Friday, March 31, 2006

WineMiner rolls out Internet-based wine-and-recipe kiosks

Internet Retailer tells us that:

WineMiner LLC, a provider of Internet-based kiosks for researching wine and complementary food recipes, is rolling out kiosks in specialty food stores and major supermarket chains.

The kiosks, deployed in two Key West, FL locations of Fausto's Food Palace Inc., display selections of wine, cheeses and complementary recipes downloaded from WineMiner's web site,, says Jon Holland, president of WineMiner. He adds that WineMiner is in negotiations with national and regional supermarket chains to roll out similar kiosks, which typically run on WineMiner's proprietary kiosk-operating software.
Because clearly, the thing that a wine kiosk manufacturer needs to really compete is a proprietary kiosk operating system. That content stuff? Nah, that's the easy part. Why focus on that? You can read the rest of the article here.
As reported by KioskCom:
RedboxTM, the nation�s leader in automated DVD rental services, today announced an agreement with Smith�s Food & Drug, a division of the Kroger Co., to feature fully automated DVD rental kiosks in Smith�s locations throughout the western United States. Redbox DVD kiosks are now installed and operating in 27 Smith�s locations throughout Las Vegas, providing customers with an expanded one-stop shopping experience. By June 2006, redbox expects to have kiosks installed and ready for use in approximately 70 percent of Smith�s locations throughout Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and Albuquerque.

Las Vegas moviegoers are invited to experience first-hand the convenience of redbox with a free, one-night movie rental. Customers can take advantage of the free DVD offer by visiting any Las Vegas-area redbox by April 15, 2006 and entering the promotional code: LASVEGAS. One free night rental per customer is permitted.

"We are very pleased with the success of redbox in Las Vegas, and are looking forward to expanding our reach in other Smith�s locations this year," said Gregg Kaplan, Chief Executive Officer of redbox. "This is an exciting opportunity to introduce more consumers to the ease and convenience of redbox."

"Smith's is delighted to be the first major outlet for redbox in Las Vegas, and our 24-hour store operations will provide total flexibility for customers," said Kenny Kimball, Smith's group vice president, operations. "Redbox offers one more reason for consumers to choose Smith�s and get a little more from their shopping experience."

Each fully automated redbox DVD rental kiosk holds more than 500 DVDs, representing 50-60 of the newest movie releases, with new titles available every Tuesday. Consumers simply use a touch screen to select their favorite movies, swipe a valid credit or debit card and go. For added convenience, customers can keep the DVD for as long as they�d like for $1 per night plus tax, and return their DVD to any redbox kiosk nationwide.

You can read all about it here.

Trans World Entertainment (owner of fye) acquires majority stake in Mix & Burn

Isn't that interesting. As picked up by Kiosk Marketplace,
Trans World Entertainment Corp., an entertainment specialty retailer and parent of f.y.e. ("for your entertainment"), announced that it has acquired a controlling interest in Mix & Burn LLC, a provider of digital content services to retailers nationwide. Using Mix & Burn's technology, consumers mix and burn music CDs and download digital songs on demand, allowing the creation of customized playlists from an extensive catalog of new and old content. According to a news release, Mix & Burn will soon expand its offerings to include downloads onto a music player, cell phone and portable video player.
While I don't know a lot about Mix & Burn's business (CD burning kiosks are a tough niche to play in, seeing as you have big complex hardware requirements, lots of data to transfer, and massive issues with DRM and studio compliance), I wonder if the conversation was anything like this:

FYE: We want to install another 1,000 kiosks and upgrade the software with some new features.
M&B: Ok, that will be $15M please.
FYE: I have a better idea. How's about I give you $5M and buy your company

Granted there would be some negotiations, but if fye saw a real value in offering media-on-demand, this would make sense for them.

Caribou Coffee Installs Point Of Sale Kiosks

According to this story at AMonline,

Caribou Coffee says it has helped improve the customer experience at its 400 shops worldwide by implementing innovative IBM kiosk and point of sale (POS) technologies. Working with RDS Systems of Minneapolis, Minn., IBM has installed more than 900 SurePOS 500 point of sale systems and more than 100 IBM Anyplace Kiosk units at the Caribou locations, with plans to install 300 additional Anyplace Kiosk units by 2008. As a result, Caribou can be even more responsive to customer requests, handling even the most complex orders quickly, efficiently and accurately.

