Category Archives: Interactive Kiosks

Handle, Shoot, Pass, Defend….”SKATE?”

Mike Masone - Sales Director, SlabbKiosks

Mike Masone –  Sales Director, SlabbKiosks

This article was originally published on LinkedIn

 

Winter finally is over in New England (kind of) but playoff hockey remains, with two cold-weather teams fighting it out to face off against a warm weather juggernaut. Watching this saga unfold while in Chicago got me thinking about how fans from each region view their team and sport.

Lots of kids my age (42) grew up hockey-obsessed and pond-adjacent and thus wound up playing pond-hockey… For those not of the North Pond-Hockey is its own brand of- self-organized, non-denominational, age-unrestricted, variable-skill, clock-free, referee-free, fun-first, Mayhem. Games typically formed in or near coves where falling through the ice would result only in temporary discomfort. Start time was a loose 2:30 with students piling off of bicycles plunked by the street or gliding across the pond who were later joined by adults on their way home from work. A 32 year old machinist attempting a break away might find himself set upon Gulliver-style by a trio of third graders out for blood and glory at the exact moment a score is settled between two teens with a cross-check and subsequent Jerseying. The first hand accounts I’ve heard over the years from friends in other cold weather regions have verified that this cross between Norman Rockwell and Phillip K Dick and Gary Larson wasn’t unique to my neck of Massachusetts. This is just how things work out when people find themselves in that environment.

Do you even Skate...Hoser? - (MGM)

Do you even Skate…Hoser? – (MGM)

What does this have to do with anything Kiosk, Self Service, or LinkedInish? The short answer is that every one of these denizens of destruction had learned to skate. We had all taken our lumps over the years getting proficient enough to ‘play’. Ice hockey is the one sport that requires attainment of a certain level of a particular skill to even be considered terrible… no matter how, big, strong, fast, quick, or competitive you are…If you can’t Skate, you can’t even Stink…you’re a non-factor at best…relegated to the land of the shamefully sneaker-clad, awkwardly shuffling and rotating, using your stick as a cane desperately trying not to add a concussion to your rapidly growing list of the afternoon’s impact injuries.

Crossover potential has great appeal and makes for great debate and conversation – Lebron playing Football, Kobe playing Futbol, Bo Jackson playing anything! ….. anything except ICE HOCKEY…..

Be mindful of the sport you are playing and if you are on the ice – of who can skate, and who only looks like they can.

The EMV Impact to Kiosk Operators and Owners

This article was originally published on KioskMarketplace.com.

 

Is there ONLY one way they can be impacted?  Is this something that may adversely affect kiosk owners, even manufacturers, if they do not ensure their kiosks are EMV-enabled? To answer this, we may need to take a step back and analyse exactly what being EMV-enabled means and what happens if a kiosk isn’t ‘upgraded’ to ensure it is.

WHAT IS EMV?

EMV is a global payment standard that was established by the major international credit card companies. The acronym stands for “EuroPay”, “MasterCard”, “Visa”. The standard relies on modern credit card manufacture that utilizes of an embedded microprocessor chip. It replaces other card options that use the more commonly known magstripe or magnetic strip that stores data on the band of magnetic material found on the back of older cards. These cards have been proven to be less secure, as information on the magstripe can easily be retrieved and replicated, leaving the cardholder vulnerable to fraud.

WHY EMV IS IMPORTANT?

EMV technology was introduced as an option that, along with other security measures, could decrease fraudulent credit card activity. Some of the benefits of the implementation of EMV technology includes:

  • Fraud Prevention – EMV cards have been proven to prevent fraudulent transactions. It is nearly impossible to clone because the chip is tamper-proof, making counterfeit card fraud extremely difficult. This, along with the security features mentioned below, are a huge deterrent to would-be fraudsters.
  • Highly Effective Security Features – There are several security benefits of chip card technology.  – It uses a unique card authentication process that makes it more secure. This process includes a one-time cryptographic transaction code (cryptogram) for each transaction that is never replicated or reused. Because the cryptogram is dynamically created by the chip card on each transaction, the data cannot be copied to use on other card present transactions.                         – Chip cards have built-in sophisticated encryption that allows cardholder verification. There are four (4) cardholder verification methods (CVM) supported by EMV: offline PIN, online PIN, signature, or no CVM.                                                                                                                       – Issuer-defined rules can be used to provide transaction authorization. The transaction can be authorized either online or offline (if offline authorization is supported by both the card and the POS. Card brand support in the U.S. varies.)                                                                           These security features complement other payment security standards such as point-to-point encryption (P2PE) or tokenization, providing an additional layer of protection for users.
  • Global Interoperability/Success – EMV is being successfully used in many countries including the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, and Australia. According to an article by Ingenico Group, the United States is the last developed major country to adopt the technology.

Not convinced? Let’s do a side-by-side comparison of EMV to the magnetic strip card technology:

MAGSTRIPE TECHNOLOGY EMV TECHNOLOGY
  • The magnetic fields contain static information that is read by a payment processor.
  • Information is matched to the cardholder’s bank account information.
  • Information can be easily cloned with an affordable, easily accessible tool such as a skimmer.
  • Data on a chip card is constantly changing, as one-time transaction codes are used.
  • Information on the card  enables various methods of cardholder verification.
  • Card information  cannot be copied to create a counterfeit card for card-present usage.

How do we know EMV isn’t more trouble than it’s worth and that it’s effective?

It is now a ‘choice’ in name only.   Merchants who do not implement it are now liable for fraudulent transactions. Its effectiveness is already being seen in other countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia, that have already introduced it. Here are the facts and figures:

  • 1.62 billion cards, 45% of the World’s payment cards, have EMV chips. This does not include the U.S. (Source – Move to Chip).
  • 23.8 million terminals, 76% of the world’s payment terminals, can accept EMV cards.
  • European Union – As the EU completed its migration to EMV, in 2013, the region saw an 80% reduction in credit card fraud. During the same period, the US witnessed a 47% increase in credit card fraud. (Source – Discover Financial Services)
  • Canada: Debit losses fell from a high of $142 million in 2009 to $38.5 million in 2012 – a 73% drop. (Source – Gemalto)
  • France: When EMV was implemented in 2005, counterfeit card fraud dropped by 91% while fraud from card theft fell by 98%.

Just imagine what effect it could have on the credit card fraud in the US. A study conducted by Javelin Strategy and Research stated that the number of in-store credit card fraud victims reached 5.6 million in 2015, up from 5.4 million in 2014. Online/mobile fraud or ‘card-not-present’ fraud reached 6 million in the US in 2015, up from 4.8 million in 2014. Unfortunately, the upcoming year doesn’t look too promising either.

Did you know that it is estimated that credit card fraud in the United States will reach $4 billion by the end of 2016, up 12.5 percent from last year? This is according to an article published by CNBC earlier this year. The article goes on to say that, this estimate could increase to as much as $10 billion between now and 2020 as fraudsters attempt to ‘cash in’ before chip card technology becomes the standard.

The study estimates that most of this fraud will be as a result of stolen credit card numbers online and via mobile channels. The other types of fraud could include application fraud — stolen/hacked information used to open new credit card accounts and thirdly, account takeover, where hackers use compromised data to log into consumer and business accounts online and siphon funds from them.

When broken down by transaction, Javelin’s study states that the average loss amount for existing cards was $980 in 2015, while the average for new-account fraud — which accounts for 20 percent of all fraud losses — was $2,379.

It is hoped that EMV implementation will significantly reduce these figures. However, implementation has been a slow process so far, with approximately one-third of the nation’s retailers completing implementation as of December. This is a stark contrast to the amount of chip cards being issued – 65 percent of all U.S. credit cards and 33 percent of U.S. debit cards were issued with chips, as of June, according to creditcards.com. However, experts expect that once the majority of merchants (84 percent according to Javelin) make the switch in the next three to four years, card security problems typically associated with magnetic swipe cards will greatly diminish.

But wait, three to four years? Wasn’t the deadline October 2015?

WHAT HAPPENS IF YOUR BUSINESS OR KIOSK IS NOT EMV-COMPLIANT?

The deadline, or the EMV liability shift date, was October 1, 2015, just over one year ago. It marked the date instituted by the various card brands for merchants to upgrade their payment infrastructure to accept EMV chip cards to avoid liability for fraud from counterfeit cards made from EMV chip cards. The liability, which prior to the deadline was borne by the issuer of the card (i.e. the bank or credit union) now shifts to the merchant or operator, who will now be responsible for paying any chargebacks resulting from fraudulent activity. This is quite a huge change that could have great financial implications, but merchants were given ample notice of the impending shift which was announced in 2011.

It hasn’t been for lack of trying. Many retailers encountered issues trying to implement the technology, including “long lines to install and certify the software and equipment needed to process chips”, according to an article by Olga Kharif at Bloomberg Technology. This might have been due to many trying to adopt the technology close to or after the deadline date, which for some, might have been a decision made only after they had to pay chargebacks.

An article on KioskMarketplace.com cited statistics from the State of Retail Payments 2016 Study by the National Retail Federation and Forrester Research which “reported that 57 percent of merchants have installed EMV equipment, but cannot enable it because they still are awaiting system certification. Of those, 60 percent have been waiting six months or longer.”

However, at the time of Kharif’s article, written earlier this year, Visa announced that “it was simplifying its equipment-certification process and changing its chargeback policies to reduce liability faced by merchants who haven’t yet moved to accept chip cards.” The article also stated effective July 22, Visa would “block all counterfeit-card chargebacks under $25” and by October would allow “banks to charge back only 10 counterfeit transactions per account, and will require them to assume liability for all transactions thereafter.”  The $25 chargeback limit is temporary, and is set to expire in April, 2018.

credit card

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO AS A BUSINESS OWNER, KIOSK MANUFACTURER OR OPERATOR

Merchants and operators shouldn’t be disheartened or overwhelmed. The Ingenico Group’s blog titled, The EMV Fraud Liability Shift Date Has Passed: Is It Too Late for Me? lists the following steps needed for a business to become EMV-compliant:

  1. Invest in EMV-enabled smart payment terminals, mPOS solutions or kiosks. Consideration should be given to current hardware deployment, store count, POS capability and sales volume. Changes to current hardware and software may be required to support the new system. The installation process could take as long as four to five months for setup, including training of staff and beta testing.
  2. Become EMV-certified by EMVCo and the credit card issuers from which your store will accept payments. The certification process could take several weeks to several months to complete depending on the size and complexity of the business.                                                               The certification process takes merchants through three levels:                                                       – Levels 1 and 2 focus on certifying payment equipment (hardware and software)                           – Level 3 (completed by the acquirer for some smaller businesses) involves end-to-end certification and covers conduct between the merchant and card brand.                                 Many kiosk providers are now building EMV-compliant kiosks, making it much easier for operators. Businesses interested in purchasing a kiosk can also stipulate it as a requirement to their kiosk provider. Businesses all over are taking the steps necessary to become compliant – “70 percent of U.S. consumer credit cards now have chips, and 76 percent of the 200 biggest merchants are able to accept them.” However, the EMV migration process has been slower for smaller merchants, according to MasterCard.

STILL DAUNTED?

The easiest way for businesses to start the process of compliance is to find a technology partner or expert they can trust. At SlabbKiosks, we have partnered with the Ingenico Group to ensure that we can provide our customers with EMV-enabled kiosks through their Unattended Partner Program. The program works with kiosk providers, system integrators, value-added solution providers and gateway providers to enable acceptance of all payment methods while delivering secure, EMV and NFC-enabled unattended self-service solutions. They also provide seamless payment solutions and can take any company through the steps required to ensure they become EMV-compliant.

Chip card technology is by no means a panacea for credit card fraud, as it currently doesn’t address the type of fraud that occurs when credit card transactions are done via phone or online. That’s why it is important to always check your credit card statements for fraudulent activity every month. Many technology partners, such as Ingenico Group, recommend additional security measures such as tokenization – a technology that eliminates the need for retailers to store sensitive data on their network. It is the technology used by Apple Pay and Android Pay. Some credit card companies also offer their own versions. Some experts believe that two factor verification systems might be the solution when checking out of online retail sites or possibly an online form of EMV. However, for now, we have seen what EMV technology can do and it will become more effective if widely adopted. It is a step in the right direction, that everyone must take.

 

Driving BLUE to Orlando HIMSS 2017

Mike Masone - Sales Director, SlabbKiosks

Mike Masone – Sales Director, SlabbKiosks

This article was originally published on LinkedIn

BLUE CAR EFFECT – “the phenomenon by which you don’t notice how many blue cars are on the road until you buy a blue car yourself.

I felt a shift this year at HIMSS.

Instead of: “WOW AWESOME – how does it work”; I heard: “This is the way forward.” Even at our booth, we got a lot less “whats” and “whys” and more “hows” and “whens”.

The EMR silos are flattening – AllScripts and EPIC were further opening up their systems to third-party innovation. Meanwhile VMWare guest speakers were giving away simple security steps. Steps necessary to prevent you and your company from becoming one of the actors in their Tales of Security Failures . Lax data security policies and ‘normal’ human behavior present an open door for digital n’er do wells leading to much more than last years corn-crop the coming world of flattened silos.

