The Perspective 
Wednesday, 01 April 2015

By David McCracken - Livewire Digital

Turn on any high school or college sports movie and you’ll see a natural rivalry between the jocks and the tech nerds(…who I refer to fondly, being one of them!). Something in their DNA just can’t make these two groups get along. But in the case of sports Halls of Fame, life doesn’t seem to imitate art — jocks and tech geeks get along perfectly.

The hottest trends in sports Halls of Fame are digital signs, kiosks, and interactive software to organize and display the overwhelming amount of sports information available.

Baseball Hall of Fame

From the exhibits to the devices employees use to run operations, the Baseball Hall of Fame is taking tech to a new level. The Cooperstown landmark uses digital signs and interactive kiosks to give visitors a customized experience, no matter what they’re interested in.

The Baseball Hall of Fame has also started digitizing three-dimensional objects like documents and historic items to give visitors a hands-on experience, even if the physical item itself isn’t in the museum.

College Football Hall of Fame

Hot on the heels of the Baseball Hall of Fame’s tech success is the hall of fame for America’s #2 pastime: college football. You won’t see any plaques or busts in the College Football Hall of Fame — you’ll see movable touch screens instead. This Atlanta hot spot also incorporates RFID technology. Each visitor who enters selects their favorite team, and interactive video walls and other elements throughout the Hall are customized to reflect their preferences.

University of Massachusetts

At the UMass Football Hall of Fame, visitors use an interactive exhibit to explore the university’s 130-year-old football program. Kiosks and digital signs show visitors detailed historical information, current data and statistics, and engaging information on players, coaches, bands, mascots, and more. The digital directories allow every visitor using the kiosk to easily find something of personal interest through use of the touch screen software.

Stevenson University

The Stevenson University Mustangs were inspired by the All-Sports Museum at my alma mater, Penn State University, and wanted to use the same interactive kiosks as well as video wall technology to celebrate their own program. Visitors of the Stevenson Hall of Fame use the touch screen kiosk and ultra-high definition video walls to learn all about the students and staff of the Athletics Program. Livewire’s eConcierge Content Management System makes it easy for school personnel to update and change the information on a dime — and since sports are always changing and evolving, this ensures the most up-to-date information available.

Ultimately, this technology provides so much more than could ever be inscribed on a plaque in traditional Halls of Fame. Why share a small amount of information with plaques, busts, and photos, when you can share a limitless amount with kiosks, video walls, digital directories, and a content management system?

Posted by: Admin AT 08:04 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Interactive Customer Experience Association (ICXA) will host its first annual ICX Summit in Chicago on June 29-30, 2015.

Louisville, KY (PRWEB) - Networld Media Group today announces the launch of the Interactive Customer Experience Association (ICXA), which will promote and accelerate the convergence of customer experience technologies and disciplines across all consumer channels.

“The need for ICXA reflects a rising emphasis among brands to create superior customer experiences through multiple technologies,” said Networld Media Group’s CEO, Tom Harper. “Our membership unites professionals from such disciplines as customer experience and service, loyalty, merchandising, marketing, sales, and retail operations.”

Technologies employed by these innovators encompass CRM, POS, digital display, self-service, e- and m-commerce, mobile payment, and much more. ICXA represents a broadening of scope to understand how various technologies can be combined to create unique and unprecedented consumer experiences.

ICXA will host its first annual ICX Summit in Chicago on June 28-30, 2015. Keynote speakers include Blaine Hurst, EVP of Panera Bread and Paul Price, CEO of Creative Realities.

The soon-to-be-launched website will feature a members-only education archive, including videos, webinars and podcasts covering the association’s educational activities. The site will also offer an industry blog and supplier directory.

To jumpstart its launch, ICXA is merging with and absorbing the full membership of the Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA), which had focused previously on the self-service, kiosk, and digital signage technology segments.

“The DSA board is excited about this new direction,” said Bill Lynch, DSA president and new ICXA board member. “The emerging customer experience market encompasses all of our member industries and much more. Our research into market trends and member needs finds most DSA members either expanding into broader customer experience solutions or aligning with partner companies. It became clear that our association must evolve to better serve the expanding needs of our members.”

Existing DSA members will receive full membership in ICXA and enjoy increased benefits with additional learning, networking and peer groups. Technology innovators and suppliers will be invited to participate as instructors in a new online learning series.

