Thursday, October 27, 2005

Group suggests using shopping-cart kiosks...

... among other things. Actually, this article from the Globe and Mail discusses many of the challenges that retail grocers are facing from customers whose busy lives prevent them from making bigger purchases every visit:
"There is an opportunity to do more and reach more consumers," says Rob Persico, strategy development director at Unilever Canada Inc., whose parent commissioned the massive trip-management study.

"If you can make that whole shopping experience easier and less time consuming, they'll come back."

He offers a few suggestions.

Stores should open more express checkout lanes at the hectic predinner period, they should provide small buggies that can pack in more products than a clunky handheld grocery basket -- and forget about charging shoppers 25 cents for a cart.

They should invest in "intelligent" carts with interactive screens that direct shoppers to products and automatically scan items; they should cluster items that go together, such as mayonnaise with lettuce; and they should display prepared meals at the front of the store.

Perisco goes on to make a number of other suggestions, some of which seem more practical (to me) than others, but he shows that the retail marketing industry isn't afraid to get creative or to utilize technology when marketing to customers in-store.

It's quite a good article; I recommend you go read it.

Tesco completes kiosk trial

UK retail giant Tesco has finished a trial of interactive kiosks in its stores that allow customers to order items not stocked in-store, including electrical equipment, books and clothes. There is speculation that it will follow the initiative with a traditional paper catalogue carrying the same items.

A slightly more detailed article can be found here.

Hot Wheels kiosk lets you customize your own car

This is a pretty cool kiosk application, doubly so because I just love FAO Schwarz (which is where they are deployed at):
Designing a car with the Hot Wheels Custom Car Factory Kiosk application takes only a few minutes, and the customer receives a certificate of authenticity with the purchase. The price of a customized Hot Wheels car is approximately $20. Mattel is currently using Planar 17-inch touchscreen monitors for consumer access and server control.

After nearly a year, FAO Schwarz has sold thousands of customized Hot Wheels models using the kiosk.
Since FAO Schwarz (the real one, in Manhattan) has always been something of a technology showcase, making heavy use of motion and interactivity in their product displays and demonstrations, this seems a natural fit. And the fact that they've been selling thousands of the customized cars at what I'm sure are very healthy margins suggests that they were right on the money catering to their customer's interests and imaginations.

The complete story is here, at Kiosk Marketplace.

XBox 360 kiosks pulled from Wal-Mart, then put back in...

Gamespot has been reporting on this story for a few days ago, which basically states that Wal-Mart has pulled out all of the XBox 360 kiosks that were installed to showcase the new gaming console before the holiday spending season began. Rumors have been flying as to why they pulled the kiosks, but the party line is that the 2.4GHz wireless spectrum used by the kiosks were interfering with Wal-Mart's internal wireless system, and that is a big no-no.

After the original story came out, Wal-Mart contacted GameSpot to say that the glitch only affected Wal-Mart stores using an older inventory system. So, supposedly they plan to have "kiosks in 1,200 stores by the first week of November; by mid-November, all Wal-Mart stores should have Xbox 360 kiosks."

You can read the gamespot post here.

Show showcasing self-service seems successful

I'm a fan of alliterations, in case you couldn't tell :)

As the good folks at Kiosk Marketplace are happy to tell us:
[F]rom seminar to show floor, the emphasis was on self-service as a holistic business strategy, rather than one that focused on a specific device. Not that there weren’t plenty of kiosks — and cutting-edge ones at that — but they are increasingly seen as part of an overall strategy rather than the strategy itself.

It’s part of a trend that is taking place outside the show. The association announced at its annual meeting, held during the show at an adjoining hotel, that it would immediately change its name to The Self-Service & Kiosk Association. And Kiosk magazine, published by the show’s host company NetWorld Alliance, will change its name to Self-Service World magazine at the beginning of 2006, with its January/February issue.

Kiosks are a big part of the smart businessman’s team of players. But self-service represents his playbook, his strategy for using that team.
There is a lengthy article featuring blurbs about the sponsors and exhibitors at the show, which apparently there were quite a few of. The Self Service Show 2006 show is slated to take place in Orlando, Feb. 13-14, 2006, which means that we might actually be able to go, since a) it doesn't coincide with our busiest season (Sept - Nov), and b) it's outside of hurricane season, which seems to be getting worse every year...

The full article is here. Go check it out.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Comparing instant photo kiosks to minilabs

Raleigh TV station WRAL is carrying this article about Consumer Reports weighing the pros and cons of instant photo kiosks versus in-store minilabs. They report:
Consumer Reports tested to find out where you can get the best prints. Testers put images onto memory cards and sent them to 15 people around the country.