Hertz CheckeredFlag Collection

Hertz CheckeredFlag Collection

Blue Cars – Everything is different in a new car. We have built our own blue car. Self Service Group provides tools to support the growth and maintenance of Self Service deployments, in any industry. 80% of our customers had the same two requirements for growth:

  • No CapEx
  • No new Employees

From this: 5 Year Kiosk Project Cost = (~30K SW Development & Integration) + [($10K Hardware) +(~$1K delivery & Install)+(9%/yr-warranty)]+(1 FTE/200 kiosks) or ($187-48 hour service call)

To this: 5 Year Kiosk Project Cost = $325/kiosk/month

Here’s to the Gas Pedal!

Our Year of Kiosks 2016

2017 has started off with such a blast, that again, we’ve found ourselves late with our traditional Our Year of Kiosks blog for yet another year. But I promise it is with good reason and you’ll see the recap in Our Year in Kiosks 2017 blog, when that time comes. (*wink, wink)

OEM site - usakiosks.com

OEM site – usakiosks.com

Last year also started off in a similar vein, with the launch of another kind – our site dedicated to showcasing our OEM solutions – usakiosks.com. The site was launched in January and features some of our customized kiosk units that were designed for clients in various industries including automated retail solutions, self-checkout solutions, healthcare solutions, locker systems and much more. The creation of the site was in response to a new industry trend which has seen an increase of automated vending kiosks used as engagement touchpoints that either complement a company’s physical locations or completely replaces them. It is a relatively new niche in the kiosk market space that doesn’t necessarily replace the traditional kiosk but offers a blend of both kiosk and vending machine components, resulting in larger, multi-functional units for businesses/industries that require such self-service solutions.

X11 - Medical Self-service and Payment Kiosk

X11 – Medical Self-service and Payment Kiosk

One of our OEM solutions was also showcased at one of the largest healthcare tradeshows – HIMSS. The event was held in our own backyard – Las Vegas and brought together more than 40,000 healthcare industry professionals to learn about and discuss health IT issues and view innovative solutions designed to transform healthcare. It was our first time exhibiting at the event and we were happy to share the experience with our partners Crane Payment Innovations (CPI), Patientway and CityBase. We were also excited to introduce a first-of-its-kind medical self-service and payment kiosk, the X11. This kiosk allows patients to register/check in for appointments as well as submit co-payments or pay for medical visits, all at one machine. It is a move away from the norm of a healthcare kiosk that only provides self-check in services.

 

IngenicoThe provision of easy-to-use, convenient payment facilities, seemed to be one of our themes for the year, as we became a member of Ingenico Group’s Unattended Partner Program, allowing us to offer our customers EMV-enabled unattended payment devices. The demand for EMV-enabled devices has and continues to increase as the deadline to ensure EMV compliant payment systems was October, 2015, making operators and businesses liable for fraudulent activity after that date. The Program was designed to facilitate integration among partners allowing them to offer turnkey unattended solutions for a wide variety of uses with secure EMV and NFC payment acceptance built in. It is a great ‘fit’ for our company as it provides unparalleled support, by making in-house engineering and support personnel available to our customers, while allowing us to offer our clients the latest payment methods, including Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Many of the initiatives we introduced throughout the year were all in an effort to provide a wide range of options and services to our clients. These initiatives could only be supported by dedicated and experienced staff and we realized with our growing client base that we also needed to expand our team. We were happy to welcome Rick Kobal and Ron Graves to the SlabbKiosks family.

Rick worked with one of the largest component suppliers for the industry for the past five years before joining SlabbKiosks and acquired an in-depth understanding of the industry’s dynamics Presentation1including changes in end user requirements that have inevitably propelled hardware development. He has and continues to prove to be a great asset to the sales team.

Ron has extensive sales experience, gained from working in this field for the past fifteen (15) years. He is also no stranger to the kiosk industry, having spent five (5) years working with Fortune 500 clients, as well as, local, state, and federal government agencies to assess, deploy and manage their various kiosk projects. This provided him with in-depth knowledge of technological advances and new trends within the industry and has made his move to SlabbKiosks a natural fit.

It was not a bad way to end the year and judging from how this year is starting, we’re looking forward to letting you know about many other milestones in the SlabbKiosks journey.

Judicial Efficiency through the use of self-service kiosks

Our client, Minnesota’s largest trial court, was looking for replacement kiosks to be used as a part of their Public Defender Eligibility program. Here’s how we assisted…

Download the pdf: Judicial efficiency with self-service kiosks

SlabbKiosks Today

We wrote a blog about two years ago, giving a brief history about our company and some of the kiosk models we offer. Unbelievably, a lot has changed in just two years. We have re-branded (not too far from our original name), to SlabbKiosks and have since expanded our product line. Just these few changes made me realize that maybe it’s time we updated the blog to provide some more current information.

Some of our newer models

Since starting off as an internet-based kiosk retailer in 2002, we have continuously worked to offer the most effective hardware manufacturing and kiosk installation service in the market. We can now proudly say that after more than a decade, we are currently represented in six continents. We’ve worked with many clients in various industries including the government sectors, national universities and colleges, famous casinos, leading financial institutions and healthcare providers with a successful track record that guarantees the satisfaction of our corporate customers as well as the end users of our products. In a nutshell, it’s hard to believe, but we have achieved, 20 years of kiosk manufacturing for 1000s of clients in over 150 countries in 6 continents across 22 industries…

Here’s how it all adds up. Since getting into the kiosk industry, our company has continuously looked for ways to enhance our products and services, by offering the latest in technological advancements. We use high-quality components and create designs that are functional, attractive and that facilitate quick and efficient maintenance. Our production facilities allow us to provide highly customized, ADA-compliant kiosks within a 4-6-week lead time, one of the shortest lead times in the industry.

from website

Our kiosk line includes a variety of kiosk designs, interactive digital signage options and through our recently launched brand, USAkiosks – OEM kiosk solutions. Customers can choose from our extensive line of kiosk models and have them customized to suit their needs. Our models consist of:
• Freestanding
– C Series
– X Series
• Interactive Signage
• Outdoor
• Wall Mount
• Countertop

We offer our clients:
• Free quotes and renderings
• A choice of high quality, well-designed standard kiosk models or highly customized OEM units
• A collaborative consultation process that seamlessly takes clients from planning to production
• Dedicated production lines that facilitate mass customization
• No engineering charges
• Competitive pricing
• One of the shortest lead times in the industry
• On time delivery of fully operational units at client’s location of choice
• Experienced and responsive staff with over 40 years of combined experience in self-service.

Intrigued? Learn more at www.slabbkiosk.com.

Pascal’s Wager – Quality and Costs

Mike Masone - Sales Director, SlabbKiosks

Mike Masone – Sales Director, SlabbKiosks

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Pascal was what you would consider a pretty clever fellow despite the fact that he had nothing to do with Kiosks or Self Service.

At 16 he flapped the unflappable Rene’ Descartes with a mathematics paper he published countering some of RD’s assertions.

By age 20 he created a calculator to help his father sort out regional tax records…pretty simple feat today, in the 1640s…not so much!

He also invented the syringe and hydraulic press…why not, those are handy to have around.

Pascal

Later in life Pascal became a devout (even for France) Catholic which went a bit against the grain for a man of his occupation at the time. He explained his position with all of the spirituality you would expect from such a pragmatist and in the process pretty much invented decision theory:

god exists

Clearly defining risk, reward, and their interplay and its application to behavior was revolutionary. With infinite stakes any risk is too high.

Similar logic applied to customer facing tech gives us:

customers care

Eternal Commercial Damnation or Bliss is decided by only one god – the customer. The question becomes at what fraction of cost is it worth risking the wrath of a whole customer?

Cheaper is always available and is by definition incrementally less expensive. Your customer may not care or notice that you are spending less on their experience, then again, you may not find out until it is too late or not at all.

Remember, there are no unhappy customers…they just leave, they don’t tell you why, or even show you why…they simply cease being your customers and move on to the next option.

In every game, you must know what the stakes are before deciding on a strategy. When it comes to cost cutting, money isn’t what is at stake – Customers are.

Reach out with any questions, issues, insights, and especially disagreements. Monsieur Pascal would appreciate it!

A Few ABC’s of OEM Kiosks

“If you want to be truly successful invest in yourself to get the knowledge you need to find your unique factor. When you find it and focus on it and persevere your success will blossom.” Sydney Madwed.

 

I think the same can be said for business success as well – every organization should find their ‘unique factor’, focus on it and nurture it, in order to be successful. We’ve seen this work time and time again. Apple, Facebook, Amazon and so many more other successful companies. The common thread with them all is that each have a unique business proposition that they continue to improve on daily.

 

The same can apply to the kiosk industry. There is still definitely a need for standard models, but the success for businesses that utilize kiosks, is in how it is customized. It is an important factor to ensure that the kiosk not only achieves the goals of the business, but also the needs of the customers/end users of the kiosk. It’s one of the reasons that the industry is seeing a chage or a ‘merging’, so to speak, of the traditional kiosk with the traditional vending machine, resulting in unique units or what the industry terms as OEM kiosk solutions.

 

A recent article on KioskMarketplace.com, titled Vending kiosks: the latest trends cited “new kiosks [that] are offering products that range from cars to cannabis”. It’s considered new because many of these products were never sold via machines. This means that the kiosks being created to facilitate self-service sales must be uniquely designed to accommodate these products while ensuring that the kiosks can be easily used by consumers.

 

Self-Checkout OEM Kiosk

Self-Checkout OEM Kiosk

OEM or custom solution kiosks allow organizations to get a kiosk that is built to suit their specific requirements as opposed to a standard kiosk that is reconfigured as best as possible to perform specific functions. Because these designs are unique they often cost more than a standard kiosk. Despite this, many organizations choose to purchase custom solutions, because it ensures that it accommodates or delivers a specific product or service in a more convenient way. Most would agree that the unit ultimately pays for itself, as end users now have a self-service option to purchase products they never could via this means, before. It enhances their service experience, resulting in increased use of the unit.

 

Automated Vending Kiosk

Automated Vending Kiosk

We continue to see a few of these OEM units in the retail industry, so that traditional brick-and-mortar stores or online retailers can extend their physical presence at locations where a physical store might not have been feasible or cost effective such as at indoor shopping malls, airports and many other high-traffic locations. The accessibility of the units, coupled with the growing trend of customers embracing self-service technology, make these units a great alternative for many businesses.

 

ReduceReuseRecycle-Educational-1-220x300

Recycling Kiosk

The retail industry is not the only one adopting this new technology. Many educational facilities use units to provide printing facilities for students, or administrative management services coupled with wayfinding applications, allowing for a multi-purpose unit. The healthcare industry also uses wayfinding units that may also provide check in or registration services.

 

 

The beauty of these units is that they can be customized to provide locker systems or be placed outdoors, or for payment, printing or self-checkout services. They also incorporate many of the new technologies including EMV capabilities and biometric verification including fingerprint scans and signatures. The units allow businesses to use customized software or applications to provide precise functionality along with the appropriate components that ultimately will determine the size and dimensions of the kiosk. The financial investment and time taken to create these unique units may be substantial, making it extremely important for businesses to choose the right kiosk provider that is able to work collaboratively with them from concept to creation.

Tax Nexus – Everybody’s Elephant in the Room

Mike Masone - Sales Director, SlabbKiosks

Mike Masone –   Sales Director, SlabbKiosks

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

Six years ago a huge online sales company had a plan where I would build kiosks for them to collocate in physical stores across the country to act as a sort of “endless aisle”.

I flew over for a meeting to review some of the pilot programs that had been showing success. One of the VPs asked me whether a kiosk in-store would generate Nexus. After a moment of hesitation I informed him, in no uncertain terms, that I had no idea what he was talking about and would get him an answer.

I assumed we had an easy answer internally – there was not. I assumed there was something to be had on Google – there was not.

The best I was able to do was to track down an interstate sales tax firm and discuss the issue with them. I was lucky enough to run into Brian Greer at Tax Connex.

tax nexus

He spent several hours with me working through some issues specific to kiosks, online business, automation, and specifically which cases were pending and keeping the tax forces at bay. The result of these conversations was a whitepaper we published on the matter….where is the link you ask? NO LINK FOR YOU! In this short time the law has changed in fundamental ways. The paper is wrong, as is a lot of the ‘advice’ floating around out there.

Amazon is no longer providing cover through resistance and litigation. The line between what is and isn’t ‘presence’ can change with a single purchase. This is a dynamic area of the law with immediate and significant consequences.

Understanding the nuance of tax law and compliance is not a part time job.

Brian and Tax Connex have the best information and experience out there. Please read their site and posts, try their surveys, consult with them if confused. Just don’t ignore it.

HIMSS Review Part 1 aka Hey Isn’t Money Something Serious?

Mike Masone - Sales Director, SlabbKiosks

Mike Masone -Sales Director, SlabbKiosks

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

I’ve had a full week to recover from the recent HIMSS 2016 conference. We made a lot of visitors to the booth uncomfortable because we talked about the two dirtiest things in healthcare MONEY and EFFICIENCY.

Today is MONEY.

Read this article…Welcome back.

Consumers generate 3.6 trillion dollars in healthcare expenses.
15% of the US working population have no access to ‘accounts.’
This means that at minimum over 500 billion dollars of care is being delivered to people with no ability to pay electronically.
We know these patients as customers. We service them in several other industries.

