KioskMarketplace: A Harsh Reality For Kiosks
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from KioskMarketplace, a leading online source of news about the kiosk industry worldwide.
Touchscreen interactive kiosks were first introduced in the 1980s. While there have been innovative and effective kiosks, they have arguably been vastly outnumbered by duds and inconsequential installations. Now, the ubiquity of "smart" mobile devices is finally going to cull this industry down to a realistically small size and quickly kill off the worthless kiosks hiding in the shadows, whether Kool-Aid drinking industry players accept it or not.
Largely, kiosks have not made much of an impact in the hearts and minds of the most relevant people — users. Rarely does someone look forward to, boast about, or share positive experiences regarding their encounter with a kiosk. However, they often do with mobile.
Still, there are many non-believers out there trying to justify the need for and usefulness of existing kiosks. Here are some rebuttals and industry wistfulness:
Kiosks to print tickets/coupons from mobile device: Why? That’s a burden on the user. Airlines and Amtrak were heavily into kiosk ticket printing but are migrating to mobile check-ins/ticketing. Retailers are replacing paper scanners with new ones that can scan a phone.
Kiosks for directories, maps and concierge: Mobile is a hand-held, real-time guide with features kiosks will never have.
Kiosks for check-in/loyalty: Bolted to the floor in one spot means a bad or limited user experience. The better options are mobile check-in anywhere and location-based mobile loyalty/coupons/incentives offered precisely where they are most effective.
Endless aisle kiosks: Sure, they can extend a store’s physical inventory infinitely, but who goes to a store anymore to start catalog browsing? Who will wait 10-15 minutes for another user to finish so they can have a turn? What retailer is going to put in 10 to 20 units per location to avoid queuing? Won’t shoppers access a store’s mobile website on their own device?
Next generation kiosks will act as legitimate extensions of mobile devices, digital signage and specialized displays. For example: there’s a kiosk that can measure people’s feet and recommend orthotics based on the data it collects — something not easily achieved with a phone app alone. Additionally, there are kiosks/digital displays that interactively emit fragrance samples — a feature phones won’t have for themselves anytime soon.
But the many kiosks offering the obsolete features mentioned above are doomed. The net result will be a far smaller kiosk industry with the remaining players being companies that understand the new mobile-centric marketplace and are capable of adding value to it, where applicable, with kiosks.
What services may kiosks still provide given the increasingly mobile retail shopping experience? Do you likewise see a bleak future for kiosks at retail?