"They sent them out to different labs and kiosks, and then we collected the images and evaluated them for print quality here," said Kerry Allen of Consumer Reports.

Testers found the stand-alone kiosks that use Fujifilm processing were disappointing. The best results were from Fujifilm minilabs. They consistently returned very good prints. Plus, they cost the least with as little as 17 cents for a 4x6 photo.

If you're looking for good-quality digital prints from a store, Consumer Reports said try a minilab that uses Fujifilm processing. You can find them at many stores, including Costco and Wal-Mart.

Consumer Reports
said Kodak is in the midst of converting its minilabs to a process called PerfectTouch, which it has been using with its online printing service. Consumer Reports has found PerfectTouch consistently delivers very good prints.
Click here to view the full article.

MotoPhoto Debuts Digital Photo Kiosk Cafe

As Yahoo! Business reports:

At its national Fall Business Meeting, MotoPhoto® unveiled its new digital photo kiosk cafe program using Automated Photo Machines (APMs) from Lucidiom Inc. Each MotoPhoto® franchise specialty retail location now will feature at least four APMs under the brand MOTO Select Prints(TM).

The kiosk cafes feature dedicated APMs for express print ordering and additional APMs in customized furniture-settings for special consumer offers, such as making greeting cards for the holidays. MotoPhoto modified its merchandise display area to create a clean, open and pleasant environment for its new cafes. There are children entertainment areas within the cafes, and sales associates are on hand to answer any customer questions.

MotoPhoto also offers consumer education courses in its stores so that customers can improve their photos and better utilize the MOTO Select Prints(TM) APMs. The digital training course within Moto University walks customers through the photo printing options available within the kiosk cafes.

You can read the complete press release here.

Venture Development Corp to present findings of kiosk market opportunity study

BusinessWire is carrying this press release:

In an effort to provide the most up-to-date information on market opportunities for self-service and interactive kiosks, 2005 Fall Summit is pleased to welcome Venture Development Corporation (VDC). VDC will release the results of its study, "Kiosks for Self-Service and Interactive Applications: Technical and Vertical Market Analysis," which analyzes the North American and European market opportunities for self-service and interactive kiosk solutions and components on Wednesday, November 9, 2005 at 12:30 p.m. during the 2005 Fall Summit.

The 2005 Fall Summit will be held November 7-9 at the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami, Florida. The conference program will focus on solutions-oriented strategic discussions that will demonstrate the value of point-of-service kiosks and provide attendees with the opportunity to develop strategic partnerships and cross-industry collaborations to enhance customers' experiences in utilizing kiosk services.

POPAI partners with Brand Experience Lab

POPAI, the Global Association for Marketing at-Retail, and The Brand Experience Lab LLC have launched a new joint membership program to test and verify marketing technology applied in the at-retail environment. The program provides access to the latest technology being qualified by the Brand Experience Labs in New York's SoHo district, and is offered to initiate members into the world of marketing at-retail technologies. Members are exposed to the latest cutting-edge strategies and learn how to effectively integrate them into a brand campaign to deliver the branded experience to the customer at-retail. "POPAI members will be pleased with the innovative marketing approach the Brand Experience Lab brings to the evaluation of technologies for at-retail use," said Dick Blatt, president and CEO of POPAI.

Netkey founder inducted into self-service & kiosk hall of fame

As Kiosk Marketplace notes here, Netkey founder Alex Richardson (now managing director of Selling Machine Partners LLC) has been inducted into the Self-Service & Kiosk Association’s Hall of Fame for his contributions to the industry. Netkey is perhaps best known for its innovative "cover up" patent wherby an application can selectively show or hide buttons or panes in an application to customize its appearance to the user (the predecessor to the modern locked-down browser found in many kiosk software packages).

Netkey founder inducted into self-service & kiosk hall of fame

As Kiosk Marketplace notes here, Netkey founder Alex Richardson (now managing director of Selling Machine Partners LLC) has been inducted into the Self-Service & Kiosk Association’s Hall of Fame for his contributions to the industry. Netkey is perhaps best known for its innovative patent

Subway chooses Pro-Tech for ordering and payment kiosks

According to this press release on their site, Pro-Tech kiosks have been selected by Subway for use as in-store and off-site ordering and payment stations.
Subway has installed Pro-Tech Kiosks in a number of Subway stores throughout the United States and in Latin America as a way of improving the customer’s experience by reducing the time customers wait in line, allowing customers to order at their own pace and to customize their sandwich build-up (light mayo, heavy on the olives, extra cheese).