Members of this group are euphemistically referred to as the cash-preferred, working poor, un-banked, under-banked.
In reality they are the over-exploited, under-served, the marginalized.

They are well aware of this fact. They aren’t happy about it.
No matter what happens in November (TheHer, TheHair, or TheWayTooFair) neither the needs nor plight of this group will change significantly.
They will look at you as another data point in a repeating series of demeaning problems or a refreshing solution. Regardless of what you choose, they are coming through your door.
How they leave is up to you.

Here is a quick intro on how their finances typically work:

  1. Generate monthly expenses
  2. Work
  3. Get handed payment
  4. Convert handed payment to usable form (3-7% loss) – Cash Check, buy money orders with, reload prepaid card with cash
  5. Pay monthly expenses
  6. Generate non-monthly expense
  7. Pay non-monthly expense at time of service – cash or check
  8. Work more
  9. Repeat

To the rev-cycle people:

Where are you in this cycle? Where do you want to be?*
If you are taking counter payments, are your transactions with these folks really a net positive?
Counter transactions at utilities clock in at $6-12 per transaction.
This addresses the costs of employee time required for – greeting, lookup, average time of discussion, hand-offs and goodbyes typical in utility payments.
The issue with healthcare is that every payment is a discussion, a reschedule, a medication question, a something.
Your FTE cost may be lower but the time per transaction is likely higher.
With all of this in mind…is a counter payment – cash, check, or otherwise actually a net-positive for your organization?

mr profitsTo the medical people:

Physical MONEY is dirty, very dirty, tucked who-knows-where dirty. It isn’t the only offender – Pens and clipboards are grimy so are doorknobs…add money to the mix though and there is a perfect storm brewing for secondary infections.
Think of the process of reaching your hand into your pocket after touching the grimy stuff…did you sanitize your hand? Great! How about your pocket where you’ll soon be jamming your hand again? How about the last guy who was at the counter, placed his sweaty hand right where yours now sits?
It is enough to unleash the Howard Hughes in any of us.

Would you ever hold a dollar bill or handful of coins before touching a patient?*

MONEY as a tool is scary when you feel like you have no control over it….what will you do when you can’t pay your bill, how about your child’s?
Medicine or Rent? Is it ‘worth’ the money to get the care? Will it be fine? Will anyone see the scar, will it matter? Will you sacrifice your own health for something your family needs? Does your blood pressure go up? Do you feel even more helpless? Do you turn your fear to resentment and anger? How does your family react?
Do you carry this into your doctor? White-coat Hypertension has a name. What do we call this other thing?* Co-pay-co-morbidity, helplessness-hypertension, no-choice nausea?

What is the best way to understand, quantify, and address these concerns for healthcare?
We don’t bother…we don’t know…we probably can’t know with any certainty…if we did come up with an answer or insight it would at best be an egg
looking for a chicken, at worst a disease looking for a cure.

Instead we Try.

What we do know is how these same people react when companies make things a little easier.
Make it easy for people to pay, and they do.
Make it easy to promise to pay, and they will.
Nobody wants to be a deadbeat…especially not the working poor, they prove it every day by going to work when not working would get them a bigger check.
We have seen it repeatedly…..give these people a means to maintain their dignity and they will not disappoint you.
If they can’t pay, give them a way to plan to pay.
Offer them a deal or schedule, or a simple, shame-free way to sit and meet with someone to work through this most difficult and personal problem.
No matter who they are, patients are usually genuinely thankful for their care.
My guess is the perpetually marginalized are even more thankful. In no other part of their lives are they using the same services as the best off of us are.

What makes people seem ungrateful, unhappy, and angry is all of the crap** associated with the service.
Separate your people, staff and your corporate identity from the crap.
Why make a human employee be the bearer of bad news or the taker of money.
Why perpetuate an inherently adversarial condition.
Let a machine do it, let the machine be the bad guy, let the machine ask for payment, let the machine deny the request. Let the machine be confrontational all day long and not get a migraine or get burned out or snap.

Let your employees, smile, understand, correlate, and solve the problems; exercise their humanity with the human who needs their help.
Leave the money, confrontation, monotony and messaging to the machine. It is what they excel at, what we create them to do.

Of course there are always bad actors, patients, and customers, but if we let them inform policy or commercial decisions then we have given up and collectively decided to bury something important in all of us.
The something that makes us human the something that got us into healthcare …empathy…the care part.

*All questions are non-rhetorical. Please add to the discussion.
**Highly technical term understood by all.

You can message me privately if you would like me to edit / credit something I missed.

Commenting below is fine but keep it a-political there is plenty of ‘discourse’ available to anyone who wants it.

If you would like me to send you a report on the un-banked send me a note and I’ll forward it to you. There are some good reports out there.

Interestingly there is a gap between un-banked and cash-preferred…no perfect explanation, it is just there.

Our Year of Kiosks 2015

“The present defines the future. The future builds on the foundation of the past.”Lailah Gifty Akita

 
Already this year is promising to unfold just as fast as last year. It’s almost the end of January and due to the feverish pace that has already begun, we’re late with our traditional “Year of Kiosks” blog which is usually our first blog at the beginning of the year.
It’s something we started doing because we believe it’s always good to pause from our busy schedules, take a deep breath and review what we have done – what was done well and the things we could have done differently, all in an effort to learn and move forward, doing things even better than before. Successes also act as a motivator and keep us striving for even bigger and better achievements and 2015 was a good year for SlabbKiosks.

 
Making the Change

Avanti Markets Banner

 

That statement in itself, highlights one of the major changes that took place for our company and depicts the very essence of looking back, reviewing, adjusting and moving forward. It is one of the reasons we chose to make the change from Slabb to SlabbKiosks. Despite already having the name recognition as Slabb, we decided that SlabbKiosks better defined our brand and product offering while ensuring that we continued to benefit from the Slabb name which had become well-known in the kiosk industry.

 

SlabbKiosks Logo

The new SlabbKiosks logo

The change included a new website and a new logo which both incorporate our new brand colors – grey, green and blue and depicts three cubes which represent the three factors that are crucial for any successful kiosk deployment – hardware, software and implementation/post production.

 
Even though change is usually hard, we believe our rebrand was well received and certainly didn’t affect the number of projects we had for the year. Many of these are still being rolled out, due to the vast volumes involved and we hope to share more about them upon their completion later on this year. But here are two that we were happy to be a part of.

 
TriMas Corporation’s Employee Benefits Kiosks
We provided kiosks for the TriMas Corporation which is headquartered in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and employs approximately 4,000 employees at more than 50 facilities in 16 countries. It was no surprise then, that they were seeking an effective solution for their Benefits program, particularly for their employees with limited kiosk access.

 

TriMas Corp's Employee Center

TriMas Corp’s Employee Health & Wellness Resource Center

The six (6) customized X7 kiosks are used to provide online health management programs along with other employee services with two additional units which will also be included as part of their Employee Health and Wellness Resource Center. The kiosks allow employees to make benefit elections and view important benefit documents, review online health plan resources, including claims and Explanation of Benefits documents, compare medical plan and prescription drugs costs and look up participating providers, as well as many other human resource services.

 

Education Service Center, Region 20
We provided six (6) customized kiosks for the Education Service Center, Region 20, a non-regulatory agency with a collaborative and supportive relationship with the school districts that provides the learning community with high quality, cost effective products and services. The Center is one of 20 regional education service agencies within Texas which assist school districts in improving student performance and increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of school operations.

 

Kiosks at ESC20

Kiosks at ESC20

The Center was looking for a solution that would offer their clients online access, but one which would provide a more efficient, faster way for workshop participants to review emails and register. The kiosks provide a more effective alternative to the computers which were used in the past, because they don’t encourage longer usage times. It means that there are now fewer clients missing important information provided in class sessions and increase in the overall number of clients being served.

 

OEM Solutions

Automated Vending Kiosk

Automated Vending Kiosk

We also expanded our product line to provide a more extensive range of OEM solutions in cluding automated retail. Some of our projects included Automated Vending Kiosks for an online hair and skin care retail business to extend their reach by providing physical retail touchpoints. The kiosks were outfitted with a customized touchscreen interface allowing users to select the products they wish to purchase, just as they would online. A merchandise window was also included to provide an attractive display of the products. The units will be available at high-traffic indoor shopping malls.

 

Locker Unit

Locker Unit

We designed a customized locker unit for a medical center to better manage the use of the center’s vehicle fleet. The kiosks will be able to scan IDs, track mileage and other maintenance requirements. These will be used as prompts to open the individual lockers and will be accessed by employees that operate the company vehicles.

 

There are many more customized units we have and continue to design. We can’t review every project, but we definitely kept busy with the many we had for the year. This year is proving to be no different, as we have already hit the proverbially ‘ground’ running, starting with the launch of our OEM Solutions website, something we think is important to showcase as we continue to expand our product line.

 
This is only the beginning…Literally and figuratively…So make sure the laces on your sneakers are tied, as we have, and join us for a year that we’re sure will keep us moving sometimes at a jog and sometimes at a sprint, but steadily forward. Look out for the great things in store, all of which we will be happy to review with you again this time next year.

Kiosks and Parole

Mike Masone - Sales Director at SlabbKiosks

Mike Masone – Sales Director at SlabbKiosks

This was originally posted on LinkedIn by our Sales Director, Mike Masone.

Here is a great read from New Republic – The Worrying Rise of Automated Parole

I spoke at length with the Michael Thomsen about kiosks in general and specifically kiosks in the post-release environment.

Regardless of whichever side of the issue you fall don’t miss these takeaways:

  1. Don’t be afraid to go it alone – Self or state managed kiosks cost about 1/4 as much as vendor managed kiosks. That number is a bit of an oversimplification as there are lots of moving pieces however cost savings are substantial and our kiosks for the Arkansas were significantly less than $7000 as were all of the submitted bids from other vendors.
Arkansas Department of Corrections kiosks

Arkansas Department of Corrections kiosks

2. Get the right people involved – Arkansas also had the advantage of a great relationship with their existing Offender Management Systems provider Marquis Software. Marquis was critical during the bid process and continues to be during the implementation process. Not every state will have this advantage. We pride ourselves on helping organizations leverage existing assets and relationships not fight against them.

3. No job is too important for a kiosk – Cupcake kiosks are cute, and check-in kiosks are handy but neither is critical to people’s freedom or way of life. Of course there have been bumps in the road and there are more obstacles to overcome with offender management kiosks. However, the fact remains that whatever the task is, a well designed and executed kiosk implementation will provide services in a quantity and quality not possible with any other method. I’m proud to be part of the solution.

Give it a read and sound off in the comments, I’m interested to hear where we fall on this issue collectively.

Mind the Air Gap – Part 2

Mike Masone - Sales Director at SlabbKiosks

Mike Masone – Sales Director at SlabbKiosks

We’re happy to share the second part of an interesting article by our Sales Director, Mike Masone – Mind the Gap – Part 2. The article was originally published on LinkedIn.

 

 

 

Gravity LessonsIn the last post I discussed the importance of an air gap for security and anonymity.

Of course nothing is free, and that security comes at the cost of data exchange & collection. Anonymity is good, unless it is your customers who are unknown to you!

Don’t let your customers fall into the air-gap and out of your electronic systems.

Companies sometimes ‘solve’ this issue by creating a mobile app for customers to use. Unfortunately, customers aren’t leaping to install un-trusted apps on the most important possession many of them have just for your benefit.

We want to hold the customers by the hand and take baby steps that benefit both parties. Of course it would be great if customers installed an app that gave you unfettered access to their digital world but that happens less and less as users become more savvy and retake their privacy. This holds especially true at the start of your relationship with them.

Putting ‘apps’ aside we have seen one strategy most adopted and successful. It requires a bit of back and forth with your customer and requires a piece of technology from each of you, a good start to your relationship.

  • You provided customer a code to scan – such as QR from a micro site or printed a bill,coupon, or off of a website. An ID can be scanned to start the process for unknown customers.
  • Customer takes the action of scanning that code on your kiosk.
  • Your kiosk screens lead the customer through the desired process on the kiosk.
  • Optional – You provide the customer another scannable code via SMS or printout to close the transaction.
  • Customer uses that code on their next transaction.

You, them, you, them this back and forth will build trust if done correctly. Using the right equipment will ensure that this process is fool proof and efficient which is important as well. USB cameras are cheaper but lack the performance, flexibility, and upgradability of dedicated scan engines. When possible, we use high quality dedicated scan engines from Dolphin Data Capture for many of our projects, leveraging their expertise especially during software development is important.

Maintaining some distance between you and your customers isn’t a bad thing as long as you have a mechanism in place to lead them through the steps you need to take together to build a stronger relationship.

Mind the Air Gap – Part 1

Mike Masone - Sales Director at SlabbKiosks

Mike Masone – Sales Director at SlabbKiosks

Here’s another great article by our Sales Director, Mike Masone that was originally shared on LinkedIn. Make sure to look out for Part 2!

 

 

mind the air gap

Air Gap – I had never heard the term until 4 years ago when a cryptocurrency proponent researching kiosks was nice enough to sit with me and explain why bitcoin or one of its ilk had such value to the world.

