Wednesday, March 28, 2007

MobilLime to merge with Cuesol

According to this press release, Cuesol, a company that for me is synonymous with the shopping-cart mounted Shopping Buddy kiosks (now apparently renamed the Cart Companion) is planning to merge with mobile marketing firm MobilLime. The merger apparently comes with the goal of combining MobileLime's mobile loyalty and payment platform with Cuesol's kiosk and shopping cart solutions. Obligatory press release quote:
The merger with Cuesol offers the opportunity to measurably improve the shopping experience by bringing together cell phone-based rewards and promotions with interactive, self-service shopping," said Robert Wesley, president and CEO, MobileLime. "In combining the passion, creativity and technology of these two companies, we will continue to help retailers develop one-to-one relationships with their customers by transforming the retail shopping experience."
I personally like this one. While not the most obvious combination on first glance, Cuesol has demonstrated a willingness to try out unique ideas in order to improve the in-store experience, and I think that -- if done correctly -- mobile will be a natural part of that.

Tags: MobilLime, Cuesol, interactive kiosks

Thursday, March 22, 2007

TNR Entertainment introduces 'Win Movies for a Year' promotion at DVD kiosks

TNR Entertainment, providers of $1 DVD rental kiosks to a growing number of US grocery stores, has introduced what it calls an industry first: a new promotion that promises a year of free DVD rentals from the kiosks to a lucky group of winners. As this press release notes:
Every day of the promotion, one lucky shopper's name will be randomly chosen to receive free movies for a year. Shoppers can rent up to three movies per day. The winners will receive a New Release-branded Visa check card with $365, plus tax pre-loaded. No purchase is necessary to enter and both new and existing New Release renters are welcomed to participate. There are two ways to enter, either online at or with the mail-in entry form on flyers at TNR's rental kiosks.
Considering that the total cost of the prize is only $365 x the 45 winners they plan to have, this a great yet very inexpensive way for TNR to generate buzz, and possibly bump us usage of their kiosks at the same time. And usage they need: in order to keep up with their deployment schedule, the firm had to raise about $45M last year.

Tags: interactive kiosks, dvd rental kiosks, promotions

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

PayByTouch introduces kiosks to bring web-style analytics into retail

PayByTouch has been using sophisticated biometric systems for payment acceptance for a while now, having installed their fingerprint readers in thousands of retail stores across the US. But up until now, their offerings were limited to fairly vanilla payment acceptance and loyalty program integration.

However, according to this article in Internet Retailer (and backed up by the original press release from PayByTouch), the system is already impacting 50% of store revenue in its installed locations, and has had offer redemption rates in excess of 20% (which is insanely high, even for "easy" card-based loyalty programs). Apparently, shoppers who have enrolled in SmartShop have also increased their visits by 10% over past years, which is also a critical metric for highly competitive grocery chains who are increasingly feeling competition from drug stores like Walgreens and convenience stores like 7-11 for quick "top up" shopping trips for a few items. PayByTouch's research into the system's performance also indicated a 5.1% increase in revenue growth average, 6.1% increase in consumer spending versus stores not equipped with the kiosk.

Granted those results were taken from a single trial grocer for a single month in 2006, so there's no telling how accurate they really are, however numerous in-store loyalty kiosk systems have been shown effective and well-received by customers, so I wouldn't be surprised to see the same reaction and results for this one.

While it's still going to take a bit of time for me to get used to the idea of using my fingerprint to get coupons, this kind of technology is becoming increasingly more common, so I expect that adoption rates will climb quickly if biometrics are shown to significantly improve loyalty program performance.

Tags: PayByTouch, SmartShop, interactive kiosks, loyalty programs

Friday, March 09, 2007

Adidas virtual shoe-fitting mirror

It's a big screen, so maybe it's digital signage... but it's interactive so maybe it's a kiosk. However you classify it, though, a new device on display at Adidas's Paris store (more of an experience boutique, really), is really cool.

First noticed by Gizmag, the system uses a complex array of cameras, image processors and green-screen technology to track a customer's motions in real-time. Then, instead of presenting a true reflection, the "mirror" digitally paints shoes (Adidas, of course) on top of the customer's feet. The upshot is that a customer could conceivably stand in front of the mirror and virtually try out dozens of different styles and colors without having to send an attendant into the back room until the final selection has been made.

Another version of the software also lets the user simulate trying on different sportswear as well as shoes, upping the virtual shopping ante.

While there's undoubtedly a "cool factor" to the tech, there are a few practical purposes that could see it getting deployed more broadly. First, if it works properly, it could really speed up the process of trying on shoes (and clothes), make it much more efficient (since you'd need fewer salespeople). Second, you could dramatically reduce inventory space, allowing the shopper to purchase the shoes and have them shipped. While there's obviously a big benefit to letting the customer actually try on the product (since feet can be fickle), there's no reason to keep five different colors of the same exact shoe on hand. Similarly, if it takes off, this could be a good way to try out some basic product line extension, allowing customers to order specialty colors and styles that wouldn't normally make sense to physically stock due to low turnover.

MIT's Advertising Lab also has a brief post about it, as well as links to past articles that have used mirrors and screens to overlay virtual items onto real-world reflections.

Tags: Adidas, virtual reality, interactive kiosk, digital signage