The shopping experience has indefinitely changed. Consumers are no longer expecting to enter a store and simply leave; instead, today, they anticipate an experiential shopping experience. To help meet these new consumer demands, retailers are turning to interactive kiosks.
What is an Interactive Kiosk?
An interactive kiosk is a hardware device integrated with specific software to help improve the customer experience. In other words, it is a device that provides opportunities for visitors to engage with digital signage via touch or voice so that they can find specific information related to a business. These kiosks rely on self-service technology, allowing users to access information, products, and services during their interaction.
According to Statista, global sales from interactive kiosks are expected to double between 2021 and 2028, demonstrating the market's enormous potential and how owning these kiosks will soon be a requirement for every successful business.
How An Interactive Kiosk Benefits its Customers in the Retail Setting
The rise in demand for interactive kiosks comes as no surprise. Since their introduction into the retail sector, they have continuously improved the customer journey by offering the following benefits:
- Permits customers to order from a screen. While shopping, long queues can often be a deterrent to finalizing a sale. Customers may choose to put their items back and buy online, or simply go to a different store. Interactive kiosks, however, offer a digital solution. They allow customers to complete the transaction in the store without requiring the assistance of a store clerk.
- Offers customers a more comprehensive selection of products and services. In scenarios where stock is limited, interactive kiosks fill the gap. Customers can shop in a store, leveraging the ability to feel and try on their products. However, when an item is out of stock, instead of facing disappointment, customers can simply go to the closest interactive kiosk and order their item online.
- Promotes customer engagement. Interactive kiosks have a stopping power – the ability of a device to make a customer literally stop and engage. Furthermore, interactive kiosks often integrate barcode scanning and e-commerce options. Research has identified that this engagement improves the customer experience as well as customer loyalty.
- Provides in-store entertainment. "As the attention span of consumers continues to decline, they need more and more stimulation to keep them attracted to in-store items. Otherwise, they become distracted by the technology in their hands – their cell phones. In-store interactive retail displays provide such stimulation. Similar to promoting customer engagement, these displays help people remain committed to purchasing while in the store, especially when they are queuing for checkout."
- Streamlines the order process. Overall, interactive kiosks streamline the process for customers. By integrating an omnichannel approach, more customer demands are met, and customers feel their time has been well serviced.
How An Interactive Kiosk Benefits Employees in the Retail Setting
The benefits of interactive kiosks go far beyond customers and vastly improve the work experience for employers and employees as well. Here are a few examples.
- Streamlines processes and improves business efficiencies. Activities that retail staff generally completed can now be conducted by interactive kiosks, allowing front-of-house staff to focus on alternative tasks. For example, interactive kiosks can offer information to visitors, reducing questions asked to staff, or they can take orders and check out customers, reducing the number of staff required in a designated area.
- Increases employee satisfaction. Feeling overwhelmed by customer interactions is a common challenge for retail employees. During peak hours, employees often feel their time commitment to guest management exceeds the allotted time, causing them to fall behind on other tasks. Interactive kiosks take the pressure off employees, overall improving their ability to manage their workload.
- Improves real-time communications. Interactive signage offers retailers the ability to communicate with staff and visitors in real-time. If there is an announcement in a location or a change to a menu, the business can quickly update all personnel and reduce associated frustrations.
- Offers data to improve sales. Interactive kiosks collect pertinent data to help businesses improve operations and increase sales. For example, businesses can learn the most common questions asked by visitors, the most popular dish on a menu, or the product that is in highest demand. They can then use this data to modify their business operations to better meet their customer needs. As a result, businesses experience growth in returns.
Technology Improving Interactive Kiosks
Numerous technological solutions have been deployed to improve the functionality of interactive kiosks. Ombori Grid, a company built on the idea of combining the physical and digital world, has designed unique solutions that have proven to be beneficial to dozens of retailers around the globe.
Each solution can help retailers meet their goals, including increasing revenues from cross-selling and up-selling, helping customers navigate physical and online stores, creating a unified shopping experience in-store, and providing enriched customer service. Here are some of the Ombori solutions offered today:
- Web Kiosk allows businesses to put their website on a touch screen in-store so that visitors can browse information. Retailers can select to offer their complete site or focus on a specific part of the site. Web kiosk also includes built-in navigation buttons for optimum touch-screen usability. Businesses can select to add optional input devices, including a barcode or RFID reader to help customers scan a product to learn more about it; users can save this information to their phone using a QR code. Additionally, a camera can detect the gender of the user, and the AI can adjust marketed content accordingly.
- Endless Aisle allows businesses to showcase items or options that are not available in-store so that customers can place an online order for delivery or pickup. Customers can view the retailer's entire product range on the interactive kiosk, even items that are out of stock. The kiosk also includes a payment function that allows customers to pay directly at the terminal using a credit card or mobile device.
- Guided Selling allows customers to browse for and purchase products based on their individual preferences and purchase history. The software asks questions to personalize the shopping experience and helps customers find the right products for them. For example, if a customer is buying a car and using a guided selling kiosk, they could be prompted to answer questions about performance, cargo capacity, fuel economy, cost, or luxury. Customers will be offered suggestions, and they can download product information to their mobile via a QR code. This software also permits customers to pay at the kiosk.
Ombori also offers retailers the option to combine numerous solutions to enhance their operations further. A prominent example can be found in Dufry Airport, which leverages Ombori Store Assistance. The Azure-powered chatbot [located at Dufry Airport] guides customers through the purchasing process. Shoppers tap an on-screen button for the product category they are interested in, such as skincare or fragrance, and the chatbot asks the shopper [if] they would like to use the AI-powered shopping advisor to pick the perfect product.
In some cases, retailers select to leverage a creative use of an interactive kiosk by relying on solutions such as the Ombori Grid Selfie Mirror. This mirror was initially launched in H&M in New York and is now available to additional Ombori customers. The selfie mirror creates a unique souvenir for visitors. The voice-controlled smart mirror can take photos of visitors and create branded images that they can download and share. This solution can surprise and delight customers, all while increasing brand awareness.
Interactive Kiosks: Changing the Future of the Retail Sector
There often is no one solution that is better than the other; instead, an interactive kiosk allows businesses to creatively identify which solutions can be integrated to help meet the goals outlined in their business model. Furthermore, companies like Ombori Grid are developing new, innovative solutions as more retailers approach them with new demands. The future of interactive kiosks is prosperous, and businesses leveraging them today are preparing for the changes we foresee in the future.