Self-service kiosks have been providing consumers and enterprises with simple, meaningful transactions for decades. From the early days of vending machines to the innovative, interactive kiosks we have today, self-service kiosks continue to solve everyday problems quickly and efficiently. Different sizes, capabilities, and operating systems have entered the kiosk market. Along with it are; 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 need-to-know guide to self-service kiosks in 2023.
What is a self-service kiosk?
A good definition of self-service kiosks in 2022 goes something like this:
The self-service kiosk is a tool to enable a range of experiences across retail, healthcare, hospitality, and more, letting customers achieve tasks quickly, accurately, and on their own terms.
What is insightful about this definition is the inclusion of “on their own terms.” When considering what the customer wants, the data shows three main trends:
- Consumers prefer self-service: According to this study, About 73% of shoppers surveyed said they prefer retail self-service technologies, such as self-checkout, over engaging with store associates.
- Consumers want flexibility: “Hybrid shopping is the primary buying method for 27% of consumers and 36% of Gen Z” Recent research from IBM shows customers are splitting their shopping experience between in-store shopping, mobile apps, and social media. This flexibility can also translate to the in-store experience, where businesses can provide multiple ways to pay (self-checkout and traditional), check-in (assisted and self-check-in), and more.
- Consumers seek out personalization: With self-service kiosks, businesses can provide an experience personalized to each shopper based on preferences and previous purchases. Customers are expecting that personalization, 71% of consumers expect personalization according to a 2021 McKinsey Study. More than that, 76% of consumers get frustrated when companies don’t deliver personalized interactions.
Your business needs self-service in 2023
Self-service kiosks give businesses and users greater flexibility, productivity, and convenience. Consumers are demanding self-service options. In a post-pandemic world, educated consumers are looking for the most efficient way to pick up and return, make purchases, and airport transactions. Businesses also need to keep the focus on serving customers in a safe and personalized way. Kiosks can reduce face-to-face interactions with employees and be easily cleaned. Antimicrobial screen protectors prevent viruses from growing on high-touch surfaces.
Self-service kiosks can also provide users 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.
Another challenge businesses face today is the ongoing problem of labor shortages. Currently, the labor force participation rate is 62.2%. Businesses are struggling to hire and maintain enough employees to provide a good customer experience and avoid harming the bottom line. Staffing woes have made it more difficult to provide meaningful in-person experiences. Self-service kiosks provide ease of use to counteract this.
Advantage of self-service kiosks
As more businesses look to self-service kiosks in 2023 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 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 as tablet-based kiosks can.
Having a versatile kiosk system will help businesses keep up with forever-changing best practices 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 access 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, and 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 consumers and staff
Self-service kiosks improve the user experience by focusing staff on higher-value interactions with customers. Let’s look at three enterprise businesses that are reimagining experiences with self-service technology:
Quest Diagnostics was able to reimagine its patient check-in process. Reduction of time on low-value administrative tasks means that healthcare workers were able to spend more time on what is really important- their patients
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.
Locus Robotics increased productivity with integrated scanning. Since using Aila’s technology, “workers can pick 2x-3x faster with near-100% accuracy and less labor, delivering higher productivity and a better workplace,” Locus Robotics
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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