Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Circle K Stores Inc. and Info Touch Technologies Corp. jointly announced in a news release a new multi-year agreement to continue to grow the Zaplink program not only in the number of locations, but also in terms of the services provided.
Zaplink is Circle K’s branded self-service kiosk that gives c-store patrons the ability to pay wireless, cable, utility and other bills in cash, purchase prepaid products and services, transfer money, browse the Internet and perform a variety of other functions.
Circle K and Info Touch have developed a recurring revenue model, driven primarily by customer-funded transaction fees mainly from bill-pay applications. In July 2005, Circle K customers engaged in more than 75,000 Zaplink transactions. Info Touch is working to add new billers, pre-paid products and other financial services to serve more of Circle K’s customers’ needs.
Find it at this link.
They then talk about a program in Denton, TX put in place to handle the extra services they needed to provide as the city expanded: "The Denton program involved two kiosks, the first of which was placed in the police department and collects payments via credit card only. The second, placed in the mall, accepts cash and checks in addition to credit cards, and has generated much more activity. "We will be replacing the police department device with one that accepts cash and check, and we expect our collections from that device to increase correspondingly," [Denton director of technology services Alex] Pettit said.
"Flexibility of payment method is particularly important in a town like Denton, which is home to two universities, Texas Woman’s University and the University of North Texas. "It is not uncommon for two (roommates) to go to the kiosk, one pay half of their (utility) bill with cash and the other write a check for the other half," he said."
The rest of the article is pretty interesting, and shows how a simple application like bill payment services can be provided as a public service via an interactive kiosk.
"According to ACOM vice president Gregory T. Church, patient registration in the kiosk module is set up with personal information (name, address, age, gender, etc.) by front-office staff over the phone or on the first visit, after which all information is input directly by the patient through check-boxes that progress automatically through multiple screens in a tree-like structure. Initiating the session by touching "Start," the patient first answers the question, "What brings you to our office?" The response indicates the reason for the visit, which automatically places him/her in the appropriate session sequence: Initial, Daily or Final."
"'The kiosk module is designed to save time and labor for the front office staff, to expedite the patient visit, and also to establish a high level of patient participation in the treatment process,' Church said. 'Doctors have told us that this module will be extremely useful in streamlining both the professional and business sides of their practices, and we’re proud to make it a cornerstone of our latest version of RAPID.'"
The rest of the article can be found here, at KioskMarketplace.
Friday, August 26, 2005
"The electronic pharmacy kiosks will enable patients to scan their prescriptions and consult with the company's pharmacist or technician through a live interactive video conference. Following this consultation, patients will have the flexibility to schedule a pickup of their pharmaceuticals at any one of the company's 77 Familymeds and Arrow Pharmacy locations or to have their medication mailed or delivered to their home. The kiosks will be installed on medical campuses that DrugMax does not currently serve as well as in locations where the company has a pharmacy, but in a separate building."
"According to David Siegel, general manager of Duane Reade's kiosk business, 'DrugMax has taken the lead among all regional pharmacy chains in licensing and implementing the pharmacy kiosk machines to improve customer service and patient compliance. They should certainly be applauded. Pharmacy kiosk technology is where ATMs were 20 years ago. You used to need someone to help you to use an ATM and there are now over one million ATMs in operation. Based on our initial, real results, we believe the pharmacy kiosk will have a similar adoption rate.'"
"The dynamics of the retailing ecosystem have changed. It's not surprising that traditional retail point-of-sale has evolved beyond checkout. Adding self-service touch points throughout the store can help (stores) hold the line on payroll while improving customer convenience," said Paula Rosenblum, director of retail research at Aberdeen Group in a recent report entitled, "The Empowered Point of Service." "Planned technology deployments should help retailers achieve their strategies to create more customer-centric environments inside and outside the store. These technologies promise to maintain consistency in retailers' stated objectives of improving customer convenience and enhancing the customer experience."
"Kmart stands out in the retail market as a technology leader — employing a cutting edge-kiosk technology that improves customer service, while at the same time reducing store operating costs," said William Holmes, president of ddn. "We are very pleased to be partnering with Kmart on this exciting installation. Penn Station is a hub of busy commuters — a perfect location for consumers to take full advantage of this timesaving, error-avoiding technology. As more retailers begin to realize the numerous benefits of the APM technology, we are sure to see a major shift in the way refill prescriptions are dispensed."
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
The company will also be experimenting with in-store download kiosks, allowing customers to sample tracks and download them on the spot. The kiosk rollout is slated to begin next month."