What I gleaned and, have shamelessly repeated, is that remaining disconnected is the only strategy that ensures that data in a system is secure. In the case of my new friend, his enviable horde of BTC was all stored on a stand alone network. The gleam in his eye made me wonder whether or not he does the Scrooge McDuck money dive into his server room every morning. I finally got it Bitcoin made it possible to store and manage liquid value on a stand alone network. If I had gotten it a year sooner, I would be writing this post from my own island.

When the barriers to entry into most networks are not commensurate with the value of the data on the system, hacking these systems becomes very attractive. In the case of cryptocurrencies, the value is nearly liquid cash – Mt.GOX. In other cases the simple loss or exposure of loss of the data is enough to wipe out value from the system – TJX lost money, as did the banks and the consumers. In others still the data become the ore from which cash is mined through a more complex process like blackmail – Ashley Madison lost all credibility and its users are each suffering their own fate.

Ok then, air gap every important piece of data and everything is safe. Well yes, but that isn’t the world we operate in. In the case of cryptocurrencies a very small amount of data can be easily sneakernetted back and forth between connected and disconnected systems. The advantages of btc as a store of value are maintained and the environment supports that.

The air gap ensures privacy and security but at the expense of data exchange. A hospital that sees 300 patients per day and is faced with a mountain of poorly written or spoken data is a much different animal than my Scroogey new friend.

Understanding how to balance security and interoperability is critical to the success of any project, deployment, or initiative. In the next post I’ll discuss how some of our customers intelligently manage these issues in the self service world.

Make days fun by making spending easy!

This post was written by our Sales Director, Mike Masone and was originally shared on LinkedIn. We thought it was a great read. Let us know what you think and please feel free to share as well.

Mike Masone - Sales Director at SlabbKiosks

Mike Masone – Sales Director at SlabbKiosks

My family and I decided to use what could be the last of the nice fall weather and try to go apple picking this weekend. We weren’t sure where to go so we headed to the closest orchard the internet could find us-XYZ Farm, which was only about 30 minutes away.

At minute 27 we had a problem. Heavy traffic on small country roads is un-expected, un-planned traffic with a 5,3 & 3 year old is dangerous. So when things slowed down we threw the 67′ Spiderman DVDs on for the kids while my wife and I quietly debated our next move with limited information.

Luckily we were able to flag down a young couple on foot who informed us that we had wound up smack dab in the middle of the Season End Harvest Festival from XYZ Farm. They also informed us that the traffic was bad, for about a mile. We did the calculus that all parents are forced to do when plans go awry and determined (after spying the tops of a couple of bounce houses) that we should give it a shot…sunk costs and all. After all, we had made apple-delivery promises to family and the kids had now caught wind of the bounce (poor OpSec by me) and were now practicing their bounce moves against their seat belts.

After another 20 minutes in traffic and a quick run through the Mad Max – inspired parking field we found ourselves stridently converging on the festival area with the hundreds of other families who had procrastinated to our level.

As we walked in, every person we heard speak in passing echoed the same sentiment; “this is terrible, the lines are so long we can’t even spend money, let’s go.” Undeterred and of course better, smarter, and more patient than every other human there we pressed on.

The five of us arrived and decided to execute our standard divide and conquer plan. I stood in the long line with one child to buy tickets while my wife walked with the other two to find the best lines in which to stand to spend the tickets and maybe a candied apple or 4 to soothe the impatient children, and me, who can be quite childlike in those situations. She returned after 10 minutes to the exact spot she had left us and informed me that not only had none of the other lines moved, but that the candy apple line was long to the point of insanity.

Surveying the situation the only things we saw moving rapidly were the arms, hair, feet, eyes, and aging processes of the young, once-a-year cashiers and ticket takers who looked as though they had been pressed into service straight off of the school bus. They were trying, but they were not equipped to deal with the literally thousands of people bursting the place at the seams.

We decided to give up. Some quick math revealed that we would spend 45 minutes of the next hour standing in lines and only be able to spend about $10 on rides and maybe never even get fed. Relieved at our agreement, we took a walk to the sufficiently numerous though foul portapotties and then strolled by some pens to say hi to the chickens, goats, and other assorted farm creatures who were more shocked by the situation than the cashiers. We then got in our car, drove 10 miles down the road and spent $30 on fall ‘stuff’,another $20 on ice cream, and 30 perfect minutes sitting on a picnic table together.

I do my best to not let work-Mike over-analyze family-Mike’s time and experiences, especially as they are happening, because it makes both Mikes a bit crazy. 36 hours post-incident my mind continues to be boggled. The fact that the organizers didn’t take the small and simple steps necessary to help people spend money and have fun while keeping their employees and friends sane is disappointing. Things like :

  • Punched wristbands instead of taken tickets
  • Separate lines for cash or credit purchases
  • POS systems
  • Splitting cashiers up to keep the perception of line size minimal
  • Premium or all-ride passes
  • Food vending to the lines
  • Clear simple signage
  • Maybe, possibly, under the right conditions, if it is good idea, Kiosks

These things are simple, cheap, and almost always ‘worth it’.

It is true that not every venue wants to run with the efficiency & voraciousness of a LiveNation event and many businesses and individuals value tradition over efficiency; but failure of this venue to embrace simple, proven, techniques resulted in their 1000s of attendees not spending their $10-50 per/cap and forever eliminating XYZ farm list of possible fall traditions for years to come.

On the plus side, we have a new favorite Ice Cream place!

Soulless nature of kiosks may be a blessing in disguise after all…

We’ve featured a few articles in the past reviewing the often repeated fear that machines/robots/kiosks/insert any technologically advanced inanimate object will eventually take the jobs that are traditionally done by humans.

 
In our blog titled, Will Self-Service Kiosks Eventually Replace Humans?, we agreed with Martin Smith, Professor of Robotics at University of Middlesex, who aptly stated in an article by Rhiannon Williams, “Though many fear their jobs will be taken over by machines, it is more likely that robots will be used as assistants, and the future workforce could have the benefit of avoiding hazardous and repetitive tasks rather than suffer mass redundancies.”

 
But given recent developments in the news, we’re now left to wonder whether the inhuman element of say, a kiosk or robot, might actually prove beneficial. There are just some circumstances where emotion/personal beliefs should be set aside to provide the consumer what is their right by law. After all, a kiosk can’t ‘boycott’ providing a service because it doesn’t think it is morally right. Actually a kiosk might just be the solution we need to prevent personal convictions being subjected on a customer.

 
We once did a project for a County known for its inordinate number of weddings. Not surprisingly, they needed a solution that would provide a more efficient way to handle the numerous requests for certified copies of marriage certificates. We provided them with a kiosk that could do this, eliminating the need for their customers to engage county personnel for this repetitive task. The service has become so efficient that they recently installed several additional kiosks.

 
Just imagine if this could be done for other services, including marriage licenses. If so, we may not have had many of the discussions that have been taking place recently, with people on either side of the issue, as kiosks can be customized to ensure compliance to the law.

Self-Service Kiosks: A Valuable Human Resource Management Tool

We often hear about the fear of manual functions or services, traditionally performed by individuals, becoming redundant with the introduction of technological advances, including robots and self-service applications. One may wonder if this is truly a reality or just something akin to a conspiracy theory.

Recent developments in the quick service and fast casual restaurant (QSR) industry have not done much to allay these fears; with fast food giant, McDonald’s joining the ranks of Panera and others with the rollout of self-service kiosks. An article on bizjournals.com asked a similar question: Restaurants welcoming tablets, kiosks – will it cost jobs?. It was also a topic we covered last year in our blog: Will Self-Service Kiosks Eventually Replace Humans?. In our blog, we concluded with the paragraph:

As Martin Smith, Professor of Robotics at University of Middlesex, so aptly puts it in Ms. Williams’ article, “Though many fear their jobs will be taken over by machines, it is more likely that robots will be used as assistants, and the future workforce could have the benefit of avoiding hazardous and repetitive tasks rather than suffer mass redundancies.”

A great example of this is the increased use of human resource kiosks to assist in the effective management of employees and their data. These kiosks are not intended to replace the human resource function, but to assist in providing better access to and management of employees. The kiosks are usually used to provide some or all of the following:
• Company information and employee data
• Training Center
• Job Application Center
• Compliance with employment laws

The most common use of human resource kiosks is to provide employees with important and current information. It may include updates about what is happening with the company especially matters that may impact employees or their jobs. This information can be disseminated via the company intranet that can be securely accessed at the kiosk.
The kiosks also allow access to administrative forms including:
• Leave requests
• Employee manuals
• Insurance forms
• Benefits applications
• Stationery and equipment requests
• Non-urgent service requests
• Salary inquiries

Customize X7E HR Kiosk

Customized X7E HR Kiosk

It eliminates the need to have human resource employees dedicated to providing this information; instead these staff members can focus on more complex HR functions. Completion of these forms at the kiosk also ensures that employee information is always electronically updated and accessible. A great example of the use of human resource kiosks can be seen here.

It is also very important to remember that these kiosks which can be built to ensure durability, can be placed at any location, including factories and warehouses. It ensures that employees that are usually unconnected, due to the nature of their jobs and locations can also easily access information.

TriMas Corp's Employee Center

TriMas Corp’s Employee Health & Wellness Center

It is a great way to keep these workers up-to-date with their online training requirements as online modules can also be provided at the kiosk. Employees can register for traditional training classes, as well, by accessing the schedules, times and locations of training sessions that are most convenient for them to attend. It is something that is often overlooked by businesses that usually provide this information via emails which are not accessible to employees without computer workstations or via office notice boards which can easily be bypassed or overlooked. We recently completed a project to provide kiosks for a company’s Employee Health and Wellness Resource Center. Read more about it here.

Another great benefit of human resource kiosks is that although traditionally used internally for current employees, they can also provide a more efficient way to accept job applications. These applications can then be accessed online by the human resource department and stored electronically, eliminating the need for excess paperwork and storage. The kiosks can also provide information about the company or current events to potential candidates, with the use of optional overhead screens.

Human Resource departments require precise processes and systems and by law must ensure the confidentiality of employee or job applicants’ information. Kiosks allow them to provide secure, guided and self-service access of HR services to current and potential employees.

The availability of HR Guidelines as well as information related to labor laws, unions, safety, insurance and taxes at the kiosks, automatically ensures that companies are complying with employment laws and standards by informing employees of their individual benefits and rights. It’s one of the many benefits that human resource kiosks provide. But let us not forget that they also increase the productivity levels of human resource staff, reduce costs, enhance recruitment and improve employee performance.

How Kiosks Make Our Daily Lives Easier – Part 3

This is the third and final installment of our series on How Kiosks Make Our Daily Lives Easier. If this is the first you’ve seen of this, you can read Part 1 and Part 2 on our website.

Today, we will consider the value of using Government Kiosks, Advertising Kiosks and Interactive Signage.

Government Kiosks
Government kiosks are often used to facilitate a more efficient execution of administrative services, such as document requests or payment of fines, tickets, bills, taxes, etc. Prior to the use of kiosks, accessing these services would often result in standing in long lines or spending more than one day to complete the transaction. It was a process that most people usually endured as the alternative (ignoring monies owed to the government or not having pertinent documents in your possession) would be a high price to pay.

Customized X6 Clark County Kiosk

Customized X6 Clark County Kiosk

The drive and need for more efficient systems, as well as budget constraints that have resulted in reduced staffing, has led to innovative solutions, including the use of kiosks to provide what should be straightforward services. A great example of the positive effect of kiosk usage is a project we did in Clark County about two years ago that is still being utilized today. The kiosk was implemented to allow users to request certified copies of marriage certificates. The office has processed over 4,000 orders since the kiosk was introduced and has not only provided a more positive experience for customers and eliminated the need to engage county personnel for this repetitive task, but it has also generated over $81,000 gross resulting in a positive Return on Investment (ROI) in less than a year. You can learn more about this project here.

 

We have also provided corrections kiosks including prison kiosks that assist in providing a way to conduct commissary transactions within the prison system and parole kiosks which are utilized by corrections offices and allow selected minimum risk clients to check in with their probation officers at stipulated times throughout their supervision. Parole kiosks must include specialized software and components to ensure accurate identification and security standards. Components may include signature pads, fingerprint and card readers, as well as the software which would enable the recognition of the user’s fingerprint and capture their signature and photo. The kiosks also sometimes facilitate the receipt of payments. Learn more about corrections kiosks we have provided.

 

270120101669An extension of government kiosks are their administrative use at educational institutions. Education kiosks provide a secure, user-friendly platform for administrative management at schools and universities, including student registration, tuition payment as well as faculty and student updates. Many schools also use these self-service kiosks to make school processes more accessible to parents, while enhancing school security by using the units as check-in and check-out systems to keep track of students, as well as visitors.

One of our earlier projects included the installation of interactive signage in three different languages at Stoddert Elementary in Washington, D.C. The signage facilitated the school’s efforts to become more energy efficient. Since then, we have installed many types of kiosks and signage at educational institutions, each customized to address the specific needs of the school.

Advertising Kiosks and Interactive Signage
Advertising Kiosks and Interactive Signage can easily be considered the ultimate marketing tool in more ways than one. They not only allow companies to advertise and deliver content via their screens, but the kiosk can be physically branded to showcase a company or product using specific colors and logos.

