Self-service kiosks have been around for quite some time. From the early days of vending machines to the intuitive, interactive kiosks we see today, self-service kiosks continue to empower customers and staff with greater choice and flexibility.
With so many self-service kiosk options available, it’s clear that the trend of self-service continues to expand across industries and use cases. Different sizes, capabilities, and operating systems choices have entered the market and with it, varied user experiences, technology platforms, and the need for more seamless interactions.
To help navigate the modern landscape of self-service kiosk technology, we’ve put together this guide covering what you need to know about self-service kiosks in 2021, with the goal of allowing you and your business to stay flexible and ready for whatever comes next.
Self-service kiosk- defined:
A good definition of self-service kiosks goes something like this:
The self-service kiosk is an interactive terminal that facilitates an action or displays a piece of information and automates, eliminates, or streamlines wait or cost by giving customers the control to get things done on their own terms.
What is insightful about this definition over some of the others is the inclusion of “on their own terms.” When considering what customers want, the data show us three main trends:
- Customers want self-service
- Customers expect personalized and seamless experiences
- Customers want to be left alone
Considering how consumer behavior has expanded into other industries like healthcare, it’s clear that the choices enterprises make regarding their self-service kiosk technology, will have broader implications for years to come.
Why your business needs self-service kiosks in 2021
Beyond consumer demands for more self-service options, the Covid-19 pandemic has left all businesses with a renewed focus on serving customers in a safe and personalized way. From self-service pickups and returns to patient check-in and cashless checkout, self-service kiosks can reliably service customers while maintaining social distancing. They can also be easily cleaned and have antimicrobial screen protectors where touch flows are necessary.
Self-service kiosks can also provide customers with a touchless experience. With technology such as image-based scanning, patrons simply walk up to the kiosk with their mobile phones to initiate a personalized experience such as check-in, membership loyalty, price checking, and cashless checkout.
Self-service kiosks give businesses and customers greater flexibility, productivity, and convenience.
The advantage of tablet-based self-service kiosks
As more businesses look to self-service kiosks to drive productivity and sales, today’s powerful consumer tablets provide a significant advantage over yesterday’s rigid, bulky and expensive legacy devices.
One of the first places to start when considering tablet-based kiosks is the operating system. iOS/ iPadOS, Windows, and Android are the three major players. Yet, if performance, reliability, and security are important factors for your business, iOS comes out on top.
Size does matter
For decades, there was really only one type of self-service kiosk on the market that was made to perform a single purpose – think vending machines. These large and bulky single-purpose kiosks were (and still are) significantly more expensive than the multi-purpose, tablet-based self-service kiosk alternatives.
Aside from the cost, yesterday’s large and bulky kiosks also cannot accommodate the quickly changing planograms of today’s stores, or be easily relocated or reused in another location or store like tablet-based kiosks can. These self-service kiosks are mounted onto a variety of mounting options to fit different spaces, giving enterprises the ability to quickly innovate their in-store experience and adapt to changes. This often means the difference between thriving or surviving.
Many enterprise organizations today are undergoing a digital transformation that includes the underlying technology architecture across their brick-and-mortar stores. With the average POS system at tier-one retailers being 15 years old, it’s no wonder why many are turning to iPad-based self-service kiosks as a viable replacement.
Unlike legacy systems, iPad-based self-service kiosks like Aila’s Interactive Kiosk offer enterprises the ability to light up different self-service experiences across their brick and mortar locations — all on one unified technology platform. Unlike other tablet-based kiosks that are simply mounted on a stand, Aila’s Interactive Kiosk is a hardware platform with a set of tightly integrated capabilities including power management, integrated optics, and firmware that all work together to transform iPads into enterprise-ready kiosks. These capabilities give enterprises unlimited flexibility. For example:
- Image-based scanning: with integrated scanning technology, customers and employees can scan over 45 different barcode symbologies including 1D/2D barcodes, IDs, OCR, and more. From scanning products to people, image-based scanning makes reliable data capture done in fractions of a second.
- Power management: The integrated USB-C Power Hub that’s also featured in Aila’s Interactive Kiosk manages power for the kiosk, the iPad, and accessories such as payment terminals, printers are more. Simply add or remove the peripherals to create unique self-service experiences all across your physical locations- on one platform.
- Customizations: The ability to further customize your self-service kiosk is also key to creating engaging and effective experiences for both customers and employees. Having a wide range of durable mounting options, best-in-class accessories, and branding and color options to choose from gives added flexibility to your self-service kiosks to complement your brand rather than detract from it.
Self-Service kiosks help customers and staff
Enterprises have figured out that self-service kiosks improve customer experience by focusing staff on higher-value interactions with customers. This is especially true in healthcare settings. Rather than hand patients a paper clipboard at check-in, self-service patient kiosks can streamline the check-in process by automating check-in in seconds. It also frees staff to focus on what truly matters- their patients.
Fast food restaurants like McDonald’s have also adopted self-service kiosks to allow customers to order exactly what they want in just a few clicks. While the “order taker” is now in front of the counter in a customer satisfaction role instead. The combination of speed, convenience, and great customer service are now all part of the customer’s experience.
Retailers like Fabletics took advantage of in-aisle real estate and innovated on a retail mainstay—the price checker — allowing shoppers to find real-time inventory information, product details and even provide feedback, all in addition to checking prices. This boosted customer satisfaction and employee productivity.
Best practices to deploying self-service kiosks
Regardless of what type of business you operate, self-service kiosks reduce common customer pain points such as long lines, unanswered questions, or the inability to find what they are looking for. If implemented correctly, self-service kiosks will also reduce costs, prevent waste, and leverage your staff and resources more effectively.
In the case of large-scale self-service kiosk deployments, here are a few tips to making sure your business is set up for success:
- Leverage all that image-based scanning has to offer by integrating data capture into your app via an SDK that fits your programming framework
- Develop a timeline that includes lead times for shipping and staging
- Determine if you require ISVs, hardware installers, and/or peripherals
- Pilot with multiple kiosks at predefined locations
- Leverage multiple kiosks in order to provide users an intuitive understanding of where to go and drive user adoption
- Display in a highly visible area—such as near an entrance—or in a customer service area—such as service desk
- Implement the best mounting option for your space and your customer needs—table mounts are ideal for desks and counters, while floor stands are better suited for lobbies and check-in areas
- Consider lighting conditions and adjust screen brightness setting as needed
- Prepare customers and staff for the new kiosk experience before measuring engagement KPIs
- Implement a Mobile Device Management solution to protect data and keep software up-to-date remotely
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