Subway store owners are placing 2-3 Kiosks directly at the front counter and are able to serve more customers in less time, especially during peak hours since the Sandwich Artists are focused on making sandwiches, wraps and salads as opposed to taking orders. The overall experience for the Subway customer and the owner is positive.

Pro-Tech provides (3) types of Self-Ordering Kiosks for Subway. The In-store version, mounted at the front counter is the most popular while the Remote version allows for Kiosks to be placed in “remote” areas, like the lobby of an office building, in a hospital, at a sports venues, such that customers can order from Subway via this “virtual’ Subway store and arrange for timed pick-up or delivery. The 3rd Kiosk option is for the Drive-Up window whereby the Kiosk accepts customers’ orders and payments at the drive-up kiosk that automatically adjusts to the height of the car window.
That second paragraph is the one to watch -- most Subway stores are self-owned franchises, so unless there is a corporate mandate requiring the use of in-store kiosks, each franchise owner would have to decide for himself whether to use the devices.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Drug-dispensing kiosks cause controversy

Over at Kiosk Marketplace, James Bickers has written a piece on one of the more controversial new uses for self-service kiosk technology, the drug-dispensing kiosk. While hailed as a timesaver by customers and some pharmacists, others are not so sure. As James notes:
[I]t makes sense to take the most basic pharmacy chores and turn them over to a self-service device. If a skilled pharmacist no longer had to spend a chunk of his day handing out high-dose Ibuprofen and other relatively common refills, he would have more time to devote to the customers who need to ask tough questions or get advice on drug interaction.

But the pharmacy kiosk has generated much controversy in its short lifespan. Pharmacists worry that the machines threaten consumer safety, and given the current shortage of trained pharmacists, they also see them as a threat to their employment.
This is quite an interesting read, and goes into some depth not only about the functionality that such kiosks offer, but also some of the key players and the challenges that they currently face. I'd certainly recommend that you go here and check it out.

Self-Service & Kiosk Show opens

The Self-Service & Kiosk show opened yesterday (Oct 17th) at the South San Francisco Convention Center. As their PR blurb says:
The two-day event not only highlights self-service technology but also features real-world kiosk demonstrations. Show attendees are pre-screened buyers and key industry decision-makers involved with the purchasing or management of self-service/interactive kiosk solutions.

Keynote speaker Mohsen Moazami, a retail executive with Cisco Systems, is expected to speak about connected commerce and how it is re-defining the shopping experience and challenging traditional retailing models.

Other speakers include Brian Slaughter of Dell Inc. and Mark Krogh of NCR Corp.

Slaughter is scheduled to head a seminar on why 2005 is the year for digital signage, how retailers can fund digital signage initiatives and what to look for in retail digital signage solutions. association changes name

The association announced that it will be changing its name to the Self-Service & Kiosk Association, effective immediately. Their new industry portal will be hosted at, and now reflects additional technologies, such as ATMs, digital signage, e-commerce and other transactional technologies designed to empower users in retail, financial, transit, hospitality and other industries. From their blurb:
Beginning at the association’s 2002 annual meeting, held at Stone Mountain, Ga., and continuing at the advisory board and executive committee meetings held in Louisville, Ky., Chicago and Las Vegas, the name of the association has been a regular topic of discussion. At the April 2005 meeting in Las Vegas, the advisory board identified renaming the association as one of its key initiatives. The board determined that the association’s annual meeting, which concluded October 18, was the proper venue to reveal the new name and associated Web site changes.

In identifying the name change as a key initiative, the advisory board recognized the importance of the industry’s evolution and the broader view of self-service taken by many of its members. Currently, areas of member interest include digital signage, vending, banking transactions, telephony/voice recognition and Web-based shopping, to name a few. The board also recognized that the kiosk is primarily considered a hardware device and, while many of the members of the association are actively deploying these devices, they are usually part of a much larger self-service initiative.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Self-Service & Kiosk Show is coming to town

According to Kiosk Marketplace:

NetWorld Alliance, which owns KioskMarketplace, has signed Source Technologies, St. Clair Interactive Communications Inc., Palm Desert National Bank and friendlyway as anchor partners for its Oct. 17-18 The Self-Service & Kiosk Show in San Francisco.

According to a news release, the company also has landed IBM, Zoom Systems and Whitech Software Solutions as show sponsors.

