The Perspective 
Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Jessica Glynn
Marketing
Reality Interactive



Are you considering adding digital touch-points to your retail location? It’s not enough to just add an interactive experience, the experience needs to be done right.

But what separates good interactive experience from not-so-good interactive experiences? Just like any other retail design project, there are four key factors to consider.

Does it Fit in the Environment

The environment the interaction will be going in is the first thing that needs to be considered. The amount of space for this interaction being one of the most important factors. The 90 inch tablet we put in the Time Warner Cable Flagship Store is a great showpiece, and touch-point, but in a small store it may be overwhelming at best, but physically impossible, at worst. What about the enclosure design? Will it fit seamlessly into the environment, stand out just enough to attract a customer, or clash entirely? This must be considered before you can begin designing.

Other environmental factors that are important to consider include:

    Sound: how you integrate sound will depend largely on the environment. Maybe your installation is in a busy mall, where you want extra sound to attract customers. Maybe it’s in a hospital where sound is disruptive and inappropriate. Sound is frequently an after-thought, but should be considered before you develop content.
    Lighting: is your installation inside or outside? An indoor installation may not have as many lighting factors to consider. However, an outdoor installation will suffer from sun-glare issues. It will also need to light up well enough to be used in the dark.
    Protection: is also more of a factor for outdoor installations. If the interaction is in an area where it can be rained on, for example, the installation will need to be water-proof. Will it only be used seasonally? If so consider making it portable so it can be put away during the off-season.


Strategic Placement

Related to environmental considerations are that of placement. The installation must not be placed in a way where it will interrupt traffic or obstruct visibility in a retail environment. You also generally wouldn’t want to tuck your installation away in a corner where it won’t attract any attention. If you want customers to slow down and stop when they see your installation, you’ll want to put it in a high transit area.

However, there is a caveat. If the transaction being performed is  of a sensitive nature, like a financial transaction, your customer will feel more comfortable if the installation is placed in a more private area.
Understanding Your Customer

You probably know, from the perspective of your business, what you hope to achieve from the interactive experience. But before you can move forward with a plan, you must consider what’s in it for your customer. How will this experience attract a customer and make them want to interact? Consider a kiosk. A great kiosk is a kiosk people want to touch. But what makes them want to touch it? They have an objective that the kiosk will help them accomplish in an efficient way. Think of some of the most popular kiosks:

    Airport kiosks help customers get through check-in faster, which helps to improve the quality of their experience. The kiosks can print out their boarding pass and get them to the security check-in faster.

    Self check-out kiosks help customers skip waiting in line at grocery stores. Instead of waiting for a cashier to ring them out, the customer does the work themselves. This also means they have to bag their own groceries, but they are active in this process instead of just standing in line. This reduces their perception of time lost in line.

    ATMs are great because they mean customers can get cash out of their bank account during non-business hours. But customers still use ATMs even during business hours. Perhaps, removing a human from their financial transaction feels more secure. But even taking that out the equation, ATM lines just move faster. There’s no bank teller to make small talk with or check you identification. Many banks even have drive through ATMS so customers don’t even have to get out of their cars.

A good interactive experience will cater to the masses, not just a niche group. You must consider the needs of your customer and if this experience will be accessible for them. To decide this, you must understand the demographics of your customers. If your customers served skews older, you will need to use a font that is large enough for them to read. If your customers tend to prefer to speak a language other than English you should give them the option to select their language before proceeding.

Keeping the Content Relevant

A consumer will quickly dismiss a message if it doesn’t relate to them. So your content needs to be relevant.

Consider what you are trying to communicate to your customer. This is where content comes in. The content that you use will need to not just attract your customer, but also keep their attention. Content is not just the words you use, but also how you present them. User interface design is an important part of your message. If the way the installation works is unclear to the customer, then they will not be able to understand your content.

Posted by: Admin AT 08:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
Wednesday, 10 December 2014

By Chris Gilder
CEO and Founder
Meridian Zero Degrees

Identifying market trends has become, well, a “trendy” thing to do. All too often, though, when such movements are discussed in the self-service industry, there is rarely a clear answer to the question of “so what?”

Taking advantage of prevailing developments in any business can be a risky endeavor. Thus, I want to discuss three critical trends in the self-service marketplace and how to capitalize on these, or any, shifting technologies.

Mobile Integration – It's becoming a necessity in self-service to develop solutions with mobile integration in mind. According to new research from Pew’s Internet & American Life Project, more than 60-percent of Americans own a smartphone; that’s staggering! Nearly two-thirds of American consumers have a smart device at the ready.

This trend is only growing. And as consumers become increasingly dependent upon their mobile devices, self-service providers will have to be capable of deploying solutions that are mobile-integrated in order to remain competitive. This is what the market is demanding and will continue to demand.

Omnichannel – Mobile integration is crucial, but it's only part of the picture. Consumers, now more than ever, want the freedom to conduct a transaction at their leisure. Whether it is via a Web browser, on a tablet or personal computer, at a kiosk, at a brick-and-mortar store or through a combination of all of these, creating a seamless consumer experience is becoming vital to the marketing success of all companies.

As a self-service company, we at Meridian know we have to be in touch with this need and provide solutions that will work in an omnichannel landscape. In fact, there may be cases where self-service solution providers will have to lead the way, guiding companies to an understanding of the necessity of creating a consistent omnichannel experience for their customers. We must be equipped to lead as solutions providers.

Interfacing with New TechnologiesWebopedia defines interface as "a boundary across which two independent systems meet and act on or communicate with each other." We're all familiar with user interfaces (UI) like the keyboard or the mouse and with graphical user interfaces (GUI) like Windows or iOS.

Moving forward, our industry will be increasingly shaped by interfacing with new technologies like Bluetooth, facial recognition, character recognition, and others. Understanding how these technologies benefit clients and end users is paramount to any self-service company’s success. Collaborating with partners that grasp these new interfacing technologies makes for widespread innovation; and with innovation comes thoughtful, managed solutions that are good for everyone.

Ideas plus analytics equal a win-win - Now that we know the critical trends shaping our industry, what’s next? How are we to gauge risk versus reward when it comes to capitalizing on trends that may, or may not, take hold in the self-service marketplace?

In my experience, there are two critical components needed to gauge risk versus reward.

First, there must be thoughtful and well-planned proofs of concept that lead to pilot projects. Second, there has to be a plan to collect and measure data. Without these components, a solution provider is no better than a pilot flying an airplane without navigation. There is no way for him to know what is up or down – no information guiding him to the place he needs to go.

Without measurable indicators as to what works and what doesn’t, there is no way to say to a company, "Here is a successful solution to your problem," because no one knows if it is or isn’t. When trying to capitalize on shifting trends, capturing empirical data is vital – it's vital to the self-service solution provider, to the success of its clients, and, ultimately, to the satisfaction of the end user. When we carefully plan proofs of concepts, deploy pilots and measure data, we create a win-win-win scenario instead of wasting time and resources for all parties.

Navigating the landscape of the self-service industry is not easy. None of us can predict the future. But, we don’t have to be soothsayers to be successful. Recognizing trends, testing well-planned ideas, measuring successes and failures with analytics – these are the means by which we can create a winning environment for all stakeholders. 

Posted by: Admin AT 10:55 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email
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