Retail Tech in Focus | Kiosks Increasingly Delivering Consistent and Positive Customer Journeys

Retail Tech in Focus | Kiosks Increasingly Delivering Consistent and Positive Customer Journeys

Retail kiosks have been around for over two decades but have never quite found their place and latterly have played a secondary role to smartphones and apps. However, in the aftermath of Covid-19 and the increased acceptance by people to use digital interfaces in-store along with the chronic labour shortage the devices have been enjoying something of a renaissance.   They represent a move by retailers and hospitality companies to use their store assets, and human resources, more intelligently in order to enrich the customer experience. The introduction of such digital devices can help deliver incredibly broad functionality – from enhancing the customer journey by integrating with the Point-of-Sale (PoS) to deliver information such as stock availability and product recommendations, to acting as self-service checkouts (SCO), and also as order & pay terminals in food establishments.   There is much evidence to support the increased embrace of kiosks in physical outlets with Shake Shack generating more than 75% of sales from its kiosks, and the digital channels, where the technology is available, while US-based BurgerFi is finding each of its kiosks captures on average 133 orders per day, which equates to around three out of every four transactions.   The devices certainly appear to make great commercial sense, according to a survey by Vita Mojo, which found 61% of people would spend more via kiosks, with this rising to an impressive 80% for Gen Z and 90% for Millennials. This has absolutely been the experience at food chain Leon – where the introduction of the devices throughout its estate has been transformational – with average order values increasing 12-15% and the ability to reduce staffing levels on the service counters helping dramatically reduce operational costs.   What kiosks are also able to deliver without fail is consistency of service. They successfully remove the human error that invariably creeps in when we are talking about dealing with people on the shopfloor. This problem has been exacerbated by the serious employee shortages in the retail and hospitality industries that is stretching the capabilities of people and increasing the chances of customers interacting with employees who have had limited training or experience.   There is no such problem with Kiosks that are also benefiting from their vastly improved interfaces that have more intuitive capabilities – increasingly enhanced by AI technology. This has very much helped drive adoption and usage, which is particularly noticeable in the SCO space where there has been a great deal of activity. In addition to being able to accept payments some SCO solutions are now able to handle additional functions such as online orders that require processing for click & collect or for delivery directly from the store.   This additional functionality is enhanced when the kiosk is connected to inventory systems, which enables the devices to provide levels of accuracy that would be tough for humans to replicate. This can encompass not only stock levels and availability but additional layers of detail such as buying options and technical specifications. This accuracy can be crucial when it comes to menus in food venues where precise ingredient details can be accessed by diners with allergies.   Implementing smart SCO technology makes commercial sense and customers increasingly expect it as a PoS option that is friction-free. It certainly represents an important part of the broad digital transformation that is taking place in-store and the momentum of demand is set to continue beyond the strong impetus provided by Covid-19 as global implementations of SCO solutions are expected to treble to over 1.1 trillion by 2025, according to research by RBR.   Where kiosks, and other in-store digital solutions, are able to leverage most value is where they are fully integrated and can each access a single view of the customer with the relevant real-time data pulled from the cloud and surfaced on each of the devices. Such capabilities take the in-store customer experience to another level and highlight how kiosks in their myriad guises can play a major role in helping define the physical environment of the future.  

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Written by Mike Dowson, Trust Systems | marketing@trustsystems.co.uk