Category Archives: Informational Kiosk

How Kiosks Make Our Daily Lives Easier – Part 1

Kiosks have been mentioned quite often in the news lately, from Quick Service Restaurants (QSRs) like Panera and McDonalds adopting the technology, to New York City’s conversion of their iconic phone booths to Wi-Fi Kiosks. These are just a few examples, but for a long time, interactive kiosks have been in use or could be found in many places we go to everyday and have been making our lives a lot easier; you just may not have realized.

 

An Information Kiosk providing internet services

An Information Kiosk providing internet services

One of the basic uses of kiosks is to provide information, whether about a company, a service, an event or location. Information kiosks can be used anywhere information needs to be disseminated, but many are used in museums, malls or lobbies. They can also be used to provide internet access or Wi-Fi to patrons or customers. They often take the form of interactive signage that utilize wayfinding applications. (We will discuss wayfinding kiosks in more detail in Part 2 of this blog). A great example is the information kiosks at Frankfurt airport that read boarding passes and direct passengers to where they need to be.

 

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Companies often use information kiosks to communicate with employees. These human resource kiosks, in addition to providing company information, give employees access to administrative forms such as leave requests, employee manuals, insurance information or even internal training sessions. They can also be used to access the company’s intranet. A great example of the use of human resource kiosks can be seen here.

 

The use of kiosks to provide human resource services can also be extended to job applicants as kiosks provide a convenient way to accept job applications. Prospective candidates can enter their information at kiosks placed at the company’s head office or in the case of retail, at the location with the job vacancy.

 
The popularity of kiosks is probably as a direct result of their self-service applications. In a world where time is precious and consumers are more ‘hands on’, many users prefer having the option of conducting business or paying for services via a machine. It is one of the reasons kiosks can be found in many retail locations.

 

A Loyalty Card Kiosk

A Loyalty Card Kiosk

Retail kiosks, which are often confused with Retail Merchandising units which can also be found at malls with novelty items for sale, are manned units and can be considered mini stores. The retail kiosks we are referring to are electronic units that can be used at stores to accept payments, issue gift/loyalty cards or provide a catalog of a store’s inventory, making it easier for customers to peruse available items and request out of stock items or additional models and colors that may be available at other store locations. It eliminates the need for them to drive to other branches, as orders can be delivered to the location of their choice. It also provides a great opportunity to collect customer data via surveys or purchase history to inform future marketing campaigns or offers.

 
These kiosks can also be used to offer additional services including payment of store credit cards or utility bills, sale updates and coupons or a gift registry. It often eliminates the need to have additional staff for these services and are conveniently accessible after store hours. Some of these services can provide operators with additional revenue through transaction/service fees.

 
Many of the retail self-service applications mentioned above, can be used in other industries including hospitality, healthcare, airports and airlines and restaurants. Hotels and airports use kiosks to provide a more efficient way of checking in, allowing travelers to avoid the frustration of long lines.

 

A Patient Registration kiosk

Patient Registration kiosk

Self-service check in has also now been extended to the healthcare industry to assist in patient management. Patients are now allowed to check in on arrival at a doctor’s office or medical facility allowing front desk staff to easily access their information while eliminating the need for excessive paperwork.

 

 

 

A Self-Service Checkout kiosk at a micro market location

A Self-Service Checkout kiosk at a micro market location

Self-service checkout kiosks, as mentioned in our opening paragraph, are also gaining popularity at restaurants. The goal is to make ‘fast’ food even faster by allowing customers to place their orders via a kiosk, ensuring they get exactly what they want on their order, without standing in line. It still remains to be seen if they truly provide a faster service, as orders still have to be fulfilled by servers which still leaves room for human error as well as variations in the speed of service.

 
Self-checkout kiosks are not only used for fast food, but also for food purchases at supermarkets and micro markets. Both allow customers to access goods and scan and pay for them at the kiosk. It eliminates the need to stand in line and in the case of micro markets, provides a healthy, quick lunch option for workers.

 
Kiosks provide many benefits to both the businesses that operate them, as well as to end users. Hence the reason they are so widely used. Some of the benefits of kiosks include:
• An enhanced customer service experience
• They facilitate the collection and management of customer data
• They provide value-added services
• They allow extended service beyond standard store hours
• They almost always provide a positive Return on Investment (ROI)
• They decrease wait times for customers
• They assist in reducing employee hiring and training costs
• They provide a great avenue for product marketing and company branding

 
These are just a few of the benefits of kiosks. We will continue to explore additional services available via kiosks for various industries in Part 2 of this blog.

 

 

The Joy of Self-service Kiosks and Holiday Shopping

christmas shoppingIt’s that time of the year when your fingers tingle from the cold air (depending on where you live) and/or from the pure excitement this season brings, no matter how old you are. However, despite the warm and fuzzy feeling that the holidays bring, unless you’re super organized and complete your shopping online by the end of November, let’s face it, most of us dread what awaits us at the shopping malls and retail outlets, starting the day after Thanksgiving.