You can read his blurb about it over here on his blog.
Some NARM panelists pointed to CD kiosks as a possible solution. These kiosks allow shoppers to buy and download music directly on to portable devices compatible with Windows Media Player 10. They also touted the potential of these kiosks to promote small-label indie artists and major-label acts alike, and spoke excitedly about offering customers live performances on disc the day after a concert has taken place, locally, regionally or nationally.
The kiosks could also offer favorite tracks of employees' and compilations of songs by popular artists, in addition to promoting songs by similar artists and offering songs before their official release. In addition, the kiosks can allow listeners to sample music before buying and downloading it.
But the panelists seemed unconcerned that these kiosks do not allow shoppers to download music onto iPods, which many consumers clearly favor for playing recorded music.
Nor did any panelists adequately address the fact that the kiosks are unlikely to attract young music fans, even while admitting that many young listeners prefer to acquire music from the Internet, legally or not, from the comfort of their homes or dorm rooms.
The rest of the article is here. Clearly they are going to need some help on the matter :)
"One characteristic that makes solid-state memory such a powerful tool is that, unlike RAM, it does not require a power source in order to maintain data — unplug it, and the data remains in place. This means that hard drives built upon a solid-state storage mechanism can replace traditional "spinning wheel" drives."
"Hard drives are big, they can be noisy, and they generate a lot of heat — all things that are best avoided, and all things solved by using solid-state storage instead of a rotating drive."
Two things to think about when deploying devices out into the field.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Hand Held says the 8560 allows retailers to "raise the customer shopping experience to new levels" by providing access to information, including on-screen feedback, quickly and efficiently. It uses the company's fourth generation Adaptus Imaging Technology to accurately scan a wide range of barcodes. The unit's 4.45 x 3.3 inch QVGA color LCD includes a resistive touchscreen with a field replaceable screen protector, which enables reliable self-service operation.
You can see a complete description here.
"USA Technologies announced in a news release that its e-Port product is now compatible with ScanPlus, ARAMARK's proprietary stored-value card. The e-Port/ScanPlus integration now enables college students to purchase snacks or beverages from vending machines using their student ID card in addition to commercial debit and credit cards and cash.
"ARAMARK has installed the e-Port cashless technology in the vending program at the University of North Carolina Greensboro and the system will soon be introduced to Wake Forest University and other ARAMARK-managed campuses nationwide."
You can read the rest of the article here.
"According to [ATM company] Tranax chief operating officer Dr. Hansup Kwon, Tranax is committed both to developing a range of self-service terminals based on convergence and to developing a complete line of self-service products and solutions for them.
"'In exploring new markets with a view toward creating and delivering new products,' Kwon said, 'it wasn’t a matter of simply converging any and all functionality found on a kiosk with an ATM. We looked at the characteristics of an ATM — security, reliability, transaction-based, use of an EPP, cash dispensing etc. — and from there it was a matter of determining which self-service applications currently found on kiosks and other machines would be complimentary to the functionality an ATM provides, thereby creating a terminal that delivers true value.'
"In the case of ATM and kiosk convergence, it’s apparent that one plus one does not equal two, at least from a cost perspective. For a ticketing kiosk to provide ATM functionality, for example, many ATM components (the CPU, bill dispenser, card reader, printer and cash vault, etc.) would need to be duplicated. But conversely, for an ATM to provide ticketing functionality, ideally, it would be as simple as adding a few more components to the ATM, doubling its functionality for a fractional cost increase.
"Practically, converting ATMs to kiosk functionality has been done in a couple of ways: starting from scratch, or adding the necessary components in a box or sidecar attached to the ATM. The second option increases the width of the machine and provides a secure location to store the extra bits needed to complete the conversion from ATM to kiosk. As a case in point, the U.S. Postal Service’s Automated Postal Center kiosk was, at its genesis, an ATM."
You can read the rest of the article here.
Tuesday, August 16, 2005
The demand for wireless Internet access has exploded over the past couple of years and PayKiosks allows entrepreneurial individuals the opportunity to profit from this new technology. "Where it once was optional, nearly every laptop that is currently manufactured is Wi-Fi enabled. Huge companies such as Intel, Microsoft and T-Mobile have invested billions into this technology. Our products allow our distributors to own and profit from managing their own network of wireless Internet terminals" said Scott McInnes, President of PayKiosks Internet Terminals.
You can read the full story here.
"[M]ost of us who are comfortable with [self-service] technology seem to like it. People almost seem to prefer the automatic check-out lines at the grocery stores, for instance. And it can be more convenient to print out your own airline ticket at home or at the airport kiosk instead of waiting in long lines to deal with a human.
