do more than show the user a list of registered items. Applications can be set to print a ticket directing the user to the exact location in the store where the item is stocked. Registry kiosks give customers the ability to review the information without involving a store associate. However, if you want your staff to interact with registry shoppers, the kiosk can send a message that will direct an associate to the kiosk. Registry kiosks should be networked, to ensure the registry is updated when items are selected or ordered, to prevent duplicate purchases.

Equally as important as software, the hardware components are the second step in making a decision on a customized kiosk.

Housings
As previously noted, the ease of use is essential for the successful kiosk program. The kiosk housing and appearance impact the ease of use because they help form the customer’s first impression. A customer’s attitude will be shaped based on whether a kiosk looks inviting or intimidating, convenient or complex, or rough versus refined. The kiosk should also fit easily into the space available without blocking aisles or interfering with displays.

Displays
The display needs to match the environment and the application needs. Kiosks that are installed outdoors need displays that can self-adjust for lighting conditions and remain readable in bright sunlight. A kiosk with high-end audio and video capabilities for promotional applications would be overkill for ordering at an autoparts counter. Touchscreens raise the concern for durability. Touchscreens are designed to be operated by fingertips. However, some customers could use keys, pens and other hard objects, which could scratch the surface.

Printers
Another major variable for kiosk reliability is the printer. The printer sometimes also has a surprising effect on the user experience. For example, some printers automatically cut the receipt or other printed paper, while others require the user to tear it off. Tearing increases the chances that the paper will jam, which can result in downtime until the jam is serviced by an employee. The printer directly impacts the customer experience, so it isn’t a component to take lightly while designing your kiosk.

Security
Kiosk design must incorporate both physical and data security. The components and supplies of a kiosk can be secured with locking cabinets and the design of the kiosk itself. The security of the data can be more of a challenge. Kiosks that accept payments or collect customer information must meet Payment Card Industry (PCI) standards, as well as other requirements.

Kiosks have been proven to be highly effective for improving satisfaction, creating competitive uniqueness, and reducing operating costs, but these benefits are not equally shared. To have a chance at success depends on a kiosks reliability and ease of use.

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