 

 
Wouldn’t it be great to maneuver through the crowds, select our items and not have to stand in a long lines? While self-service kiosks may not be able to lessen the crowd, they certainly can make the shopping process a little easier. Here are some benefits of using self-service kiosks during the holidays.

 

 
They’re easy to use
‘Easy’ is exactly what most of us look for while shopping during the holiday season – uncomplicated deals along with ease of access to products and services. Self-service kiosks provide an easy alternative to purchasing your items.

 

 

 

They provide additional services
Our lists seem to multiply during the holiday season, including our ‘to do’ lists. During the excitement of the season, it’s easy to forget that they are still bills to pay, coupons to redeem and gift cards to access. Many self-service kiosks provide these extra services allowing you to top up prepaid credit cards or gift cards, pay utility bills and even access loans. Some of these, such as the gift cards and prepaid cards are great, hassle-free gift options, as well.

 

 

 

No Cash? No problem
Self-service kiosks provide various payment options so you can purchase your items with credit and bank cards or cash. There is no longer the need to look for an ATM before purchasing your items.

 

 

 

They’re convenient
This goes without saying, as any device that allows you to avoid long lines when you have a long ‘to do’ list, is always convenient.

 

 

 

They enhance the shopping experience
If you’re a frequent shopper at a store that has a loyalty program, based on your past purchase patterns, the kiosk can highlight promotions, offer options and provide coupons based on your preferences.

 

 

 

They can help you get exactly what you want
Doesn’t it sometimes seem that particularly during the holiday rush, you see the item that you want advertised, but can’t locate it at the store? A self-service kiosk can locate it for you. It can also provide additional information about the store branches that have the item in stock, along with details such as color and size options.

 

 

 

They may assist you in making a final decision
If you are uncertain about a product that you wish to purchase, a kiosk can provide you with product specifications and additional details that may not be apparent by just looking at the item, including warranty information, along with product and price comparisons.

 

 

 

A Slabb X6 self-service kiosk at a mall

A Slabb X6 self-service kiosk at a mall

Self-service kiosks provide many benefits, benefits that are great throughout the year, but are even more appreciated during the holiday rush. The great thing about self-service kiosks is that they simply provide an alternative; so if you’re one of those exhilarated by the rush and long lines, or simply feel more comfortable with face to face contact, the option of interacting with a sales representative is always there. The choice is yours.

The Future of Travel: Self-service Technology

It seems as though for the past year, or so, not a month has passed where another US airport hasn’t announced the launch of automated passport control kiosks (APCs) to assist in expediting the customs and immigration process. APCs, as they are becoming commonly known as, are self-service passport control kiosks that replace the traditional immigration process of completing declaration and customs forms.

 

 
According to information provided on the SITA website, the kiosks uses three steps when processing travellers. They allow passengers to:

 

 
1) Answer a set of regulatory questions via a touchscreen
2) Have their passport read and verified
3) Have their identities verified.

 

 

 

US Global Entry Program (Photo Courtesy: association.com)

US Global Entry Program (Photo Courtesy: association.com)

These three simple steps, have now made a once time-consuming process, quick, efficient and beneficial to not only travelers but to the US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and airlines as well. The United States CBP can now boast faster processing times that reduce queues while increasing processing capacity with the same number of agents. This allows agents to focus on persons of interest. The system also provides high accuracy biometric matching. The kiosks enable airports to use their space and resources more efficiently, reduce queues and clear immigration and customs faster, thereby improving the overall service experience for passengers. The incidence of missed connections is also reduced.

 

 
There are APC kiosk at over 20 airports in North America including Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL), Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), and Chicago Midway International Airport (MDW), to name a few.

 

 
Recently, countries such as Aruba and the Bahamas also announced the introduction of APC kiosks. Nassau has plans to purchase 20 of the kiosks. It is expected the trend will continue with the introduction of these kiosks in other major international airports as well.

 

 
But even before the use of APC kiosks, the aviation industry had adopted self-service technology in an effort to enhance the travel experience from arrival at the airport, to the check-in and boarding process. There are many examples of this technology currently at work, many of which utilize the self-service kiosk. Here are a few examples we found:

 

 

 

SITA Beacon Registry (Photo courtesy: developer.aero/BeaconRegistry)

SITA Beacon Registry     (Photo courtesy: developer.aero)

• SITA has also launched the SITA Common-use Beacon Registry. It is a global beacon registry for airlines who wish to communicate with passengers as they enter an airport. The system can communicate with mobile devices within a radius of 100 feet, identify the location of the passenger and send regular updates including estimated walk time to the gate, boarding alerts and if the boarding gate changes.

 

 

 

Canoe.ca ranked the top 10 airport terminals in the world, #1, Hong Kong International Airport, has won several best airport awards. The airport features amenities such as a shopping mall and gourmet food options as well as internet kiosks.