IBM Anyplace Kiosks help Caribou enhance employee productivity. Located in the barista (coffee-making) stations, these compact units help employees process orders quickly and easily using an advanced infrared touch screen display. Caribou says they are piloting these all-in-one kiosks as a manager's workstation at two of its freestanding mall stores and are evaluating their use for employee training.

Caribou is also looking at customer-facing applications. One of these would feature easy-to-read information on menu items, specials and promotions.

I would like to have known more about the applications running on the IBM Anyplace kiosks, which are basically like POS stations on steroids. Bigger screens, more powerful CPUs and great multimedia capabilities make these tough little units ideal for high-end POS services (in places that can afford them, anyway), or any user-facing self-service application, which is probably why Caribou selected them.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Mediaport Selects IBM Kiosk Services

According to this article at KioskCom, "IBM has signed an agreement with Mediaport Entertainment, Inc. to provide IT services, maintenance, and financing for a 1,000 retail kiosk rollout that delivers digital content to consumers."
Mediaport is currently deploying its MediaATM� kiosks at Sanity Music and Virgin Music Entertainment retail stores in Australia and New Zealand, totaling 1,000 kiosks over the next two years.

Consumers can burn customized CDs or rapidly download any digital product to a USB, Bluetooth enabled, or MP3 device. Mediaport�s robust content catalog features thousands of albums from Warner Music Group, EMI Music, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Universal Music International, among others; games; videos; DVDs; e-books; ringtones; and software.
The kiosks are actually more like media servers, using IBM's POWER-5 CPUs to deliver video on demand from about a terabyte of on-site storage. Crazy stuff.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Kiosks' slow ROI may not slow their growth

Calculating kiosk ROI is no easy matter, but the big, expensive and complex equipment and service costs practically guarantee slow ROI for many vertically-oriented applications. The Wise Marketer has released an interesting article looking at the ups and downs of deploying a kiosk network, but note that the self-service systems promise to meet and exceed their ROI projections when done right:
According to Christopher Rezendes, [Forrester Research] project director for the [2007 kiosk] report, "Our findings provided evidence that the right kiosk deployment can enhance consumer experiences in a broad range of retail businesses. In turn, these enhancements can contribute to higher transaction values and reduced costs in processing these transactions."

"We expect that retailers from a broad range of segments will invest more of their IT, merchandising and logistics talent to deploy kiosks in ways that have immediate and material impact on their customers' experiences and their business units' income statements," Rezendes concluded.

The shredding kiosk...

No, it's not the title of a new B-grade horror movie, it's a cool product being offered by RealTime Shredding, "a Colorado Springs-based company that aims to bring commercial-grade shredding capabilities to the masses," according to this article at Self-service World. From the article:
RealTime indeed might be arriving at a very opportune time. According to a report by the non-profit Identity Theft Resource Center, 7 million people in the U.S. fell victim to identity theft in the past 12 months — that’s about 800 people every hour. Victims spend an average of 600 hours recovering from the crime, which amounts to an average of $16,000 in lost potential or real income.

As awareness of identity theft has risen in the public mind, so too has the sale of at-home shredding units. The American Office Products Distributors association said the global shredder market is currently $700 to $800 million a year, with a projected annual growth of 20 percent. Fellowes, a leading manufacturer of shredders, said its sales rose 25 percent in 2003 from the year before.
I love this idea (especially the clever distribution of "Real-Time Shredding" bags that users can keep at home or in the office, sort of like the dedicated recycling can that has become so ubiquitous. Read the article to find out more about it :)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Self-service picking up in the UK

According to NCR (as quoted in this article from The Retail Bulletin), "[t]he number of self-service checkouts at supermarkets in the UK will increase dramatically in 2006 as virtually all major retailers say they have plans for expansion. Indeed, the self-service revolution may even spill over into other retail sectors."

