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How to Implement an Interactive Kiosk in Your Retail Store

Interactive kiosks continue to grow in popularity, popping up in more and more retail stores. They serve a variety of purposes – such as educational, entertaining, and functional – and prove a benefit to both customer and employee.

One of the great things about kiosks is the way they help you grab your customers' attention in a way that the customer appreciates, while marketing your brand and imparting important information. Implementing such a system may seem complicated and confusing. Approach it logically, though, and you won't have any problems.

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The Big Picture

If you're looking to integrate kiosks in your store, look into the types of systems currently used by your competitors and in the industry as a whole. Keep in mind, though, that what is popular at one retailer won't necessarily translate into your unique needs.

For example, if you run a specialty boutique, and one of the primary benefits of shopping at your store is a knowledgeable staff and personalized attention, an informational kiosk is not the type of system you want. Your customers may love that at their local big box store, but they come to your store for expertise, not convenience.

The key takeaway here is to have a deep understanding of what your customers want and will actually use, as well as what works best for your own store.

Environment and Business Needs

The variety of interactive kiosks continues to grow, but the most popular units include:

  • Check-in systems, which may be designed to allow employees to "clock in" or customers to pick up or purchase tickets
  • Interactive catalogs allow the customer to browse through your inventory to see what's available and what needs to be ordered
  • Resource centers provide your customers, and even your staff, with valuable information about your products or services

The components of your chosen system rely heavily on the type of system you choose. Most basic units include the CPU, a cabinet, and a display device. The peripherals are the variables that are reliant on the system type. Peripherals may include:

  • A touch screen that allows your employees and customers to enter information
  • Printers, so that customers may print out tickets or receipts
  • Speakers for informational systems
  • Scanners and magnetic stripe or chip readers so that customers can complete purchases

Ease of Use

Unless you want to be answering questions all day on how to use it, you want a kiosk with an intuitive, simple interface. In addition, you want to place it in an easily accessed location. Location and usability help ensure your customers actually use the kiosk, instead of turning it into a not-so-interesting sculpture you occasionally dust.

You may need to hire a third party to create the user interface, especially if you want it to incorporate your logo and brand into the design and don't have your own design and marketing department.

Make it Entertaining and On Target

You want your interactive kiosk to be consistent with your brand's overall message while offering your customers a fun, engaging experience and making them feel excited about your campaign.

Keeping your message on target helps deepen your customers experience of your store and builds a sense of trust in your message. Making sure your kiosk is entertaining, and provides a fun experience, helps differentiate you from your competition. And, let's face it, with so much competition out there, anything you can do to stand out from the pack is a good thing.

Develop an Action Plan

You need an implementation plan to make sure all goes well. Answering a few basic questions helps you develop your plan.

Will you use preexisting software, or start from scratch?

Using preexisting software is the simplest method, but isn't necessarily the best method. It all depends on what functions you want in your kiosk. Using web applications, or creating your own, offers a lot more flexibility and creativity.

What's the purpose of your kiosk, and where will you put it?

Certain types of kiosks require more security. If it's in a high traffic area, or you intend to collect financial data or complete financial transactions, you need a system with more stringent security measures.

Who will manage the kiosk?

More simple systems need nothing more than your staff to manage them. However, if you plan to store data in the CPU, or access it remotely, you may require functions like cloud computing and off-site management.

With the right planning and a little imagination, you can create an interactive kiosk that delights your customers and eases some of the burdens your employees shoulder. It just requires a bit of research and thought.

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