KIOSKS: Self-Service is the New Customer Service - The Online Magazine for the Sign Trade.
Home | Site Map | Buyer's Guide Search  
Event Calendar Article Archive Message Boards Classifieds Product Showcases News Advertise Search Join Now

  3-D Signs
  Awnings &
  Flexible Face
  Business Development
  CNC Routing
  Computer Technology
  Digital Imaging
  Dynamic Digital
   Message Board
   Tips & Tricks
  Finishing & Lams 
  Flatbed UV
  Garment Decoration
  LED Displays
  LED Lighting
  Neon & LED
  Channel Letter
  Painted Signs
  Screen Printing
  Vinyl Signs
  Hot Shots
  Press Releases
  Tips & Tricks
  Industry Resources
  Event Calendar
  Business Center
  Retail Sign Shops
  Advertising Info

Estimate Software- Printing software that helps you find the hidden treasure in your business.

KIOSKS: Self-Service is the New Customer Service

Kiosks are found throughout the retail and hospitality communities and in customer service roles like sales clerks, bank tellers, order takers, or concierges. .

By Louis M. Brill

What do money withdrawals, photo portraits, airplane tickets, transit passes and loyalty cards all have in common? Other than meeting personal needs of the moment, they are all kiosk transactions. More so, is the likelihood that a person will encounter one or more of these kiosks on an almost daily basis.

Sign Elements Vehicle Templates

Check It Out!

  • Dynamic Digital Articles
  • Industry Alert
  • Hot Shots Photo Gallery
  • Message Boards

    Visit Our Advertisers:

  • Clarke Systems
  • Estimate Software
  • International Sign Assoc.
  • Matrix Payment Systems
  • SGIA Specialty Graphics Imaging Assoc

  • A kiosk is basically a self-service, stand alone transactional device that provides a product or service to its user. Kiosks can be seen everywhere within the retail and hospitality communities and in effect acting as sales clerks, bank tellers, order takers, or concierges each system supplying critical information and services to one and all on an as needed basis.

    The growth and acceptance of kiosk deployments are based on two dynamics; one technological, and the other societal. On the technology side, the kiosk as a digital device is becoming more versatile and able to provide high-definition screens, better printers, faster bandwidth and more on-board memory for more efficient business and retail use. On the societal side, many people, particularly the younger population are more technologically savvy and computer literate, and more willing to use kiosks as in-store or institutional service providers.

    KIOSKS information systems
    As a public-based interactive digital screen device, kiosks are in the orbit of digital signage, but in a class of their own. With a keyboard and a touch screen they reside in a unique area of electronic interface devices. Cherly Madeson, Marketing Manager for KIOSK Information Systems (Louisville, CO), noted that kiosks are generally considered transactional devices, which as compared to digital signage, engages its users but does not generally execute a transaction.

    Redbox is an American company that specializes in DVD rentals via self-service kiosks. With an estimated 24,800-plus sites as of 2010, the company's kiosks are located across the United States in fast food restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores, and convenience stores. More specifically among its many deployment areas, Redbox kiosks can be found in most, if not all of Walmart, Walgreens, McDonald's, Kroger, Albertsons and 7-Eleven stores.

    The kiosks are presented in the company's signature red color where each fully automated red box kiosk holds approximately 630 DVDs, representing up to 200 new release titles. New titles are available at Redbox every Tuesday. Movie fans can use the kiosk touch screen to select their favorite movies, swipe a valid credit or debit card and go.

    Within the DVD marketplace, Redbox has a 23% market share of the entire DVD rental network including brick& motor video rental stores and mail order such as Netflix. They are also the largest DVD kiosk provider in the United States

    The great attraction for Redbox is that DVDs rent for one dollar a night. If you keep it for 25 days or more, you own it. As for Americans love affair with cinema, on January 1, 2010, Redbox determined that the night before on New Year's Eve Americans rang in the New Year with a record breaking rental of two million DVDs which were watched at home that night.

    "At KIOSK, we consider digital signage to fall more into the non-transactional domain, but we also see an overlap between the two. For example if an entertainment venue uses digital signage to present event information and times only - it's digital signage. If they were to integrate transactional capability (credit card / ticket / receipt printer type components), then it crosses over to a hybrid between a digital sign and transactional kiosk."

    "In this situation a kiosk client has leveraged the transactional capability of the kiosk with the added layer of digital signage into the solution with a secondary screen that is used for advertising or for attract loops, etc. In many cases, a business will use a single LCD kiosk to do both functions: have an attract loop when the kiosks are not in transaction mode, and then switch into a revenue producing transaction mode on demand.

    As a remote service and transactional device, the kiosk's potential has hardly been tapped for what they can offer the public. As digital signage has become more visible as a product display and branding tool, kiosks are also gaining serious traction as a functional independent sales system to enhance and speed up a customer sales transaction. On the front-end kiosks can assist customers in gaining store information or the various products that can be dispensed through the units. On the back end they also provide marketing information on how they're used and if they're transactional units, also function as self-service cash registers creating a POS audit trail on daily sales.

    St. Clair Interactive
    In many instances, a kiosk installed within a business can make a competitive difference as a customer service enhancement. These digital devices provide a convenience of self-service, often becoming a shortcut to purchasing something or gaining sales assistance while a sales person is busy elsewhere. This was explained in detail by Chris Peter, a project manager for St. Clair Interactive (Toronto, Canada) a company that has been involved with kiosk development since 1982, and a pioneer in self-service kiosk applications, including custom device integration and end-user interface design. Essentially St Clair creates custom design user applications for specific business situations or can provide pre-designed kiosk interface templates for a standard kiosk requirement.