Here's the article. A number of core partners in the kiosk industry have signed on, and the show is expected to have a solid turnout, steadily building upon past successes. We'll know in a week how good it was :)

Monday, October 10, 2005

Customer convenience is a driving force in in-store technology

Display and Design Ideas has published a survey that finds that the use of self-service technology in-store improves the store's atmosphere and increases customer satisfaction. Here's the blurb they publish, but for the full report you'll need to get a copy of the magazine or download it from their site:
The purpose of the majority of in-store technology is customer convenience and the second most popular use is to contribute to a desired atmosphere, according to DDI's recent in-store technology industry survey. The survey, conducted online from July 19 to July 28, also asked retailers about their in-store technology budgets. For 2005, 13.2 percent respondents indicated that their retail organization's have in-store technology budgets of $3 million or more, while, on the opposite end of the spectrum, almost 20 percent indicated their organization's have budgets of less than $150,000. According to survey respondents, the top in-store technology trends include interactive kiosks (#1), digital signage (#2), and high-definition screens (#3). The biggest challenges facing in-store technology are cost (#1), maintenance (#2) and keeping up with technology/rapid obsolescence (#3), according to survey takers.
For a free copy of the entire survey, click here or check out the November issue of DDI Magazine.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Netkey named one of Connecticut's fastest-growing tech companies

There must be a spate of these awards going around, since I saw a virtually identical press release for digital signage firm PlayNetwork in Washington state. Anyway, here's the blurb:
Netkey Inc. has been named to Deloitte's prestigious Technology Fast 50 Program for Connecticut, a ranking of the 50 fastest growing technology companies in the area, according to a news release. Rankings are based on the percentage revenue growth over five years from 2000-2004.

The average increase in revenues among companies who made the Technology Fast 50 for this region was 36 percent. To qualify for the Connecticut Technology Fast 50, companies must have had operating revenues of at least $50,000 in 2000 and $1,000,000 in 2004, be headquartered in Connecticut, and be a "technology company," defined as a company that owns proprietary technology that contributes to a significant portion of the company's operating revenues; or devotes a significant proportion of revenues to the research and development of technology. Using other companies' technology in a unique way does not qualify.
For those who aren't familiar with Netkey, they make kiosk software for the Windows operating system, and are definitely one of the top players in their market. Kiosk Marketplace is carrying the rest of the press release.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Port St. Lucie tests sex offender registration kiosks

That headline sounds odd, but I challenge you to come up with another one, especially after you read this news clip from Ft. Lauderdale's Sun-Sentinel:
With a few keystrokes, residents who stroll into Port St. Lucie's two main police stations can find out if sex offenders and sexual predators live in their neighborhood.

Two computerized kiosks, allowing residents to research information about sex offenders -- including photos and some information about their offenses -- now are in the lobbies of the stations on Airoso and Rosser boulevards, Sgt. Roberto Santos said.

The kiosks cost about $3,200 each and were funded by money seized in drug cases, Santos said.

The kiosks provide access to Florida Department of Law Enforcement information and city records, allowing searchers to see an aerial view of the offender's home.

The FDLE and city sites also can be accessed with any computer connected to the Internet.

New Zealand testing customs kiosks

In an effort to reduce lines and streamline traffic in their airports, New Zealand has been testing the use of interactive kiosks in their airport customs departments to speed travellers through. As notes:
The kiosks would automatically check the identity of travellers, using software to match people against their passport photos, while ensuring passengers weren't on wanted lists. The kiosks would advise passengers if Customs needed to question them.

The computerised entry checks will be offered first to "registered passengers" – likely to be frequent fliers – who volunteer to use biometric kiosks to avoid queues at manned Customs booths.

However, a request for information (RFI) jointly issued by Customs and Auckland International Airport suggests the use of the kiosks will eventually be the norm for all passengers.

Customs information systems manager Peter Rosewarne says security won't be compromised. Passengers will continue to be watched by Customs officers from the moment they stepped off the aircraft.

Thanks to new Advanced Passenger Processing technology, Customs knows who is travelling to New Zealand before they board their aircraft, and has more time to assess possible risks and decide who it wants to take aside for questioning.
The rest of the article can be found here.

Considering Wi-Fi Kiosks

This is an interesting topic that I've thought about quite a bit lately, so it was nice to see this article at Kiosk Marketplace that talks about the current state of the industry of Wi-Fi hotspot kiosks. As they say:
"With more devices Internet-enabled — and more of them sold — with each passing day, the number of potential Wi-Fi users is soaring. Statistics are fuzzy given the newness of the topic, but according to a directory of hotspots maintained by JiWire, there are almost 80,000 Wi-Fi locations worldwide, the vast majority of which (more than 30,000) are in the United States. Dataquest, a research firm located in India, estimates that the total number worldwide will grow to 200,000 by 2008."
However, it's not clear-cut as to the long-term viability of the model, since emerging technologies including "real" 3G cellular service, WiMax, and even public municipal Wi-Fi networks will encroach on paid-for Wi-Fi's territory, allowing customers multiple (and often free) ways to get online instead of paying for the service.