Slabb's X10 Digital Signage

Slabb’s X10 Interactive  Signage

The advances in technology and the introduction of interactive signage now facilitates the input of data by customers to access additional information, or the manipulation of the image on the screen for a more in-depth, realistic look at a product’s features and benefits. Interactive screens facilitate easy navigation, using touch screen technology. The signage/kiosk, therefore is more than just a static sign or moving image, it becomes a tool that customers can manipulate to find the information they need, making it a great platform for searchable directories and wayfinding tools. The technology allows versatility across multiple industries for an enhanced user experience.
It is hard not to see the benefits this can provide to a business, especially to retailers that strive to provide their customers with an exclusive experience that showcases all the positive attributes of their brands. Some other benefits of the kiosks we highlighted today include:

 
• Reducing administrative duties and costs.
• More effective emergency management providing schools with an accurate headcount, if needed
• Providing additional information to customers that can be easily seen or accessed via an overhead screen when using the kiosk
• Printing of important documents including schedules, forms or grade sheets, campus maps
• ‘Topping up’ of smart cards thereby reducing the use of cash by students for school transactions
• Providing access to important documents including transcripts, identification (certificates, licenses, etc.)
• Facilitating and encouraging participation in surveys. Businesses and schools can obtain relevant information to provide future services
• Providing multiple uses as a payment, information, internet or advertising kiosk
• Enhancing the customer service experience
• Providing a positive Return on Investment (ROI)
• Decreasing wait times for customers
• Providing a great avenue for product marketing and company branding

 

We hope you enjoyed our three part series on the benefits that kiosks can provide. Kiosks can be used to provide a variety of services/solutions across various industries. Learn more.

How Kiosks Make Our Daily Lives Easier – Part 2

In our last blog post How Kiosks Make Our Daily Lives Easier – Part 1, we looked at some of the benefits of self-service kiosks, particularly:

  • Information Kiosks
  • Human Resource Kiosks
  • Retail Kiosks
  • Self-service Check In and Checkout Kiosks

Today, we will review some of the benefits of Printing Kiosks and Financial Kiosks.

Printing Kiosks
A printing kiosk is a self-service kiosk that is used with the sole purpose of receiving a printed product such as tickets, contracts or coupons. These kiosks are widely used in the travel industry as they can allow travelers to:

  • Purchase and print tickets or boarding passes
  • Find and print directions and/or coupons to tourist attractions
  • Print guides or information about activities and amenities for their vacation resorts
Kiosk Tax Office at an Airport

Kiosk Tax Office at an Airport

Another type of printing kiosk, that is not as well known, but often also used in the travel industry and elsewhere, is the contract kiosk. Contract kiosks are a great way to offer last minute travelers travel insurance. The units allow them to purchase and print insurance contracts right at the kiosk. These kiosks can also be used elsewhere including malls and other retail locations. Contract kiosks have also been provided as an option for the filing of taxes, and as with the insurance kiosks, can be found at several locations, including airports.

However, beyond the travel industry, self-service technology is being used as a convenient alternative for patrons and fans to purchase tickets to sporting events, concerts or the movies. They not only eliminate the need to stand in long lines, especially for popular events, but lower staffing and training costs for venue owners who may sometimes find it difficult to find staff for evening shifts. Ticketing kiosks, provide a useful crowd management strategy by creating multiple points of purchase.

X2 Coupon Kiosk

X2 Coupon Kiosk

Coupon kiosks provide a great way to reward loyal customers. They can be used solely to provide coupons or be customized as a loyalty kiosk providing loyalty card issuing and redemption services along with coupons. This allows operators to provide personalized coupons based on the cardholders’ shopping history. The coupons usually expire on the issue date which is an additional incentive to redeem them the same day. It’s a great way to provide savings for customers and encourage additional and future purchases.

Financial Kiosks

Financial Kiosks are probably the most widely used type of kiosk that enables the completion of transactions traditionally offered by financial institutions. These kiosk can be used to provide the following services:

  • Prepaid Credit/Debit Card Kiosks
  • Check Deposit Kiosks
  • Loan Kiosks
  • Bill Payment Kiosks
  • Donation Kiosks

Prepaid Credit/Debit Card Kiosks allow customers to purchase and activate debit or credit cards as well as add or top up funds on the card. It not only offers users an alternative to cash, but it provides a way for them to easily manage their funds, without the fear of overspending.

Transaction Kiosks typically provide banking services such as bill payment, check deposits, and loans.

Transaction 1Bill Payment Kiosks, as with most financial kiosks, allow any prominent service-based corporation such as banks, cable companies and even retail outlets to provide additional services to their clientele. Customers can pay their utility bills while shopping without standing in line and appreciate this fast and convenient method of making payments.  A bill payment kiosk can improve business through increased efficiency and overall customer satisfaction.

Payday Loan Kiosks provide an automated, self-service option for processing loans, providing a convenient, quick and efficient way for users to access cash advances.

Check Deposit Kiosks allow users to deposit checks without the assistance of a teller or customer representative. It is convenient way to avoid the long lines at the bank.

Transaction kiosks are a great way to add value and enhance customer service while increasing revenue.

Donation Kiosk

Donation Kiosk

Donation Kiosks, also known as giving kiosks or charity kiosks, allow members of a church or group or the general public to donate or contribute to their communities or charitable causes. Some organizations also use the kiosks to enroll members, provide information about community events or sell merchandise including books, CDs and DVDs, t-shirts, etc.  A recent article, Churches Gain Attendees, Money When Internet Is A Sanctuary looked at the way Impact Church of Atlanta uses technology, including kiosks, to encourage donations to and participation at the church.

 

There are many benefits to implementing Printing or Financial kiosks to a business, as they provide:

  • Secure online access
  • An enhanced customer service experience including decreased waiting time and shorter lines
  • An effective advertising platform
  • Value-added services
  • A positive Return on Investment (ROI) due to the additional source of revenue generated

These are just a few of the benefits. We will conclude Part 3 of this blog with a look at some of the services that can be provided by Government Kiosks, Advertising kiosks and Interactive Signage.

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.

 

 

Business Owners Continue to Benefit from Self-Service Kiosks

Self-service kiosks provide many benefits to businesses

Self-service kiosks provide many benefits to businesses

Last year we ended with a blog entry on the benefits of self-service kiosks, especially during the holiday rush (The Joy of Self-service Kiosks and Holiday Shopping). The article focused mainly on the benefits to customers, which should be the goal of any business – providing an enhanced service experience for their customers. However, on the ‘flip side’, self-service check out kiosks also have many benefits to business owners. We thought we would explore some of them in today’s blog.

 
Increased Customer Loyalty
Customers enjoy having a convenient, hassle-free shopping experience. This is even more crucial now with the advent of the various forms of technology that involve interactive self-service functions. Many shoppers are extremely familiar with these, to the point of expecting it as the norm for their shopping experience. Customers who value these services are more likely to shop at businesses that provide them with the convenience they seek, including self-service check out.

 

Knowledge is Power
Kiosks not only provide a straightforward checkout option, but they also provide a great opportunity for businesses to collect data on their customers. This can take the form of short surveys upon checkout or transaction statistics that provide purchase history for customers. This information can allow businesses to better forecast sales and create a more effective marketing plan by providing offers and incentives for particular products during a specific season or shopping period. Once permission is sought, the data can also be used to do further marketing to specific customers via emails or mail outs.
The kiosks can also be used to update customers on new merchandise, prices or general company information.

 

Cart abandonment isn’t only an e-commerce problem
We’ve heard about e-commerce sites having to deal with ‘cart abandonment’ – a situation where a potential buyer places items in their online shopping cart, but never proceeds to check out. The same can happen in a store, and many times the reason may be simply avoiding the hassle of long lines. A kiosk is a great start in preventing this, as they allowing customers to purchase their items in a more efficient way.

 

An additional advertising opportunity
What business does not appreciate any additional opportunity to advertise? Businesses can physically showcase their brand by using company colors and strategically placing their company logo on the kiosk unit, as well as have short ads playing via an overhead screen or on the kiosk’s main screen when not in use. It’s a great way to highlight the company’s products and services or provide company updates.

 

Simple implementation
Most importantly, kiosks are simple to implement, are cost effective and have low transaction fees. Kiosk management is also very straightforward and data can be accessed from any computer through an administrative portal.

 

Increased Return on Investment (ROI)
Kiosks eliminate the need to have a manned station, thereby reducing labor costs as well as overheads. Business owners can also increase their returns by providing additional services via the kiosk including online gift registries, loyalty card programs and an avenue to provide customer feedback or apply for vacant positions.

 

An article in businessbee.com highlighted the pros and cons of self-service checkout kiosks. In the article they cited statistics from Self Service World, which stated that “27,000 self-checkout terminals were shipped to businesses around the world in 2012. This growth is projected to steadily rise and 60,000 terminals will be shipped in 2018. Consequently, more businesses are choosing to integrate this system.”
This is no surprise, as over the years, more businesses have enjoyed and continue to appreciate the benefits of implementing self-service check out kiosks, while their customers benefit from the greatly improved service experience that they provide.

 

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.

Pay phones get a second life as internet kiosks

NYC pay phone (Photo courtesy phonearena.com)

NYC pay phone (Photo courtesy phonearena.com)

It’s interesting that we first came across this idea back in July 2013 when we wrote our blog In with Recycled Interactive Kiosks, Out With Red Phone Boxes. The story highlighted the repurposing of Britain’s iconic red phone boxes/booths for use as interactive kiosks with built-in Wi-Fi.

 

 
And now, New York City has announced the launch of the LinkNYC project that beginning next year, will transform the city’s pay phones to “Wi-Fi hot spots across the city, providing free Internet access, free domestic calls using cell phones or a built-in keypad, a charging station for mobile devices and access to city services and directions”, according to an article in the NY Times. They will also provide standard pay phone services including 311 information and 911 emergency hotlines.

 

 
It is hoped that this new offering, which will be available to the public, free of charge, will bridge the digital divide. Low income users whom may have previously relied on their cell phones to browse the internet, will now have access to what is being touted as “the fastest and largest municipal Wi-Fi network in the world.” It promises to be 20 times as fast as an average home internet connection.

 

 
It is expected that about 10,000 kiosks will be installed, allowing up to 250 devices on the network at any given time, without compromising service quality due to the Wi-Fi range which will extend 150 feet in any direction from the kiosk. Access points can also be added in high traffic areas. They won’t quite look like the traditional payphone, but will be sleek and tall – approximately 9.5 feet high and less than a foot wide with touchscreen interfaces.

 

 
According to Time.com the project is estimated to cost over $200 million. However, there is no additional cost to taxpayers, as advertising will be one of the key ways that the project will generate revenue. The kiosks will accommodate large digital advertising displays that could generate as much as $500 million over the next twelve years. The displays are a great medium for public service announcements in the event of an emergency or during major events.

 

 
It is a project that will provide many benefits to the City as it is not only expected to generate over 700 jobs (both full-time and support), but it is also a great step toward making the internet accessible to the public, an initiative that can be replicated around the world.

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.

Making the Choice: Micro-market Vs. the Traditional Vending Machine

There’s a new productivity trend developing. It might be considered an inevitable result of the increased demand on an employee’s time with the expectation of high productivity levels to ensure that deliverables are completed in a timely manner and to a preset standard. This new development is not ominous in any way, but actually quite practical. It’s called a micro market.

 

 

An Avanti Markets micro market

An Avanti Markets micro market

A search of the word may result in an economics-based definition, but the micro markets that continue to crop up in various work spaces can be described as a ‘convenience store at the office’, one that provides freshly prepared lunches, healthy snacks and drinks that employees can purchase. What makes micro markets so unique, is not only the convenience of an accessible and healthy lunch option, but the fact that they utilize a self-service model – one that relies on an ‘honor system’ where employees are expected to pay for their purchases with cash, credit or even via their cell phone without an attendant or cashier on-site.

 

 
So why a micro market vs a traditional vending machine? Brad Bachtelle of Bachtelle & Associates, in an article on vendingtimes.com stated it in one sentence – “We’ve created a new channel [that’s] driving more sales, pleasing customers and exciting our industry.” Research done by his firm predicts there will be approximately “13,000 micro markets on location by 2015 and 35,000 within a decade.” The number of micro market locations in 2012 (2,642 active locations with 2,724 active kiosks) represented a sales volume of $90.74 million. Micro markets are becoming a more lucrative investment opportunity because they provide additional benefits than the traditional vending machine:

 

 
• Micro markets tend to attract 18% more visits per day with an average of 1.2 sales per day per visit, as compared with 0.7 sales in a vending area. This figure may be higher depending on the location.

 

 
• The inventory management system is usually web-based, making inventory evaluation much easier, ensuring fresh inventory and up-to-date regulatory practices.

 
• Components can be customized to fit different locations which is a major selling point, especially when there are space limitations.

 

 

• It allows operators to focus on providing an enhanced customer experience with enticing layouts and products that will ultimately increase profits. Operators use retail tools and techniques to ensure the strategic placement of add-on purchase items near to the check-out kiosks.

 

 

• There is less maintenance and downtime of machines and the kiosks provide an easier transaction process especially for multiple items.

 

 

• There is also some pricing flexibility allowing operators to collect sales tax on items purchased unlike a traditional vending machine.

 

 

• The use of prepaid user accounts at micro markets represents a shift from the traditional vending model. Accounts are funded and money collected before goods are purchased which radically shifts the cash flow requirements of operators.

