This article is part of a larger series on Retail Management.
A kiosk is a digital display or small structure that businesses place in high-traffic areas to provide information or offer self-service options, often incorporating an interactive display screen. In today’s fast-paced environment, kiosks offer a great opportunity to improve store functions and customer experience. Throughout this article, we will look at the different types of kiosks, how they can improve your business, and how real-life companies are implementing kiosks into their business operations.
Types of Kiosks
Back in the day, kiosks used to be limited to the digital directories you find in malls and big-box stores. Today, however, there are many more types of kiosks that you can choose from based on the utility you want them to bring to your business. They all offer something unique, and in general, there are two buckets that they fall into: interactive or non-interactive.
Interactive kiosks are ones that customers can engage with and are not static. Many business types use interactive kiosks, including retailers, restaurants, service businesses, and destinations like malls and airports. Interactive kiosks can help customers with wayfinding and navigation, self-service ordering or check-in, making purchases, or even providing internet access.
As we mentioned earlier, this type is often what comes to mind when people think of a kiosk. Wayfinding kiosks help customers find their way through your space and include directories, maps, and directional displays.
Did you know?
More than half (55%) of shoppers say they are likely to use a shopping map to help them make efficient shopping trips.
Whereas wayfinding kiosks used to be static, today you typically find ones with a touch-screen feature that shoppers can use to search or explore your map. Wayfinding kiosks are most often found in malls and big box stores where customers are at risk of getting lost, losing their orientation in your space, or not being able to find what they are searching for without assistance.
Another popular type of interactive kiosk is the self-service kiosk. Customers can use this to perform shopping activities themselves, without having to recruit or wait on the assistance of a store associate. This is increasingly preferable among customers as it cuts down on wait times and gives customers control over their shopping experience. It can even help to boost your sales.
In fact, according to a study from The Insight Partners, the revenue from self-service kiosks is growing quickly year over year and is projected to hit $14 billion in 2022, up from under $10 billion in 2017.
Self-service kiosks are found in a variety of industries, including restaurants, hotels, groceries, and convenience stores.
The next type of interactive kiosk we will look at is shoppable kiosks or kiosks that customers can use to browse merchandise and make purchases. In general, there are two types of shoppable kiosks: vending and product catalog kiosks.
Internet kiosks are digital displays that offer internet access to the public and are designed to improve customer experience, not drive sales. These interactive kiosks are typically found in airports, hotel lobbies, apartment offices, or other hospitality businesses. Aside from a monitor, mouse, and keyboard, internet kiosks will sometimes include credit card swipe and bill pay capabilities.
In addition to interactive kiosks, there are non-interactive kiosks that businesses use to convey information or advertise goods and services. They are a great way to see how the public might react to a product or idea and can also be used to keep important information easily accessible to improve shoppers’ experiences.
The first type of non-interactive kiosk is the informational kiosk. It is a free-standing digital display that businesses use to show important information about store operations or new products. While informational kiosks can be used as a merchandising element in stores, you can also place them in your surrounding neighborhood or beyond and are a great opportunity to increase your brand’s reach.
Did you know?
Customers like to have complete information. A 2020 study from Salesforce found that 76% of customers expect consistent interactions across departments, yet 54% say it generally feels like sales, service, and marketing teams don’t share information. Fill this gap with informational kiosks!
Informational kiosks are used across industries, from restaurants to retail to hospitality. There are truly no parameters to what information is appropriate for informational kiosks, making them adaptable to any business.
One of the most common types of non-interactive kiosks that you will come across is the product kiosk, which is specifically used to showcase a new product. These are great for creating hype around a new item, giving customers information, and gleaning customer reactions to your ideas.
Product kiosks are typically used in retail businesses; however, you will also see restaurants and hospitality businesses using them to advertise their new products and services.
The final kind of non-interactive kiosk we will look at is the promotional kiosk—which, as you might have guessed from its name, is used to display information about your promotions or events. Unlike product and information kiosks, promotional kiosks should be located either in your store or in the immediate vicinity. If it is able to draw people’s attention and pique their interest in your sale, the last thing you want is to create too much inertia by placing too much distance between the event and the ad.
Benefits of Kiosks
Now that we have reviewed all the types of kiosks, it’s time to answer the question of why you might use them in the first place. They are an investment, after all, whether you are buying the kiosk or just renting its ad space. So, let’s take a look at why they are worth it.
Improve Store Operations
Kiosks can fill a number of roles in your store that will help improve its operation and make things easier for you. Whether they are speeding customers through the ordering process, sharing important information, or helping customers find their way through your space, kiosks offer an automated solution to improve store operations.
Cut Down on Customer Frustrations
With the modern customer placing more and more emphasis on convenience, incorporating kiosks into your store will help empower shoppers and improve their experience by
- Giving them self-service options for things like ordering food, checking into their stay, or printing services so that they can do things on their own time and avoid waiting time
- Keeping important information at their fingertips
- Empowering them to find things in their store without having to search for assistance
- Putting internet services at their disposal
Fill Staffing Holes
As we all know, staffing has become an increasingly daunting challenge for businesses in the post-COVID-19 world. In fact, according to an April 2021 survey by the National Restaurant Association, 84% of operators said their staffing was lower than the industry standard. Not only that, but the Square 2022 Future of Restaurants Report found that for restaurants reporting labor shortages, 21% of their positions are unfilled.
While you could continue down the traditional hiring path, incorporating kiosks into your business might actually be the wisest route. In 2021, 36% of restaurant businesses chose to upgrade their tech during the hiring desert, and 62% of restaurants said that automation would fill critical gaps in managing their establishments and helping customers.
Interactive kiosks can be used in place of staff. Since you don’t have to pay a kiosk a salary, you’ll save a good amount of money. Also, since kiosks can provide your customers with answers to many of their buying concerns, you can focus your labor costs on sales professionals to further increase your total sales volume. Moreover, opting for a kiosk instead of a traditional retail space will keep your rent and overhead costs down while you still benefit from increased visibility.
Since kiosks are often placed at strategic locations beyond your physical storefront, you’ll be able to reach more potential customers. This helps expand your customer base, which ultimately increases your company’s ability to sell more products.
Kiosk Examples by Industry
Kiosks are growing in popularity across industries, demonstrating just how versatile and important they are to modern marketing. Here we will take a look at four examples of kiosk usage—in retail, restaurant, healthcare, and hospitality—to see how varying industries are implementing different kinds of kiosks into their operations.
Modern customers are increasingly demanding more interactive features and greater convenience from the shopping experiences. This is why more and more companies are incorporating kiosk technology into their operations. With all the different kinds of kiosks on the market, you are sure to find one that can enhance your business and keep you competitive in today’s ever-evolving market.
You might also be interested in…
Our guide for starting a retail business