 

 

 

MegaNews Magazines 'Print on Demand' kiosk (Photo courtesy: airportsinternational.com)

MegaNews Magazines ‘Print on Demand’ kiosk           (Photo courtesy: airportsinternational.com)

• Sweden’s airport is the first to offer Print on Demand kiosks to passengers. Described as the first ‘automatic newsstand’, these kiosks are simple to use – passengers can choose from hundreds of titles, browse the magazine they would like and once they’ve made a decision on the publication they want, they simply pay with a credit card. The publication is delivered in 2 minutes.

 

 

 

• Poland’s Chopin Airport has taken it a step further by providing a virtual assistant to help passengers with self-service check-in. The assistant responds in both English and Polish, to queries that include how to use the self-check-in kiosks, which documents need to be prepared and how to print a boarding pass. It’s the first of its kind in Poland.

 

 

 

Russia's Domodedovo Airport (Photo Courtesy: domodedovo.ru)

Russia’s Domodedovo Airport (Photo Courtesy: domodedovo.ru)

• Moscow Domodedovo Airport has installed self-service kiosks that allow passengers to report lost or in transit bags. It eliminates the need to queue up to speak with an agent, instead, passengers simply scan their bag receipt barcode at the kiosk to file a missing bag report. The kiosks are linked to WorldTracer, the global tracing system for mishandled baggage developed by SITA and IATA. The system then matches found bags with lost bag reports.

 

 

• Austrian Airlines has introduced self-service bag drop units at Vienna Airport. The units being used during this trial phase, allow passengers who have already checked-in for their flight to go directly to the bag drop counter to print and attach their bag tags and deposit their luggage into the baggage handling system, without the need for an airline agent.

 

 

 

Hamburg's self-service infrastructure (Photo courtesy: airport-world.com)

Hamburg’s self-service infrastructure                  (Photo courtesy: airport-world.com)

• Hamburg recently revamped their airport with the launch of new self-service infrastructure which gives passengers the option of checking in and dropping off baggage at self-service kiosks.

 

 

 

• London’s Tesco offers a virtual grocery store at the North Terminal of Gatwick Airport. After arrival, travelers can order groceries via a digital signage kiosk.

 

 

• Malta International Airport allows passengers to purchase travel insurance via a kiosk.

 

 

 

These are just a few examples of self-service technology at work. It is expected that the trend will only continue with predictions of investments in smart airport technology surpassing $13 million by 2020. According to an article on kioskmarketplace.com, “The current market, estimated to be $9,718.07 million in 2014, is focusing more on passenger satisfaction by implementing self-service solutions. For example, two-thirds of airports have programs to deploy kiosks and Wi-Fi. Improving passenger satisfaction is the primary reason for airport IT expenditures…”

This comes as no surprise, as passengers continue to demand value for their money with the expectation that they spend less time in queues and at airports, in general, and more time spent enjoying their journeys.

The True Value of an Informational Kiosk

Many people are familiar with an informational kiosk. These public access computers are typically found in various locations and at events, where general information is required. Malls, parks, sports stadiums and trade shows use the informational kiosk to provide any type of information from: maps, trails, safety information, store directories and even seating plan layouts at concert theatres. The primary goal of the informational kiosk is to provide complete information for the location or event, while keeping the process simple.

Keyboard & Trackball of Slabb's X5 model

Keyboard & Trackball of Slabb’s X5 model

An informational kiosk can be beneficial to a business in terms of its marketing strategy. The informational kiosk is typically equipped with a trackball and keyboard. This enables the vendor to collect email addresses and phone numbers or to provide customers with the requested information that they may have signed up to receive. This prevails over the old fashioned method of obtaining a prospect’s contact details, by setting up a table or booth with representatives. Many potential customers find this approach invasive and are shown to provide more information, when it is on their own terms.

The informational kiosk also helps to provide safety information and maps at conservatories, national parks and ski lodges. The benefit of having an informational kiosk is that an outdoor model will be available to visitors under any circumstance. When a map providing safe slopes, trails or designated zones is vital to the liability of an organization, it is critical to have information readily available and easily accessible by visitors.

What Does a Kiosk Require to Work?

Aside from a prominent location and installation, all an informational kiosk will require is its software. The software for an informational kiosk can be custom-designed to provide the relevant information which will need to be delivered by the business or organization. A kiosk information company will provide the hardware and software, which will convey information quickly and concisely to get the business message across efficiently. Customized software for an informational kiosk, by a technical expert, is a must-have to make your informational kiosk plan a reality.

How to Order an Informational Kiosk for a Business or Organization

The ideal informational kiosk is available through Slabb, a global manufacturer in computerized interactive kiosks. Slabb’s informational kiosks are available in varying models, which can be customized for the needs of any organization or business. There are four basic types to choose from – the indoor freestanding (X5 or C5 series), the vandal-proof outdoor freestanding (O6 series) or the wall or table mountable (X4 series) informational kiosk.

Slabb's X5 Model

Slabb’s X5 Model

Slabb offers more than just the informational kiosk hardware. We are a full service access kiosk manufacturing company, with a wide range of services and support. We provide the informational kiosk, as well as the software and ongoing development. For more information, or to request a quote, visit us online at http://www.slabbkiosks.com