The Perspective 
Monday, 24 April 2006
Many grocery chains are deploying self-service kiosks throughout their stores. But are the myriad applications on these kiosks really delivering value to customers and retailers?
For the past several years, a number of solution providers and grocery retailers have experimented with kiosk self-service. And the most important information obtained from these experiments is customer response. Customers like some applications and dislike others.
Two applications in-particular – deli self-ordering and recipe or meal solution recommendations - stand out for the value and convenience they provide the customer and the ROI they deliver to the retailer. They should, therefore, take precedence – not be buried beneath other, less-profitable applications.
With deli kiosks, a customer places an order, continues shopping, and later swings by to pick up the finished order — a very productive and efficient process. But it’s also important that the application keep the customer returning to the store.
An ideal deli self-order application features all the content and bells and whistles that make it the most convenient and productive option for the customer.
Those features include:
  • Speed and ease of use
  • Up-to-date content, especially for pricing and inventory status
  • Order history that shows frequently ordered items
  • The up-sell and cross-sell of other products and services
  • Ability to use a loyalty card or PIN to view buying history and/or receive special offers
  • Ability to shop by dietary needs, such as low-sodium, gluten-free and low-carb
  • Ability to order all deli items, not just meats and cheeses, for instance
Finally, the deli application should have robust admin/maintenance capabilities, and it should be tightly integrated with the deli’s scale-management system.

Recipe recommendations help busy customers get quick suggestions for meals and are extremely well used. An ideal software solution, for example, would allow a customer to scan a package of ground beef and quickly receive several recipes for beef. The customer then selects and prints one or more of the recipes, which includes an ingredients list.
Like the deli application, the recipe application must be robust enough to keep customers coming back.
Those two applications are the “killer apps” for self-service in the grocery store. And while the self-ordering model also could be deployed in other grocery departments, such as bakery, meat or seafood, self-service in the deli makes the most sense, because it provides returns and convenience for the retailer and customer.
No other self-service application deployed in grocery stores has equal potential for the high utilization rates and ROI that the deli and recipe applications have.
How does a retailer formulate strategies for deploying self-service kiosk applications? Start small, with two to four kiosks for deli self-ordering, recipes and, perhaps, bakery self-ordering.
A good approach is to front the applications with a common custom-branded portal, or user interface, that facilitates maintaining a consistent look-and-feel.
Another point: Try leveraging any existing Web or e-commerce presence. That can be as sophisticated as establishing multi-channel transactions that function across both the Web and kiosk or as simple as making the two platforms merely look similar.
Self-service is about convenience, speed of use and productivity. Retailers should be wary of overloading the kiosks with too many applications and essentially overwhelming customers with too many options. This will confuse and frustrate the customer and leave a bad impression of self-service. A customer who is frustrated is not likely to return to that kiosk, or worse, to that store. Essentially, retailers should start with proven self-service applications and build from there, letting customers dictate which self-service options should be added.
Posted by: Juan Perez AT 01:50 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 10 April 2006