Under the leadership of Executive Director Scott Slucher, the new ICXA will continue to expand and develop membership across such industry verticals as banking and payments, retail and restaurant, healthcare, hotel and entertainment, education and government. Slucher brings to his new role many years of professional experience in sales and marketing, digital media, and market research disciplines. His specialty is helping organizations make deeper connections within their industries.

About Networld Media Group

Founded in 2000, Networld Media Group is a leading business-to-business (B2B) media communications company specializing in digital media, associations and events in the mobile, self-service, digital signage, retail, food service and financial services industries. Online properties include,,,,,,,, and The company produces executive summits in the fast casual, retail, ATM and mobile payments industries. Its custom media division develops Web sites, premium content and marketing services for associations such as the ATM Industry Association and the Electronic Funds Transfer Association.

Posted by: New ICXA to promote tech-powered customer experience across all consumer channels AT 08:45 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Friday, 13 February 2015

Joe Holley
Vice President New Business Development - Displays/Merchandisers
Frank Mayer and Associates

With more than 20 years of experience at trade shows, I have attended more than 100 shows. While each show is different, I seem to always take a similar approach to each one.

I’d like to share my 7-part game plan for playing the trade show field with you. Hopefully, this rulebook helps you accomplish your goals in an efficient manner.

1. Know the Playbook: Almost all trade shows have a Pre-Show Planner on their web site. These planners can assist your company in tailoring your game plan for the show.

The amount of companies exhibiting at a show is overwhelming. You want to know which of your targets will be there before the show kicks off so that you avoid leaving a prospect without coverage. At the same time, you don’t want to rush the passers so make sure to work with your teammates. If you and multiple colleagues are going to the same show, be sure to know who will be tackling which exhibitor or event. You don’t want to double up – wasting your time and making your company seem unprepared/non-communicative.

You may be able to set up certain plays before the show by finding information on prospects via LinkedIn, the company’s website or even the trade show’s publication. Finding this information can enable you to leverage the meeting systems within the trade show organization. Consider establishing a quick meeting ahead of time to page through visual examples and capabilities.

2. Get your Jersey Ready: You want to present yourself so that your prospect welcomes you to their booth, is happy to have you on their sideline and introduces you to their teammates.

Dress professionally. If you belong to a world class company, present yourself as a world class individual. This includes comfortable shoes. You’ll need proper support to endure the entire game. My pedometer shows between 7 -10 miles/day at a show.

Practice good hygiene. You are talking to people and shaking hands throughout the day; so never leave the locker room unprepared – carry some mints and wash up after meals.

3. Train for the Big Game: Get the sleep and exercise you will need to keep you at your best. Trade shows are long days – you will want to be in top physical and mental condition.

Practice what you plan to say to each company. You want to be concise and direct; have a list of questions prepared that are focused on that company’s product offerings and be able to convey what it is you’re searching for. Be able to explain your company’s value proposition within 60 seconds. You will want to focus on the prospect but be able to convey your company’s value so that they remember you and what you are about!

Make sure to take care of yourself. Eat right and get plenty of sleep. Avoid staying out late watching the big game on Monday Night Football.

4. Stay on Your Toes: Be ready for anything from Warm-Up to Cool-Down

Always be prepared to show your value. Talk to everyone on the plane, on the shuttles, at the bar, at the restaurant, in the elevator. Trade shows typically have 1,000’s of people attending them. You never know when the big score is right around the corner.

Be creative. The last thing brands and retailers want to deal with is the “pesky” sales representative who is there to get business from them.  You’ll need to present your company in an interesting way. Bring something of value that is relevant and captures the extensive knowledge base in their specified vertical market.

GlobalShop trade show5. Scope the Field: Know the show floor and detail your route so that you use your time most effectively and ensure you don’t miss a prospective company.

If you walk into a trade show without a path of execution, you will wear out long before the second half.  Print a floor plan and highlight the people you want to see – making a route for the day.

Walk the floor several times. Try to come in and address their sales growth needs through the use of your company’s goods and services.

6. Watch the Play Clock: manage your time wisely, and remember – it is a marathon and not a sprint.

Manage your time from one company to another. Exhibitors are there to sell and they will keep detailing their products and benefits for hours if you let them. If they do not meet your requirements or help to advance your goals, swap business cards and move along.