    At St. Clair a kiosk project begins, according to Peter, "with an understanding of what the business situation is, and how they'd like to use a kiosk(s) to improve their sales and customer service. "When a customer comes to St. Clair, we require a 'service design' overview (a needs analysis) that tells us about their project and fills in all the blanks about what we don't know about the project, so we can give the client the best kiosk applications templates to meet their needs."

    Kiosk installs can range from a single unit in a store to many units under one location. Peter referred to one kiosk scenario where a kiosk device was placed in a small grocery store to act as a sandwich ordering kiosk. In scaling that need up, he then referred to a big supermarket deployment where St. Clair provides a 'store-wide' single solution with multiple identical units installed to serve supermarket customers throughout the store.

    "When a customer enters the store, in that main area is a kiosk which presents a loyalty card offering. But the deli kiosk will present specific deli offerings (receipts - discount coupons). However while those kiosks have specific location functions, all the kiosks in that store can present all the program offerings as store customers in those stores pause at the kiosks to check them out.

    "Gift card services is another popular offering kiosks are providing. With our gift card kiosk," said Peter, "we can replace those traditional gift card racks with a kiosk unit that offers multiple types of gift cards and can produce them as well. It also shortens customer wait times, as the kiosk will activate them allowing the customer to by-pass getting in a register line to turn the card on."

    Sign Elements Vehicle Templates

    Kiosks are used for passenger security screening at Customs and border control facilities.
    Photo by KIOSK International Systems

    Kiosks looking good
    Kiosk design per application is very user-centric depending on what it will be used for and where it will be located. Peter noted the most important part of a kiosk design is the connecting point between the user and the device, which is the content information the screen convoys. Consequently the size of the buttons, their locations on each screen, the number of buttons on the screen, and the amount of information presented on each screen is carefully thought out to maximize customer use of each kiosk.

    Kiosk screen design ultimately determines how well it will function in its marketplace. Bad designs (yep - sometimes that happens) will incur a higher user abandonment of that particular kiosk. Another critical point is turn-around time for a single-user transaction. If it takes too long... you can guess the rest.

    Madesen observed that kiosks are filling many basic customer service, cash transaction and clerical functions in a broad swath of business, hospitality and institutional market areas as follows:
    As an assistance to an HR office, Kiosks offer benefits management processing and provide access to HR Records for reference or update.
    Photo by KIOSK International Systems

    • Ticketing:
      Applications serving the transportation, entertainment, theme park, and resort industries.
    • Healthcare:
      Kiosks assist in Patient Check-in, prescription refill requests, Medical campus way finding and management and HR applications for Medical campus employees.
    • Human Resources:
      Kiosks can manage basic job application or benefits management processing. They can also provide employee training and provide access to HR records for reference or update.
    • Bill Payment/Financial Services:
      Kiosks are used to transact cash-preferred bill payment, check cashing, money transfers, ATM, and card based transactions.
    • Photo:
      Applications include photo upload, optimization, printing, gift ordering.
    • Security:
      Used for passenger security screening at Customs and border control facilities.

    Extra airport time? People can catch up on the Internet or play a game or two awaiting their next flight.
    Photo by KIOSK International Systems

    "The market demand for kiosks is definitely on the rise. The recently stalled economy is causing a steep growth in our industry" Madeson noted. "While the purse strings for capital investments may have tightened in 2009, we are seeing quite the reverse in 2010. Companies are moving very quickly on kiosk deployment strategies to generate additional revenue or implement cost reduction measures that still provide customers with the service levels they demand. We continue to see major growth sectors in most of the US marketplace including Healthcare, Retail, Financial Services, HR and solutions related to Green / Environmental initiatives."

    Kiosks and onward
    As a greater part of our society is now computer literate and has become comfortable with on-line shopping, all that speaks well to the growth and success of kiosks as a dynamic self service asset for in-store shopping. This is not to say that the kiosk will replace clerks and sales associates, but is more a pointer to the way retail will do business to a greater efficiency in connecting customers to products and purchases or getting their questions answered in a timely fashion.

    Burger and a Coke - no problem, make your choices, feed in your credit card, and off you go.
    Photo by KIOSK International Systems

    As much as Digital Out Of Home Signage (DOOHS) has made headway into the business community so will kiosks become a greater part of that same consumer landscape.

    As the telephone has changed the way people communicate, so will the kiosk change the way people transact business. Not every store will have kiosks in them as of right now, but in time more of them will acquire one or more of these transactional modules as a competitive difference in creating sales and enhancing customer service. As Al Jolson said in The Jazz Singer, "You ain't seen nothing yet."

    Louis M. Brill is a journalist and consultant for high-tech entertainment and media communications. He can be reached at (415) 664-0694 or

    Advertising Info
    About Us
    Contact Us
    Privacy Policy
    Site Map
    Industry Resources
    Retail Sign Shops
    Product Showcase
    Event Calendar
    Tips & Tricks
    Message Boards
    Buyer's Guide Listings
    Add My Company
    Edit My Company


    Copyright 1999-2021, All Rights Reserved.