"Using our time differently (instead of waiting in line or on the phone for a customer rep) can save us time and save the company money.
"Companies even offer incentives for self-service. Many airlines and hotels give extra miles or points for online do-it-yourself booking. The incentive is there because if we do the work it lowers company labor costs, and miles and points are cheap compared to salaries and pension plans. Yet, if we prefer it, we can pick up the phone and talk to a person, assuming we can get through to one. It's freedom of choice and everybody can win."
Read the rest of the story here.
"A well-established kiosk application is the price look-up unit, usually mounted on a pole or end-cap. According to Nick Daddabbo, senior product manager for Skaneateles Falls, N.Y.-based Hand Held Products, there is no reason these devices cannot do much more than merely dispense prices – he said other great applications include inventory look-up, store mapping and wayfinding, loyalty card tracking, on-screen marketing and cross-selling.
"The opportunity to put multiple types of key buying information at the customer’s fingertips is really what makes these applications ‘killer,’" he said.
"Hand Held’s Image Kiosk unit does all of these things, and also can be modified to dispense custom coupons with the addition of a small form-factor printer."
You can read the rest of the article here.
Friday, August 12, 2005
"Customers at the Express Mart in Arnold, Mo., can pay for items using their fingertips now that the convenience store is equipped with BioPay. The store is the first in the state to offer this type of technology, the company reported.
"Express Mart LLC, a division of Home Service Oil Company, is a 10-store chain in the Jefferson County, Mo., area. They are branded Citgo and Phillips 66.
"BioPay uses a person's unique finger image and their chosen BioPay number (usually a phone number) to authorize a secured debit direct from their checking account. The one-time enrollment can be completed at any merchant that offers the biometric payment service and the entire process takes less than two minutes. Once enrolled, the customer can purchase in seconds with their finger at any BioPay payment location across the United States. The BioPay service is free to the consumer."
It's a pretty interesting concept, but I wonder how many people will be willing to trust an unknown third party with a database of their biometric information.
Read the rest of the article here.
"PaymentOne Corporation today announced a significant expansion of its Digital Payment Platform with the availability of the PaymentOne Broadband Content Network (BCN) and Co-Marketing Platform (CMP).
"Together, the new Broadband Content Network and Co-Marketing Platform enable digital merchants and broadband operators to rapidly market, bundle, distribute and bill content and premium services through the broadband operator's channel.
"Operators and Content Providers Must Collaborate To Capture $15 Billion Market
"With the market of over 30 million current broadband consumers projected to more than double, the aggregate market for digital content and services will surpass $15 billion by 2008. Broadband users are twice as likely as dial-up users to purchase online content in multiple categories including digital music, audio, video, photos, electronic information, education and games.
"According to Yankee Group: 'To truly differentiate, operators will look to content, applications and other digital media that will enable operators to sell incremental new services through existing data pipes. Those operators that master this new service paradigm will financially outperform their peers...'"
Read the rest of the press release here.
The 1000 Series of touchmonitors are designed to provide a single-source selection of entry-level LCD monitors, aimed at the fast-changing retail POS and hospitality markets. While offered at a lower price-point, they still provide reliable, durable operation and come from the worldwide leader in touchmonitors, Elo TouchSystems. The 1515L features a choice of touch technologies: AccuTouch five-wire resistive technology, the most widely used for retail applications and proven to survive splashing liquids, food and grease; or IntelliTouch pure glass surface wave technology, for the ultimate in optical quality for dry retail and hospitality applications.
- Economical and reliable
- Up to 1024 x 768 resolution at 75 Hz
- Available with AccuTouch Five-Wire Resistive Technology (activated with fingernails, gloves, credit cards, or any stylus) or, for superior image quality, IntelliTouch Surface Wave Technology (activated with finger only)
- Sealed touchscreen
- Dual serial/USB interface
- Removable base and VESA mounting option
- Mounting holes on base bottom for tabletop security
- Controls on the side rather than the front, plus lockout function for public use
- Digital on-screen display (OSD)
- Internal power supply
- Worldwide agency approvals
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
"Picture Marketing products and services allow corporations to collect and capture consumer information and photos at any type of event, delivering individually targeted marketing messages that feature the consumer's photo and a follow-up direct mailpiece. Picture Marketing tracks relevant consumer activity and provides extensive data and survey results so that corporations can directly calculate a return on their marketing investment."