bob.jpgThe writer is an executive vice president and general manager with NetWorld Alliance, which publishes this site as well as Self-Service World and KioskMarketplace.
Retail’s current form is weakening and will not survive.
There is a silver lining, but for now and for most retailers, there’s a black cloud. The customer’s retail experience has devolved to a point that mere adequacy is the best that can be expected, and that minimum standard is inconsistently evident. Many stores are uninspired, often with poor environment, poor display, inadequate selection, inadequate information, out-of-stock merchandise, poorly-executed merchandising, less-than-knowledgeable sales staff and clogged checkout lanes. Poor retail service exists at mom-and-pops, the big boxes, the bigger boxes, QSR (quick serve restaurants) -- almost everywhere that retail bricks are joined by mortar.
Increasingly, traditional retailers miss sales opportunities while customers exert direct transactional control, getting exactly what they want by buying online. They simply log into the fully-personalized Internet experience and shop on their own schedules, while receiving directly targeted branding messages everywhere they click.
Success trickles out of the traditional retail model because most stores are not evolving as rapidly as the marketplace.
Admittedly, good retail is hard to do.
It’s hard to sustain commercial difference in the minds of demanding, fickle customers. Tough and creative competition surrounds most retailers, and sub-five-percent margins barely let retailers breathe.
With recent thoughts based on my 23-year experience working in retail and with more than 2,000 retailers, and stemming from lessons I have learned while co-owning and managing part of a media organization devoted to the self-service and kiosk industry, I ask retail executives to consider a vision that will provide far greater success.
The vision will be realized when a well-integrated strategy of self-service and assisted self-service technology and solutions are deployed. This is not the bias of an industry insider: it is profitable, time-tested reality that forward-thinking organizations use to generate ROI today.
The self-service investment consistently proves its value: pay-at-the pump at c-stores, ATMs, photo kiosks, airline ticketing devices, grocery and retail self-checkout and today’s rapid growth of digital signage. And yet, the retail industry is slow to adopt.
What they have adopted is a frustrated attitude toward service. It’s perceived as too hard to find, train and keep qualified sales associates. Many leading retailers have a diminished vision of service, and the customer can tell. Increasingly in the future, more enlightened retailers will steal those customers.
If retailers wonder how self-service can extend their brands, consider how museums attract crowds by making seemingly boring textbook theories into lively, immersive experiences. Car batteries and broccoli aren’t anymore appealing than scientific axioms. But an interactive, hands-on experience brings life to any of them. The most seemingly mundane products draw more customers when presented on branded multimedia kiosks, surrounded by dynamic, animated digital signage, offering the customer as much information as desired when buying. While this technological explosion envelops all age groups, it especially grabs the young demographics precious to retail.
Let’s move from big box to smart box, building smaller stores offering more products with better service: hire fewer people, use customer-facing devices. We’ll combine the kiosks and digital signage for a more dynamic, focused customer experience.
Let’s use the kiosks to train the employees with procedures, involving them in corporate culture and equipping them with product knowledge in the downtime.
Let’s convert our stores to surpass the current brand. If our current brand is insufficient to resonate with today’s customer to a high degree, we should change it, and extend it more effectively throughout the marketplace.
Let’s create a true retail experience where the customer is honored based on what they want, rather than delivering the options we hope they want based on what seems reasonable to deliver.
Let’s provide a creative environment within our stores, appropriate to products and services, with an experience that is better and more-evolved than the slower competition. This unique first-person experience will be impossible to duplicate on the Internet.
Let’s use digital signage to grab customers’ senses at the front of the store, perfectly relaying the brand experience – intrigue, excitement, mystery – through the best sales media of all: customers’ emotions.
Let’s take a clean sheet of paper and design the whole store to convey the experience through kiosks and digital signage. Let’s create this smarter buyer experience across more store locations and off-site kiosks, with great economic leverage. Make the entire digital signage and kiosk experience into a single, powerful message, managed strategically by enlightened executives and operated tactically by one person at one computer using thoughtful, well-designed software.
Let’s provide the ultimate in product information, choice, comparison, and demonstration in a way outmatching anything found at current stores, or ever on the web.
Let’s create this useful content in close proximity to the products to which the information relates.
Let’s employ highly effective merchandising techniques on display devices to cross-sell, up-sell, and accentuate merchandise. Retailers will quickly enjoy what Coke has learned at quick service restaurants: when beverages are encouraged or up-sold by effective and consistent self-service devices, beverage sales increase at least 15 percent.
Let’s create targeted product information providing an effective sales relationship. Let’s make the content truly useful for purchasing, and not inappropriately focused in its own flash factor.
Take for example an appliance store. We need only one washer and dryer pair to offer a brand’s look and feel, associated with the appropriate product information provided by self-service devices or from a knowledgeable, well-trained salesperson using assisted-selling devices. Having multiple products from many brands displayed is unnecessary for almost any type product, and costly in many ways.
Let’s sell music, movies, games and software burned locally on the fly, or offer listening and viewing stations with the merchandise warehoused in floor-to-ceiling shelving in the back room, eliminating costlier display space.
Let’s hire fewer people in these smart boxes, and recruit with instant profiling capabilities provided through in-store HR kiosks, querying for career-oriented personnel, and let’s use the money we save by selling smart to pay better. Let’s create pride by using self-service to hire the best people, offer them the best training and empowering them with the best tools.
Let’s imagine a better way. Let’s accept a new, better vision. Let’s feel  pride through the orchestration of this vision.  Let’s better understand the current customer plight and catch up to the way they want to do business.
The shoppers won’t wait much longer, and while you’re reading this, so is your competition.
Bob Fincher can be e-mailed at .