 

 

• Portions of these accounts can be funded by HR, Wellness, or other workplace programs with a mandate directed at healthy eating and increased productivity.

 

 

 

Loyalty programs can be incorporated at the micro market

Loyalty programs can be incorporated at the micro market

Micro market products are often priced higher than products found in a traditional vending machine. They are typically 15% to 20% higher, with sales tax added to that. Pricing is usually set to offset the cost incurred due to theft of items, product spoilage, and the additional equipment, software and supplies that are needed. However, many employers often provide their employees with cards that give subsidized prices for healthy food options – a small price to pay for great convenience.

 

 
So, “build it and they will come…” The benefits mentioned make it seem easy enough, but it takes a little more than that. There are a few elements that should be in place to be successful in the micro market business including:

 

 
• Products that are attractive to the customer – As a society we are more health conscious than ever and providing healthy, fresh food options, restocked daily is one way that micro markets set themselves apart from the traditional vending machine.
• The right layout – Most micro market operators can work with any space to provide a customized, attractive and functional setting that will make movement and payment within the location as easy as possible. Access to a power supply for the kiosk system, coolers and freezers is also required, along with an internet connection.
• Self-service with a difference – And we don’t mean inserting your money in a slot and hoping that the item you want doesn’t get stuck (as is sometimes the case in a traditional vending machine). We’re referring to self-service with options including, type of payment that can be used, level of interactivity (dependent on the interface and software used); choice of loyalty programs (as mentioned above).

 

 

 

A self-service kiosk at a micro market

A self-service kiosk at a micro market

The key element that makes the self-service option possible, the ‘face’ of the micro market, is the self-service kiosk. Unlike the traditional vending machine, the kiosk must allow the user to scan or input items as well as pay for them. There are kiosks that even allow the input of coupon codes and vouchers at the time of purchase. The checkout system must be capable of handling multiple transactions as well as track and record data to provide accurate inventory and revenue reports.

 

 
The design of the kiosk is similar to those found in other industries, but at Slabb, we design our kiosks with the end user in mind. One of our major clients commented that their customers particularly like the look of our kiosks, the low maintenance required and their ease of use for end users.

 

 
Fast becoming another segment of the retail industry, micro markets focus on enhancing the customer experience. It’s the added elements that count, so micro market operators can also consider providing additional services at checkout such as bill payment options, payday loans and check deposits. All of which can be provided through a kiosk. All it takes is partnering with the right institution (bank and/or utility company) to provide a secure link to the company’s system. The micro market then becomes an even more convenient option allowing employees to do so much more in the comfort of their office.

We’ve added three kiosks to our product line

We recently announced the launch of three new kiosk models – the X6A, the X2S and the X4T. But the names don’t do them justice. Take a look at these new models below. As with all our other kiosks they are vandal-resistant, ADA compliant, UL certified and CE compliant.

 

 

 

The X6A

The X6A

The X6A though sleek, rugged and vandal-resistance, as is the norm with all Slabb kiosks, is unlike any of Slabb’s other models. Ideal for self-check in, its design is versatile and can easily fit at any location due to its compact size. The kiosk comes with a 19” LCD display with touchscreen, credit card reader, barcode scanner, laser printer (b4600) and thermal receipt printer. The design also ensures wheelchair accessibility.

 

 

 

 

The Slabb X2S

The Slabb X2S

The X2S is a desktop model with a 15” LCD with Sound Acoustic Wave (SAW) touchscreen. Some of the components include a swipe card reader, barcode scanner, stereo speakers and an active cooling system. Optional components include a small printer, headphones, microphone and webcam if needed. Due to its compact size, it is an ideal choice when space is at a premium.

 

 

 

 

 

The new X4T

The new X4T

The X4T is a mounted version of one of Slabb’s more popular wall mount interactive digital signage models. Like the Q5, the X4T is rugged, robust and vandal-proof and available in any color with standard HD resolution and no external wiring. It comes with a 42” horizontal LCD screen display with or without a touch screen.

 

 

 

 

 

To find out more about these kiosk models or about any model in Slabb’s product line, visit our website www.slabbkiosks.com or contact us at 702-730-1110. One of our Product Specialists would be happy to assist.

 

 

 

The Top Ten Things You Need to Know about Slabb’s Kiosks

MockDataSheet4 - 2_0001Here are the most important things you need to know about Slabb’s Kiosks:

 

1. Does Slabb make any, really any, kind of customized kiosk, without any design costs within four to six weeks?

 

Yes! We certainly do!

 
2. How much does a kiosk cost?

 

Slabb’s kiosk models are some of the most affordable kiosks in the industry. Our kiosks are customized to suit users’ needs with prices for our basic interactive kiosks starting from US$1,800. Slabb also has low cost models and offers used kiosks for purchase at a discounted price as well as leasing options.

 

3. Is customized software provided?

 

Yes, we can provide customized software as well as “out-of-box” software. We can meet any software requirements that are requested when an order is placed. We are able to do this because we work with various software providers that specialize in industry-specific software solutions, including SurferQuest for self-check in solutions; Marquis Software, Cashless Systems, Inc. and Genesis Technology for corrections software and PatientWay for healthcare software solutions.

 

4. Does the client own the software after the kiosk is delivered?

 

a. Some applications require yearly licenses, others require a “one off” license.

 
b. Most of the software solutions that are based on framework software, like SiteKiosk, is owned by the client once the kiosk is installed and delivered.

 

5. Do the kiosks come with a warranty?

 

Every Slabb kiosk includes a one year warranty that covers the replacement of defective parts within the kiosk.

 

6. What service and maintenance agreements does Slabb offer, if any?

 

a. Slabb offers a standard one year “back-to-depot” warranty. We also have extended warranties available for the second and third year.

 
b. We also offer a service and maintenance contract with various Service Level Agreements (SLAs), including 24 or 48 hour field service. Some of these services include stocking of spare parts.

 

7. Does Slabb provide renderings of kiosks during the order process?

 
Slabb provides specific renderings, that include the client’s logo, the kiosk color requested and the components required. These renderings are submitted to the client for approval prior to the manufacturing of the kiosk.
Renderings are provided free of charge and are included in the Slabb order process.

 

8. Do Slabb’s kiosks integrate with other systems, for example Point of Sale (POS) systems or databases – information which would be needed at the kiosk?

 

Yes, through our software partners we can integrate the kiosk software to existing POS systems and databases.

 

9. Do Slabb’s kiosks have the ability to track/provide user information?

 

Yes, we provide applications which can do this.

 

10. What is the lead time from order placement to delivery for Slabb’s kiosks?

 

Slabb guarantees one of the shortest lead times in the industry. Our kiosks are ready in four weeks and are delivered directly and installed on site.

 

One of our sales consultants would be happy to assist you. Or simply visit our website to get a FREE quote:  http://www.slabbkiosks.com/contact_us.php

 

 

Our Year of Kiosks

Every year brings a spate of resolutions, promises and hopes for the twelve months ahead. I think it’s a great opportunity to look back at the year that has passed – the highs, the lows and most importantly the lessons learned. It’s one of the best ways to move forward, learning from past mistakes and setting new goals.

 

 
Here at Slabb, Inc., we’re no different. So I’ve decided that for this blog, I will look back at some of our great moments from 2013 so that we can start out 2014 on a positive note. We’ll focus on four of our major projects for the year:

 

 
Clark County

Customized X6 Clark County Kiosk

Customized X6 Clark County Kiosk

In April, we provided customized kiosks, based on our X6 model that would assist in delivering an essential service to the County’s residents and visitors. The kiosks allow users to request certified copies of marriage certificates, thereby eliminating the need for these customers to engage county personnel for this repetitive task. There have been over 1,000 transactions completed at the kiosk, to date, saving over 350 hours of staff time. Due to the success of this pilot project, the County hopes to have additional kiosks installed that can provide similar services.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SHRM 2013 with Avanti Markets

Avanti Markets Booth at SHRM 2013

Avanti Markets Booth at SHRM 2013

We continued to work with Avanti Markets, one of the leaders in the micro-market industry, and joined them at the Society for Human Resource Management’s Annual Conference and Exposition, held in Chicago, Illinois in June. Avanti Markets showcased one of several models of its self-checkout, unmanned kiosk systems at the conference, which included our X6 kiosk model. The booth received a lot of traffic at the event, not only because of its promotional wheel that gave participants a chance at winning great prizes, but because of the many HR executives wanting to learn more about the product, as well as those that wanted to share their experiences of having Avanti Market’s micro-market solutions at their own workplace. It was a truly successful event.

 

 

 

 

 

Arkansas Department of Community Corrections

Arkansas Department of Corrections Customized Slabb X6 kiosk

Arkansas Department of Corrections Customized Slabb X6 kiosk

July saw the installation of customized X6 kiosks to forty one (41) offices of the Arkansas Department of Community Corrections. The interactive, self-service kiosks are located at probation offices throughout the state and are being utilized by selected minimum risk clients to check in with their probation officers at stipulated times throughout their supervision. We partnered with Marquis Software on this project to provide the specialized interface which would facilitate payments to the Information Network of Arkansas (INA) as well as the software which would enable the recognition of the user’s fingerprint and capture their signature and photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

St. Joseph’s Pilot Project with PatientWay

Customized Slabb X6 patient registration kiosk

Customized Slabb X6 patient registration kiosk

Throughout the year, we continued working with PatientWay ,a provider of emerging technologies for the healthcare system, utilizing our hardware to support their self-registration and way finding solutions. In October, a self-registration kiosk was installed at the heart failure clinic of the St. Joseph’s Ambulatory Care Centre. The kiosk, based on our X6 model, provides a more efficient registration process through an intuitive, check-in process for patients. This has resulted in shorter wait times, not to mention satisfied patients. We look forward to additional projects with PatientWay for 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

IT Solutions

Customized X6 Payment Kiosk

Customized X6 Bill Payment Kiosk

We ended the year on a great note with our reseller based in Mexico, IT Solutions, by providing over 80 customized X6 kiosk units to the corporation that controls the largest television network in Mexico. The software for the units was provided by IT Solutions and will facilitate the receipt of payments from over 3 million subscribers. It is the first such venture in Mexico that will ultimately change the way the cable industry serves its customers. This was the second phase of the project which began with two pilot runs in specific areas of the country over a month long period, the success of which prompted the corporate wide rollout. Additional kiosks will also be deployed this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s definitely a wonderful way to start the year and we hope it reflects a trend that will continue throughout 2014. Our positives are only possible because of our great clients and we take this opportunity to thank them for their business and look forward to the new relationships that will be developed in the future. Happy 2014!

Healthcare Solutions Developed with the Patient in Mind

When most people think about the kiosk industry’s healthcare solutions, they either think of the traditional kiosks that can give you a blood pressure reading, found at almost every neighborhood pharmacy, or they imagine a kiosk of the future, that can act as a stand in for a doctor, where symptoms are inputted and possible diagnoses are given, along with a relevant prescription.

 
There are kiosks that are being developed to do some of the latter, and there are more and more articles appearing about them such as, Too few primary care providers? Med-mail, videoconferencing kiosks, and web portals to the rescue by Andrew Litt, M.D. The kiosks actually don’t give a diagnosis, but a licensed physician can, via video chat, along with the help of an on-hand medical assistant.

 
But there’s another area of healthcare that could be greatly improved through the use of kiosks – patient management. It can be argued that the underlying premise of patient management is to provide answers and implement solutions to the question – “How can a patient’s experience of the healthcare system be improved?” As a result, any solutions developed should be based on the patient’s well-being, comfort and convenience.

 
Often as new patients, we find ourselves filling out what seems like numerous piles of paperwork before we can actually see the doctor. Or waiting for hours due to emergencies, or appointment delays. Suppose this could all be eliminated? Is it possible to have a totally efficient patient management system? I don’t have the answer, but there are certainly solutions that can be developed that can greatly assist the process. Some kiosk software solutions address these issues, along with others and include pre-registration (at home), on-site registration and wayfinding solutions. All facilitate a more efficient patient experience.

 
Slabb is always looking for solutions that can enhance our hardware offering. It was one of the reasons why, in developing our healthcare kiosk line, we partnered with PatientWay, a Canadian-based software solutions company that specializes in the development of emerging technologies for the healthcare industry. They believe that patients’ active involvement in the registration and check-in process can increase patient and staff satisfaction while saving healthcare organizations time and money.

 
They provide streamlined patient access through web, kiosk and mobile applications using the following products:

 
PatientWay PreReg
This always patients to schedule appointments and pre-register from their homes using a secure system. It eliminates the need for them to fill out any paperwork when they arrive for their appointment and works seamlessly with PatientWay’s Reminder product.

 

 

 

PatientWay Reminder
Once an appointment has been scheduled, PatientWay’s reminder system is automatically triggered and sends an automated voicemail, email, or instant message, reminding a patient of their appointment. It eliminates the need for the healthcare provider to make reminder calls and reduces the number of “no shows” which can cost healthcare providers time and money.