Not a terribly interesting release, but you can read the rest of it here if you want to.
"Starting today, Intellifit will roll out its award-winning Intellifit System(TM) in six select malls owned and operated by the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust (PREIT), General Growth Properties and Westfield Corporation, whose managed properties represent 30 percent of all malls in the US. The first mall to receive an Intellifit Kiosk is Willow Grove Park, just north of Philadelphia. Additional Intellifit Systems will be installed at the Garden State Plaza (Paramus, NJ); Citrus Park Town Center (Tampa); Arcadia Center (Los Angeles); Tyson's Galleria (McLean, VA); and Northbrook Court (Chicago) in the coming weeks.
"'By using Intellifit kiosks in malls, more shoppers will be able to quickly and conveniently find the brands, styles and sizes of clothes that fit them best across all participating apparel retailers,' said Ed Gribbin, president of Intellifit. 'In about 30 seconds, Intellifit can virtually eliminate the hassle of dragging armfuls of clothes into fitting rooms because shoppers generally don't know what sizes will fit them best in the hundreds of different brands they see. Intellifit will not only benefit shoppers, it will improve the overall mall shopping experience, benefiting the participating retailers, brands, and mall operators as well.'
"When shoppers step fully clothed into Intellifit's cylindrical glass booth, the system quickly and accurately captures their body measurements in about 10 seconds. The Intellifit System analyzes the measurements and compares them to the garment sizing data provided by participating retailers. Consumers can then use Intellifit's intuitive Find What Fits touch-screen apparel search engine to choose the types of garments for which they wish to shop, and the Intellifit System prints out the brands, sizes and styles of clothing that would fit them best."This is an extremely cool concept. I wonder if it works? You can read the rest of the spin here :)
Self-service shopping has gone mainstream in supermarkets, supercenters and home improvement centers as self-checkout systems will generate transactions worth $161 billion in 2005, according to a new study from IHL Consulting Group.
The study also forecasts that the value of these transactions will increase to over $450 billion by 2008 as many more systems are deployed in the next few years.
"Consumers continue to use the systems in increasing numbers," said Greg Buzek, president of IHL Consulting Group, an analyst firm and consultancy that serves retailers and retail technology vendors. "Once a technology only found in supermarkets in the South and Midwest, self-checkout is now available in retailers like Wal-Mart, Kroger, Home Depot and Lowe's nationwide. This has not only expanded the number of lanes in the market but also increased the dollar amount of each transaction."
The "2005 North American Retail Self-Checkout Study," available today, reports on consumer acceptance and use of self-checkout systems. Price of the report is $1,995.
Key questions researched included the following:
1. What do consumers like or dislike about self-checkout systems?
2. How often do consumers use self-checkout when it's available?
3. Are their differences based on age, gender or region in accepting the technology?
4. Are consumers more or less likely to shop at retailers that have self-checkout?
5. Is there a union effect? Are consumers in states with strong cashier unions less likely to accept self-checkout or is it simply a factor of the unionized stores?
6. Are consumers interested in a handheld or cart-based scan and bag technology?You can check out the rest of the release (including a link to purchase the report) here.
"Yahoo! wanted to place kiosks that would allow for Internet access at neighborhood bus stops, where the public could get information about local restaurants, businesses and more. But, following the Yahoo! principle of striving to be fun — and anything but ordinary — the kiosks needed to be innovative and well branded.
"So [Sean Florio, senior buzz marketing manager at Yahoo!] turned to Sandra Nix, founder of Mequon, Wis.-based D2 Sales LLC, to design an Internet-connected bus stop kiosk. D2 Sales, whose slogan is 'Definitely Outside the Box,' has designed kiosks that are just that — outside the typical boxy kiosk style.
"As the world of self service continues to expand, more companies will face similar decisions, with factors such as time, money and branding all weighing heavily. Despite the monetary and time critical advantages of purchasing a standard design, there are some compelling reasons for investing in a design that’s unique to your company.
"The goal of any deployment endeavor is to increase customer service and satisfaction without adding another layer of work for the current staff. Therefore, it’s important to consider an array of factors when choosing whether to go with a standard unit or a custom-designed one."
This is really an article on the possibilities available to custom kiosk manufacturers, and the novel manufacturing methods used to make self-service devices that integrate into the surrounding environment while presenting a strong brand message and good usability characteristics. I suggest you read the rest of the article.
"Fishbowl rolled out the Guest Loyalty program to the 540+ corporate and franchise locations of Ponderosa, Bonanza, Steak and Ale, and Bennigan’s over a 2-year period.