This is actually a really interesting article focusing mostly on self-checkout systems deployed in the UK. Things I learned include:

  • The installation of self-checkout devices typically has no measurable impact on shrinkage (theft).
  • Even though it takes the average consumer about 350% more time to scan their own items (3 seconds for a cahier vs 11 for a consumer), they "feel" that the process is much quicker because their attention is occupied.
  • At at least one Tesco store, 60% of the checkout stations are self-service, and the company leaves open the possibility that someday some of their stores may be entirely cashier-less

Tower Records Deploys TouchMedia's in-store Digital Media Stations

PRWeb says:
TouchMedia and Tower Records, America’s leading independent music and movie retailer, today announced the completion of a nationwide rollout of over 330 custom digital media stations throughout Tower’s 89 US locations. TouchMedia’s new family of digital media stations is a comprehensive line of multi-purpose, touch screen devices that, depending on configuration, allow consumers to search, scan, discover, preview and purchase physical and digital media products.
Sounds like a big deal, right? Well, it might be, someday. But read on:
Over the course of a 6 month trial program with the TouchMedia platform in their Seattle, Denver, and Tempe stores, Tower Records management team analyzed the system’s positive impact on sales, store efficiency and customer satisfaction which ultimately led to Tower’s selection of TouchMedia as their in-store digital media and technology provider. The digital media stations have been retrofitted into Tower’s existing CD listening station fixtures which now feature interactive touch screen technology, media discovery and preview capabilities, and the digital downloading of promotional music to portable storage devices and a growing list of portable media players.
So it looks like they'll be trying to focus on real, tangible ROI from the interactive kiosks (since that's what they are) before deciding whether or not to roll out to the rest of the chain. While it would be wonderful if Tower and/or TouchMedia decided to publish their results at the end of the trial (regardless of how they went), this is probably not very likely to happen ;)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Source Technologies introduces web-based kiosk project planner

From any of a number of press release sites:
Source Technologies, a leading provider of integrated solutions for managing financial transactions and other secure business processes, announced the availability of the concourse(TM) Kiosk Project Planner, an interactive design tool to create customized transactional kiosk project plans. The Planner is a Web-based application that users can access on the company's website.

As an easy-to-use Web-based application, the concourse(TM) Kiosk Project Planner allows businesses to interactively develop their kiosk project requirements by selecting either branch banking or retail applications, hardware enhancements, color options and technical support packages. In addition, the Kiosk Project Planner collects information regarding production and deployment to ensure optimal implementation and post-sale support. After completion of eight simple steps, the requirements can be viewed online and submitted automatically. Source Technologies responds with a comprehensive kiosk design and project plan based on the submission.

"Source Technologies developed the Kiosk Project Planner to offer our customers an easy way to work through some of the initial steps in planning a self-service deployment," said Miles Busby, president of Source Technologies. "Banks and retailers are aggressively looking for transactional kiosks that address their customer's specific needs and that also provide unique branding opportunities. By allowing the customer to choose their model, devices, applications, colors and implementation plan, we are enabling our customers to quickly and effectively scope their project, reduce their time-to-benefit and maximize their return on investment."

You can find the press release here.

Cardtronics and Info Touch announce hybrid kiosk-ATM

In the world of financial transaction processing, this kind of union just makes sense. After all, what's an ATM other than a really locked-down (I hope) kiosk with a cash dispenser? From the press release,

Cardtronics Inc. and Info Touch Technologies Corp. are expected to introduce a hybrid ATM this spring that combines traditional cash dispense with cash acceptance. According to a news release, in addition to making a spring pilot program in select U.S. markets, a total managed solution that includes hardware, software and administration services also will be offered.

This initiative allows merchants to offer a broad range of financial services, without requiring any additional staffing or dedicated floor space beyond what is typically needed for an ATM. A few of the available services include bill payment, wireless phone top-ups, long distance, mobile content and other PIN-based products, gift card purchases, stored-value card dispensing and stored-value card reloading.


Cardtronics will own and operate the new hybrid ATMs; Info Touch will provide processing services for all services beyond cash dispensing.

The other thing that I thought was neat is that these ATMs will be branded with InfoTouch's TIO logo, and effectively will be part of the TIO network, which already has a good foothold (and some brand recognition) with the unbanked population.