 

 

 

Slabb's X2 is the desktop model that is sometimes used for healthcare solutions

Slabb’s X2 desktop

Slabb's X6 is also a common kiosk model used in the healthcare industryPatientWay Check-in Kiosk
The check-in kiosk allows patients who haven’t pre-registered, to register on-site when they arrive for their appointment. It reduces the amount of time patients have to wait, as it provides a quick and easy registration platform eliminating the need to speak with a clerk. The kiosks are multilingual and facilitate card payments, surveys and provide up-to-date patient information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slabb’s Wayfinding Kiosk

Wayfinding Display
PatientWay’s wayfinding kiosk adds another element to the patient management system by providing hospital and healthcare maps that assist patients in getting to their final destination. The wayfinding displays also provide information about locations outside of the hospital including restaurants, parking and hotels.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These systems have all been developed to assist both patients and healthcare facilitates to better manage their time and improve the overall patient experience. Their benefits include:

 

 

 

◦ Patient access to information and services 24/7
◦ Decreased wait times
◦ Value added services
◦ Updated customer database
◦ Customer feedback through online surveys
◦ Reduced staffing costs
◦ A positive ROI for healthcare providers
◦ They provide an excellent branding and advertising opportunity

 

 

 

For more information on PatientWay’s solutions, visit www.patientway.comand for information on Slabb’s hardware click here.

How will new technology affect the kiosk industry?

Over the past two weeks, I’ve come across some interesting technology articles on various newsfeeds. Three in particular stood out, especially because they have the potential to change the options available when it comes to kiosk customization.

 

 
The articles were:

 
Venture Beat’s HP’s first 3D printer could come as soon as next year
c|net’s Electronic makeup lets you control gadgets with a wink and along the same lines, two YouTube videos demonstrating Kinect for Windows (the Toy Store Scenario and the Retail Clothing Scenario)
Business Insider’s Researchers Have Discovered A Way For Us To Feel An Object’s Texture Through A Screen

 

 
Let’s examine each in more detail:

 
3D printers
You may wonder why this is on the list, as they’re currently a lot of players in the 3D market, however, HP is not only a household name but is well trusted by consumers and would more or less be the first well-known consumer printer company to enter the market. They have officially announced that there’s the possibility of them providing a 3D printer option as soon as 2014. HP’s reputation may have more businesses and consumers inclined to try the product.

 

 
What is 3D printing?
Short for three-dimensional, 3D is used to describe objects with depth; unlike a flat object that only has two dimensions that occur on the X and Y axis, just as on a graph, 3D objects also occur on the Z axis, which represents depth. 3D printing is therefore, the process of laying down successive layers of material using an additive process to make a three-dimensional object from a digital model.

 

 
The possibilities are endless with a 3D printing kiosk and interestingly, it already exists! Enter the DreamVendor – a 3D printing kiosk at Virginia Tech. It’s made up of four 3D printers with a system that can read designs from an SD card. Imagine being able to create just about anything and just dispensing it from the machine. Think of the marketing possibilities! A movie theatre with a ticket kiosk can, along with dispensing traditional tickets have the added bonus of a promotional item related to the movie like an action figure. It would definitely be an interesting concept.

 

 
RFID technology
Imagine controlling gadgets with the blink of an eye or with your nails. That’s what computer scientist, Katia Vega has been able to do using RFID technology. Her Beauty Technology, as she refers to it, includes the Blinklifier which allows users to turn devices on and off by just blinking, while using metallized false eyelashes and conductive eyeliner. Twinkle Nails uses false fingernails that allow the user to play a virtual piano. Each nail is coded with a different note using an RFID tag.

 

 
What is RFID technology?
Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer data, wirelessly. It allows the automatic identification of objects with tracking tags that contain electronically stored information.

 

 
RFID technology has been around for quite some time and is already used in kiosks and other devices. A perfect example would be a barcode scanner. What makes the technology interesting is that its use is becoming quite extended, as with the example above. Imagine being able to go to a kiosk or a bill payment machine and completing your transaction with the blink of an eye?

 

 
A similar type of technology is the Kinect sensor which uses gestures to control electronic devices. We’ve all played the games, and I can admit that I’m still amazed by this technology. The Kinect videos depicted on YouTube allow users to experience products prior to purchasing. It’s a great concept that would be a great fit for retail outlets that use self-service options such as kiosks.

 

 
Texture on a screen
Business Insider reports that researchers are discovering new ways to enhance touch-based devices by enabling users to feel textures on them. The technology works using electric fields that mimic the feeling of ridges, bumps and edges, generating the illusion of touch in midair.

 

 
Disney has already announced that they have been able to recreate the feel of various surface textures on a smooth object using electrostatic forces. This can be recreated on any smooth surface – a wall, monitor, and tablet or phone screens.

 

 
Imagine being able to feel the texture of clothing when purchasing online. It’s another great feature that can enhance the self-service experience.

 

 
These are just three examples of new technological discoveries. These discoveries, along with other advancements, will continue to provide us with alternatives to the way we currently use devices. This can only be a plus for the kiosk industry as some of these new technologies can be incorporated to enhance the overall user experience.

10 Interesting Facts about Kiosks

We recently did a blog on the Evolution of the Kiosk, and many articles have been written on this topic by experts in the industry. I’m always drawn to topics like this because I’m always interested in seeing how technology has changed so many products, not only physically but changes in product capacity and capability…Kiosks are no different.

 
There are so many technological advancements that have changed what kiosks can do and the amount of space and components they now require – from card readers to touch screens to multitouch screens that enhance the level of interactivity with the user. There is no doubt that kiosks will continue to evolve with new technological developments.

 
That’s why it’s important to study how kiosks have been redefined to suit consumers’ needs and wants and continues to do so. It’s also a good way to figure out what works and what doesn’t for users, ensuring that the same mistakes are not repeated.

 
So here’s a look at ten interesting facts I learnt about kiosks:

 
1. The word kiosk is derived from the Middle Persian word kōšk and referred to a small center that sold goods or services.

 
2. Interactive kiosks utilize a computer terminal that provides functionality through customized software.

 
3. The main kiosk input devices include a screen (LCD or touchscreen), keyboard and trackball.

 
4. Kiosks can also have optional components such as bill acceptors, card readers, printers and handsets.

 
5. In 1977, Murray Lappe, a pre-med student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign developed the first self-service, interactive kiosk.

 
6. The first successful network of interactive kiosks used for commercial purposes was developed in 1985 by shoe retailer the Florsheim Shoe Co. The network included 600 kiosks that provided images and video promotions for customers who wanted to purchase shoes that were not available at their retail location. The kiosk allowed the user to not only select the style, size and shoe color but also pay for the product via the kiosk.

 
7. The first commercial kiosk with internet connection was displayed in 1991, at Comdex. It was used to locate missing children.

 
8. A tradeshow for organizations looking to deploy interactive self-service kiosks was launched in 1997 by KioskCom. They continue to provide these services hosting tradeshows twice a year and offering companies education and demonstrations for successful self-service deployments.

 
9. The first state-wide deployment of interactive kiosks was done by Imperial Multimedia in 2007. They installed interactive kiosks in 31 Virginia State Parks which provided emergency information, park overviews, way finding services, video tours and printable maps.

 
10. It is estimated that over 131,000 kiosk terminals exist in the U.S. alone.

Interactive Kiosks are Making an Impact in Schools

I am certain, that like me, many of you with school aged children were wondering where summer had gone, as we rushed the kids out the door for the first day of school. Somehow, two months always seems longer than it actually is. For some of us, it is a refreshing change, a much needed break from the seemingly incessant noise, familiar rush to get to camp or an activity-packed day to keep our little ones occupied, in an effort to avoid those dreadful words… ’I’m bored!’ For others, we’re still in ‘hectic’ mode, just with a different ‘to do’ list, as we plan the school year and the extra-curricular activities that go along with it. Thank heaven for smartphones with reminders and alarms. Actually, thank heaven for technology!

 
I would like to add that I’m happy that it has infiltrated our schools. I’m in my thirties, and the school I attended was vastly different from my nine year old’s school. I remember it was a ‘treat’ to use one of the few computers available at the school’s library, for the limited time you had it. Now they use smart boards and have their own personal computers or tablets. It’s an inevitable result of the technological evolution and it comes with many benefits.

 
It has made life so much easier for my son who needed remedial assistance as the computer software now available allows children with special needs to learn at their own pace in an alternative way from a large group setting. It resulted in my son’s eagerness to read which was further propelled because he could do it using his Kindle. His school also gives students the option to use these electronic devices or traditional books during their reading period. It’s a great way to include technology into the school system.

 
The technology has proliferated in many ways. Most educational institutions first started using interactive kiosks as a way to manage the registration of students, especially at university campuses. It eliminated the long lines, allowing students to enter their personal information, choose their classes and even pay tuition using a secure, user-friendly platform. Kiosk usage has since been extended, allowing students to:

 
• Top up smart cards to avoid using cash for school transactions
• Access transcripts
• Obtain campus maps
• Participate in Student and faculty surveys
• Obtain directions for the area around the campus
• Check-in for event
• Obtain Campus Information and updates
• Conduct research via the internet
• Purchase books online
• Fill out applications for student clubs and volunteer organizations

 
Schools are also using kiosk technology to promote recycling. At Texas A&M, recycling kiosks allow users to earn points for every bottle or can they recycle. The points can then be redeemed for discounts at participating local establishments.

 
Three Williamson County schools announced that they will start using small electronic kiosks in their front offices this school year. It is hoped that it will make some of the schools’ processes more accessible to parents. It will also enhance current security measures, providing visual documentation, including vehicle information, of anyone present at the campus.

 
School kiosks bring many benefits including:

 
• Reduced payroll and overhead costs
• Increased efficiency
• Less paperwork
• A great opportunity for school branding to promote school pride
• A more positive, effective student experience

 

 

Interactive screen at Stoddert Elementary School

Interactive screen at Stoddert Elementary School

One of our earlier projects included the installation of information kiosks in three different languages at Stoddert Elementary in Washington, D.C. These kiosks facilitated the school’s efforts to become more energy efficient. Since then, we have installed many types of kiosks at educational institutions, each customized to address the specific needs of the school.

 
Learn more about our interactive educational kiosk options.

Providing Probation Kiosks to the State Of Arkansas

We were really excited about our recent project with the Arkansas Department of Community Correction. We submitted our bid along with four other companies and went on to manufacture, deliver, and install customized kiosks to forty one (41) offices of the State’s Department of Community Correction. The interactive, self-service kiosks are now located at probation offices throughout the state and utilized by selected minimum risk clients to check in with their probation officers at stipulated times throughout their supervision.

 

 

Topaz signature pad - a component of the kiosks for the Arkansas Department of Community Correction

Topaz signature pad – a component of the kiosks for the Arkansas Department of Community Correction

We based the kiosks on our X6 model, which was customized to include a laser printer, a Topaz signature pad and a fingerprint reader and card reader. It’s important to note that we pride ourselves on working with partners with our vision of high quality and so we partnered with Marquis Software to provide the specialized interface which would facilitate payments to the Information Network of Arkansas (INA) as well as the software which would enable the recognition of the user’s fingerprint and capture their signature and photo. We also enlisted the services of (An On-Site Retail Services Company) ARS Services, our kiosk and digital signage support partner for the last three years. They provide logistics, deployment, implementation and installation, maintenance and repair as well as phone support to our clients, and reverse logistics (unit removal and warehouse restocking) to assist us in managing our inventory.
Our President, Peter te Lintel was truly elated when we received confirmation that we were awarded the contract from the State. He indicated that, “Having provided similar kiosks for courthouses, sheriff’s offices and Departments of Correction in other states, we knew that we could successfully design and deliver the product the State of Arkansas needed. As with every project, strong relationships and the trust they bring are incredibly important. Arkansas had a software partner in Marquis and Slabb had an install partner in ARS; mutual trust allowed the four of us to focus on our individual expertise and go from discussion to deployment in 3 weeks!”

 

 

The final product installed at site (Slabb's X6 kiosk)

The final product installed at site (Slabb’s X6 kiosk)

Shrikant Mandapaty, Project and Enterprise Program Management Administrator at the Arkansas Department of Community Correction expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the project. “We had very tight deadlines for the implementation of this project, but we wanted to ensure that we had a cost effective, appropriate solution, both in terms of hardware and software, to ensure that the kiosks could be effectively deployed and utilized.” He added, “With Slabb’s past experience in this area, their reputation for short lead times and their partnership with a software company the Department has worked with for the past 13 years, they understood our requirements and were able to deliver a high quality product within the timeframe we needed them. “

 

 

It was truly a team effort and made us realize just how important our partnerships are. I started thinking about what elements make our partnerships so successful… Maybe a good topic to write about for our next blog entry.

What is a Kiosk?