"At 64 Steak and Ale locations, enrollment kiosks enable diners to enroll in the Preferred Guest List. After sign up, members receive the Guest Loyalty program e-mails including welcome messages, special promotions, and member discounts."
Read the complete story here.
Friday, August 05, 2005
"Wood County Electric Cooperative customers can now pre-purchase their electricity using cash or a credit card at seven kiosks located throughout the nine counties they serve. The customers enrolled in WCEC's SMARTPOWER program need only their cash or credit card and their WCEC provided SmartCard. The display unit provides customers with information that shows how much credit is left on the meter in addition to a history of the power they have consumed.
"'Pre-pay energy solutions are the wave of the future,' said Debbie Robinson, chief execuitve officer and general manager of Wood County Electric Cooperative. 'A big part of the program is all about helping our member-customers better control their electricity consumption and budgeting.'"
The rest of the article is here.
"At a Stop & Shop supermarket here, one of 550 test sites around the country, customers can get DVDs of the most popular movies -- from Clint Eastwood's hit ''Million Dollar Baby" to ''National Treasure" with Nicolas Cage -- from a pair of cylinder-shaped vending machines at the front of the store.
"The machines belong to Redbox, a company launched by McDonald's Corp. that executives hope could change the video rental industry almost as much as the Golden Arches changed Americans' eating habits.
"For storefront video rental companies like giant Blockbuster Inc., Redbox is the latest competitive headache spawned by the decline of bulky videotape cassettes and the rise of lightweight DVDs. The success of the unheralded start-up Netflix Inc. showed that consumers would rent movies on the Internet and have them delivered by mail. Now Redbox, based in Oak Brook, Ill., will challenge video rental stores by making the process as simple and as cheap as using a Coke machine.
"'It's really being seen as another way to make McDonald's convenient and relevant to customers,' said Greg Waring, Redbox senior director of marketing.
"Redbox charges a dollar a day, plus local sales tax. In Connecticut, it comes to $1.06. There's no need to fill out a registration form before renting. All the user needs is a valid credit card. A renter swipes the card and picks the movie using a touch-screen video monitor. The DVD emerges from a slot, packed in a plastic case."
Read the rest of the article here.
"'We are offering much more than just a kiosk. We are offering retailers a media-on-demand system with coordinated Web sites that will allow retailers to reach customers in stores and at home,' said Bob French, Mix & Burn's president.
"The Music Tablet sends digital songs directly to Windows Media-compliant portable players in a retail environment. The availability of major-label content will drive the success of media-on-demand solutions for the music retailer, eliminating the headaches of physical inventory and forecasting, therefore increasing revenues.
"'This is an easy way for traditional music retailers to get on the digital highway,' said Ezra Davidson, EVP of business development, SyncCast. 'Our partners, like Mix & Burn, use our technology to provide complete turnkey solutions for retailers -- these are tremendous new revenue opportunities for retailers,' added Davidson."
You can find the complete PR here.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
"According to Dave Barker, principal strategist and member of strategic design and brand integrity for Diebold, part of the answer lies in keeping sizes and positioning of elements as consistent across models as possible.
"For instance, a blind person can expect the modules to be in the same place on all ATMs, regardless of the model or whether it’s a drive-up or through-the-wall," he said.
"Barker also pointed out that disabilities come in many shapes and sizes, so it is important to get feedback from the people you are actually trying to serve."
An interesting read, the rest of which can be found here.
"According to [NetShift founder Nigel] Seed, the partners never paid for the software, although they continue to use it. Further, they began developing their own competitive software even though the contract with NetShift prohibited it.
"Seed’s description of what happened was a bit more colorful, as you can imagine, and not suitable for print. But basically, according to Seed, the partners just decided not to pay.
Without the big contract, NetShift didn’t have many options. Seed went back to his majority investor, petroleum company Royal Dutch Shell, to explain the situation and seek additional funds to stabilize the company. But Shell had had their fill after investing 5 million pounds and 2 million pounds, respectively, in earlier rounds of financing. Shell had also been personally involved in the contract negotiations that resulted in the current situation and knew the score.
"With less lofty goals and a reduced staff, NS Systems Limited is focused on converting customers from NetShift and closing the deals that were in the pipeline. Seed feels that if NS Systems can get 50 percent to 60 percent of the old customers the company will be profitable. Three months or so from now they will start looking for new customers.
"This time things will be different, according to Seed, "No outside capital will be needed, the company will grow slowly and through ongoing business.'"
Read the rest of the amazing article here.