Posted by: Bob Fincher AT 01:48 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 03 April 2006
Editor Bryan Harris and I returned from Chicago recently having taken our first of several planned member visits. We met with four SSKA member companies. Each company graciously welcomed us in their offices, told us about their products and some of their challenges and we shared with them the latest plans and activities of the association. Here’s a brief recap from our trip:
DNI Marketing, St. Charles, IL – CEO Jeff Pacelt and four other members of his staff met with us in their conference room for an overview of the company and an engaging discussion about the industry. DNI creates custom-built, in-store displays and has added interactive kiosks to their line up. Their strength lies in branded enclosure design. “If someone needed a kiosk shaped like a spoon, we could do it,” said Rod Carrico, VP of targeted accounts.
DNI Marketing: SSKA executive director David Drain with The DNI Marketing Group CEO Jeff Pacelt.
Pay-Ease, Roselle, IL – Dean Scaros, president, gave us a demonstration of their Automated Commerce Machine. With a touch screen, card reader, keypad, cash dispenser, bill and coin acceptor, card dispenser, decal dispenser, credit card reader, speaker, check reader and receipt printer, this kiosk had more functions than a Swiss Army knife. Bill pay, loyalty card, gift cards and stored-value debit cards are just some of the functions possible with these units. We were especially impressed when the machine printed a parking permit decal for the City of Milwaukee.
Paying with ease: Pay-Ease president Dean Scaros demonstrates the company's advanced financial kiosk to SSKA executive director David Drain.
Adusa, Lombard, IL – We met with Juan Perez, president and chief technology officer of Adusa, which began in 1995 offering consulting and systems integration for grocery stores. In 1999, the company entered the self-service industry by producing a deli-ordering system for one of its customers. Their biggest customer is now Kroger and they are developing web and kiosk software for the quick-serve, fast-casual and casual-dining segments of the restaurant industry. Perez shared with us a March 28 article from called “Dining trends: Self-service=quick service” in which he was quoted.
Corporate Safe Specialists, Posen, IL – For our last visit, we drove just south of Chicago to meet with CSS President Ed McGunn. McGunn, who is also a vice president with the association, regaled us with his American dream story of beginning his safe business in his garage in 1988. After landing Blockbuster as a client, he committed to delivering a safe to each Blockbuster store as that chain was on a mission to open a new unit each day. He didn’t have a contract with the video store behemoth, but he was told he could keep the business so long as he could keep delivering safes. That relationship lasted 11 years. CSS entered the self-service industry several years ago when a client asked for remote access to his safes. In addition to the traditional safes the company continues to build, they now offer biometrics, bill handling software and a self-checkout kiosk accepting various methods of payment integrated with a keyless lock safe. The business McGunn and his younger brother started in 1988 has now grown to 62 employees with clients around the world.
Safe at home: Corporate Safe Specialists president and CEO Ed McGunn, far right, leads a tour of his company's assembly operation.
Our goal is to visit members one week a month this year. Bryan and I are already scoping out our next member visits for the New England area. Who knows, we might be coming to a town near you.
I know many of you are preparing to head out to Las Vegas for KioskCom. At last count, there were 63 member companies set to exhibit at next week’s show. I look forward to meeting you there.
Posted by: David Drain AT 01:46 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Add to favorites

Our members are among the most prominent and respected suppliers of digital signage, kiosk, self-service and mobile technology solutions.

Request project help from DSA members

 The Perspective 
Latest Posts

"The Digital Screenmedia Association and its membership is critically important to the growth of the industry. We are paving the way for accelerated industry growth and excellence of digital screenmedia deployments worldwide".

Stuart Armstrong
Managing Director, Direct Sales
Tweets by @iDigScreenmedia

Digital Screenmedia Association | 13100 Eastpoint Park Blvd. Louisville, KY 40223 | Phone: 502-489-3915 | Fax: 502-241-2795



Website managed by Networld Media Group