Kiosks come in many shapes and sizes and can vary widely depending on their end use. They can be standard – a replica of the same kiosk that is mass-produced, or customized – built to the specifications that a business needs. They can take the form of rugged, industrial grade steel or sleek and fashionable units – all depending on their end use.
Whatever the end result, kiosks tend to have several common features including:
DSCF0274• A cabinet – the shell of the kiosk that holds the CPU, display and other internal elements.
• The Central Processing Unit (CPU) – the computer that runs the software application.
• The Display – the location where the software and user connect. It can be an LCD or plasma screen or monitor.
• Optional components that assist with functionality including the keyboard and trackball, card reader, printer, receiver, etc.
All elements are important to ensure a functional, effective end product. It can be argued that the key to this functionality is the kiosk’s software which can be a standard, ‘off-the-shelf’ solution or customized. It creates the interactive element, enabling the kiosk to perform various functions in a user-friendly format. Software can also provide security, a customized user interface and remote management functions.
Both hardware and software come together to provide a functional kiosk. Companies thinking of deploying kiosks should ensure that the elements of the kiosk match the intended use of the unit. This requires consultation with an experienced kiosk manufacturer that can guide the process and recommend the best hardware and software solutions to suit the business.
Slabb is able to provide our clients with exactly the type of kiosk that their business requires. Our customers can choose from an array of pre-made kiosks and pick the exact skin, finishing and color they desire or they can build a one-of-a-kind kiosk from the ground up by picking exactly the features needed to create a product that is tailor-designed for their individual requirements. We can assist throughout the process from purchase to configuration and maintenance once the kiosks have been installed.
A kiosk can take your company to the next level, allowing your business to stand out from the competition. Contact us today to begin discussing the details of your upcoming project. For more information on Slabb and its entire range of kiosk products, visit www.slabbkiosks.com.

Are Interactive Kiosks Really Effective?

Last week we bandied around the word “interactive” several times in our blogs – The Ultimate Marketing Tool – Interactive Digital Signage, A History of Interactive Kiosk Design and The Halo Effect Created by Interactive, Self-service Kiosks. What makes interactivity so important, especially when it comes to kiosk design?

 
In the simplest terms, I think we can all agree that in this age of advanced technology, where everything is more accessible, faster, responsive and ever changing that the “interactive element” is a must in order to stay ahead or simply keep up with competitors. In addition to this, we live in a world of the informed consumer – they know what is available and what is possible and they demand it. Just look at the technological advancements in our lifetime and the rate of change…We have already seen five iterations of the iPad, six of the iPhone, there are over 100 tablet models – a number continues to increase, laptops that are rivaling the thickness of paper and the technological evolution shows no signs of slowing down. This is our ‘normal’ and the kiosk industry is no exception.

 
Kiosk interactivity gives a business one additional touch point (no pun intended) to their customers. This provides many unique opportunities for businesses such as:

 

 

Slabb's X5 kiosk model

Slabb’s X5 kiosk model

• A kiosk that enables interactivity will allow the input of customer data, providing both quantitative and qualitative information that can track buying patterns and assist in driving sales.

 
Interactive kiosks reduce the amount of staff needed allowing a company to reduce training and staffing costs.

 
• The increased presence of interactive kiosks has encouraged the creation of customized software that can facilitate several web-based applications, thereby reducing implementation costs.

 
• It is an ideal platform for a company to showcase their product while providing a modernized brand experience.

 
• It allows a business to differentiate itself by creating a unique, quick and efficient self-service option for customers.

 
• An interactive kiosk is the perfect solution for brick and mortar retailers with an online presence to bridge any divide that may exist between the two channels. It is also an easy transition for customers who shop online to use the kiosk to purchase their products.

 
And we haven’t even mentioned the benefits to customers yet…

 
• An interactive kiosk can provide 24 hour access to products and services allowing customers to shop at their convenience.

 
• It gives customers a self-service option which reduces the time that could normally be spent doing a traditional transaction; not to mention the need to stand in line.

 
• Customers get the opportunity to view products on an interactive platform that can simulate the physical attributes of the product, assisting with final purchase decisions.

 
• It is a source for easily accessible, updated company and product information.

 
An interactive kiosk that is well-designed will ensure that companies experience the benefits listed above. Choosing a knowledgeable and competent kiosk manufacturer to facilitate this is essential.

 
Slabb offers a complete interactive kiosk design service allowing you to build a product that best suits the exact needs of your clientele. Visit our website to pick a model, color and features or contact our customer support staff to get started with a personal consultation for creating your customized kiosk. For more information on Slabb and its interactive kiosk design services, visit www.slabbkiosks.com.

A History of Interactive Kiosk Design

Quality interactive kiosk design engages consumers like no other advertising medium. Unlike posters, print ads or television or radio spots, interactive kiosks are actually present when and where people go to shop. Through interactive kiosks, consumers can learn about your product or service just feet away from the nearest point of purchase. Businesses can take advantage of this opportunity by including short surveys to learn about their customers thereby expanding their customer database or promote additional products using reminders throughout the kiosk check-out process.

 

What are interactive kiosks?

 

Interactive kiosks are user-friendly computer devices placed in public areas that enable access to a company’s products and/or services through the use of self-service applications. Kiosks are typically placed in high traffic areas such as airports, retail centers, educational facilities or in an office setting and can be semi- or fully-customized to perform specific tasks.

 

The basic components of an interactive kiosk include a screen/monitor and a computer that enables the input of data via devices such as a touchscreen or keyboard. They are usually customized based on the services they provide. Many companies often utilize kiosks to provide services that include, but are not limited to:
• Participation in loyalty programs
• Hotel and airport check-in systems
• Internet access for surfing the web or checking emails
• Financial services including bill/loan payment and prepaid credit card services
• Application centers for financial and human resource services

 
Benefits of interactive kiosks

 

Some of the major advantages of interactive kiosks include:
• Decreased customer wait times
• 24 hour, unmanned services, if required
• Reduced operating costs
• Improved employee efficiency, if done correctly
• Continuous updated information to customers
• Continuous updated customer data
• Potential for increased market reach
• An opportunity to advertise products and services, depending on the kiosk model

 

To reap the full benefits of interactive kiosks, your company needs an interactive kiosk designer with years of experience in the interactive kiosk design industry.

 

A lot has changed since we first entered the kiosk market in 2002, selling our first kiosks through a black and white website called AffordableKiosks.com. Years of experience have enabled us to understand the industry and the importance of producing a product that is easy to use by customers as well as providing an effective sales tool that will ensure a high Return on Investment (ROI) for the companies using them.

 

One of Slabb's interactive (touchscreen) kiosks

One of Slabb’s interactive (touchscreen) kiosks

Where Slabb differentiates itself from its competition in the field of interactive kiosk design, is in our ability to attend to all three of the vital components required to create a modern interactive kiosk: hardware, software and post-production.

 

Hardware is typically the most expensive aspect of the interactive kiosk design process. We work with our clients to decorate and brand their kiosks, and then outfit them with the peripherals needed/required (monitors, input devices, etc.).

 

When it comes to software selection, in many cases, clients can simply use off-the-shelf solutions. There are over thirty (30) recognized kiosk software vendors currently involved in the global interactive kiosk design market and we work with many of them to provide a range of custom software solutions for our clients.

 

The post-production phase of any interactive kiosk design project consists of finding appropriate installation sites for interactive kiosks, installing the kiosks on those sites, and then performing maintenance on the kiosks on an ongoing basis. In smaller interactive kiosk design efforts, it is standard for clients to handle these duties on their own, but we will assist with larger, more complex post-production deployment.

 

Slabb is an expert practitioner of interactive kiosk design, based in Las Vegas, Nevada. For more information, visit www.slabbkiosks.com, or call +1 702 208 9212.

If it’s about convenience, self-service kiosks are the answer

A company should offer a good product, great customer service, exceptional after-sales service and options to attract customers. But even with all of this, is the deciding factor when purchasing a product all about convenience?

 
We may know what product we want, if not, we will look at various options. It is great when the salesperson we communicate with is knowledgeable and helpful. It’s also a plus if there’s a warranty on the product and the assurance that having the product maintained and repaired can be done when needed. But suppose we get all of this at the store, we have our much needed product in hand and look up only to face a meandering line. Just think of the angst you experience at Thanksgiving and Christmas when you’re faced with those lines. It can also be like this if the store or product is popular. (Remember Tickle Me Elmo some years ago? Or have you ever attempted to purchase the latest iPhone on its release date? ). Would facing this, ultimately change your decision about getting the product? For some people, it wouldn’t.

 
I think for me it would. I have three children, two under the age of four and my time is literally never my own. There are so many options and alternatives now that a long line is definitely a deterrent for me. It is even more infuriating when there are several check-out counters but there are only one or two being manned. I often wonder why businesses do this when they can choose the alternative of providing a self-service method such as an interactive kiosk. Think of how much easier flying is when you check-in beforehand or you avoid the lines by going straight to the check-in kiosk.

 
Some may argue that it may seem impersonal and limit a company’s ability to create a lasting relationship with a customer. Could it also be a missed sales opportunity to promote the benefits of additional products at the check-out line? A case to go with your phone? Or a scarf on sale that would go brilliantly with your outfit?”

 
I beg to differ. There have been so many times when things are just so busy the salesperson forgets to even try to sell a pack of gum, far less for anything else. Besides which, I would always return to a store that considers my time, and makes my shopping experience easier. On that account, being less harassed by the sales experience, I would even take the time to answer a quick survey at the kiosk, or entertain add-ons to my purchase if offered as part of the self-service check-out process. Which by the way, the computer will never forget to ask.

 
Interactive kiosks are the machinery of choice when it comes to giving the public as many options as possible when conducting transactions. We used to be limited to Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs), but now self-service kiosks are everywhere, from banks to supermarkets, to every type of retail location where transactions take place.

 
Companies can choose this as an option to give their customers a higher level of service and watch customer loyalty increase along with their customer base. These days, the more convenience a company offers, the higher the degree of customer satisfaction they’ll enjoy. Depending on your industry, you can choose outdoor models, freestanding, desktop or wall-mounted self-service kiosks that offer superior convenience and serve a variety of needs.

 
Consumers have become comfortable with less contact with customer service representatives, and more contact with self-service options when transacting business. From banking transactions, to other types of payments, and even ticketing for concerts and airfare, consumers are more than willing to engage technology as long as it is user-friendly. The more technology companies embrace the happier they’ll make their customers, increasing loyalty and their bottom line. Offering the utmost in convenience wherever possible is the key to the future of commerce.

 
It’s important for companies to choose the right kiosk provider that can understand their needs, not to mention service and support for the unit. A company with experience, that will ensure that every element of programming and maintenance will be taken care of with the utmost care and precision, as well as ease-of-use for both customers and employees. A kiosk provider should offer custom solutions with both hardware and software to ensure smooth operation at all times.

 
Slabb, Inc. can provide these services and so much more. Click here for more information on how they can help you increase sales.

The Halo Effect created by interactive, self-service kiosks

By Mike Masone

The Halo Effect has been getting a lot of play in the past few years (see iPod, Apple -> iAnything, Apple. That endless source of Truthy information, Wikipdedia, defines the halo effect as:
“The halo effect is a cognitive bias whereby the perception of one trait (i.e. a characteristic of a person or object) is influenced by the perception of another trait (or several traits) of that person or object. An example would be judging a good-looking person as more intelligent.”
What could this possibly have to do with kiosks? A quality self-service, interactive kiosk can have a halo effect. Sleek, convenient, not having to stand in line, yet having all the information you need at your fingertips. The effect – your company will be perceived as sleek, an organization that values its customers and puts their needs first, thinking of their convenience and time.
Let’s look at the alternative…Bad interface, snippy staff, unattractive layout, stale products…Your company will be perceived likewise.

 

The halo effect is important and can be used to a certain extent to offset some shortcomings by presenting your client with the perception of your company as sleek, attractive and responsive. Now, you can either go out and hire a staff of sleek, attractive and responsive people or you can deploy sleek, attractive and responsive kiosks where they are needed, to offset some of your company’s more devilish shortcomings.

 

For more information on some of Slabb’s Solutions visit www.slabbkiosks.com

In with Recycled Interactive Kiosks, Out With Red Phone Boxes

Red Phone BoxesPhoto by Antoine Motte dit Falisse.

Leeds seems to be one of the first British towns to exchange the iconic red phone boxes for modern technology – recycled interactive kiosks with built in WiFi. The modern phone kiosks have a touch screen and allow users to leave video messages. They also allow multiple users to use free WiFi. In a decade when even most kids have mobile phones, free Internet access might come in handy rather than an old phone box where coins are required. Below is a short introduction to red phone boxes.

History Behind Red Phone Boxes

The red phone box (K1-K6) is often seen as an iconic symbol of Britain alongside Black Taxis, a cup of tea, James Bond and the Royal Family. The color red was chosen so they would be easy to spot even from a distance. The first models of red phone boxes were produced in the 1920’s and by 1980 over 73,000 red phone box kiosks were in existence throughout the United Kingdom.

British Telecom (BT), the successor to Post Office Telephones, began to replace many red phone boxes following the privatization of the company. Over 2,000 boxes were given a listed status, but most were sold off.

Old Red Phone Boxes VS New Interactive WiFi Kiosks

The recycled interactive kiosks in Leeds are built on the classic X6 phone boxes but with a twist. They are all blue instead of red. In one way, you could even call the recycled interactive kiosks green since they are all powered by solar energy. The innovative phone boxes will feature free WiFi. One of the main differences between the old phone boxes and new interactive kiosks is that you cannot actually go inside the boxes of the recycled kiosk version. They hold Aql’s network equipment (official site), allowing users to make phone calls via touch screen displays on the outside. The interactive screens allow users to leave video blogs, messages and share recent memories about the area where each box is located.

Are you looking for a new or recycled interactive kiosk? Contact Slabb, Inc. today and our dedicated consultants at +1 702 208 9212 (US customers), +44 1223 92 6035 (UK customers), +31 70 250 0155 (European customers) or +61 438 005 253 (Asian and Australian customers).