Budget time to allow for follow-ups and re-visits you may need to get that contact or business card. Show respect for their needs and they will show respect for yours in return.

7. Review the Tape: Review and follow up with every contact you make.

When you sort through the business cards remind yourself of every detail that is important to fostering a lasting relationship with them. Each night at the show, write a review of the prospect’s needs and follow-up specifics.

Follow up with the individual. Don’t leave it up to the companies you met with to reach out to you.

Overall, remember – the prospect doesn’t owe you the time they are taking away from their important business at the show. Greet them with a smile, and leave them having a smile for meeting with you!

Posted by: Admin AT 10:37 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 10 February 2015

David McCracken
Livewire Digital

Is it just me, or is virtual reality (VR) popping up everywhere? Whether you’re chowing down on pizza or waiting at a bus terminal, interactive VR technology is growing every day. Now, we’re seeing the first smart retail store using this technology.

You might think the Rebecca Minkoff flagship retail store would want the incredible technology it created with partner eBay to be the focal point of the retail space. But it’s precisely the opposite — they made it as subtle as possible.

Reflecting the Future

High-tech touch screen mirrors bring the online world into the physical retail space. At first glance, they look like regular mirrors, until shoppers tap to transform them into touch screen, virtual reality havens.

Shoppers select the pieces and sizes they want to try on and a sales associate will bring the items directly to a changing room. Shoppers receive a text message when their room is ready — hello, omni-channel networks!

One Step Further

The smart changing room takes it even further to enhance the interactive shopping experience. RFID technology allows the self-service software to recognize each item within the room. With one tap on the touch screen mirrors, shoppers can request different sizes, place items into virtual shopping carts, and purchase.

The software also attaches each item tried on and purchased to a shopper’s account. This allows it to make intelligent retail recommendations based on the customer’s taste in the future, further customizing the experience.

Touch Matters

The smart store understands that VR can’t replace the need to physically experience something. We’re seeing this with larger items too, like Audi’s virtual reality car showroom. For as amazing as this interactive technology is, Audi also incorporates samples of interior and exterior finishes for customers to touch.

Having physical samples is important for both large-item retailers and stores with mass customization options. A shoe store, for example, could have one sample pair of shoes with virtual images and physical swatches of all the different materials the style comes in.

Previously, we’ve always looked at an online store as an extension of the physical store, but the smart store flips this idea on its head. eBay views the physical items in the smart store as a manifestation of the online experience. Pretty crazy, right?

What do you think — would you want this technology in your retail experience? Or is this too much, too soon?

Posted by: Admin AT 09:07 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 19 August 2014

   By Kisha Wilson
   Marketing Manager
   Slabb, Inc.

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles lately about potential job loss due to emerging technologies, including robots, self-service terminals and even kiosks. It’s an interesting fear that might be rooted in events of the past including the industrial revolution which saw the loss of many jobs due to automation.

But is there enough evidence currently to worry about something like this happening in the near future? Some will argue that there already is. Panera bread recently implemented ordering kiosk which will replace human cashiers. An article on – Panera Bread Ordering Kiosks to Replace Human Kiosks, reports that these kiosks will be deployed by 2016. The goal is to not only reduce the amount of time that customers stand in line to place their orders but reduce the wait time once the order has been placed as well.

The new technology, which is already being used at the company’s Boston and Charlotte locations, will be implemented at an additional 150 Panera restaurants this year. This means there will be a reduction in the number of cash registers at each store and customers will have the option of also placing orders via smartphones, laptops or tablets while at a Panera restaurant for either eat in orders or takeout. The company insists that despite the introduction of the kiosks that there will be no job loss as employees will now be delivering food directly to customers’ tables. It’s being done to improve service and order accuracy.

McDonald’s restaurants also introduced 7,000 touchscreen kiosks at some of their European outlets that will allow customers to place and pay for orders using cash or credit. It is no surprise then that according to a report, three in ten Britons believe their jobs will be replaced by a robot. In an article by Rhiannon Williams “Almost half of the 2,000 members of the British public surveyed (46 percent) admitted they are concerned that technology is evolving too quickly and is undermining traditional ways of life.”

Maybe it’s a development that is inevitable, with the increased need for us to stay connected – always having a device that allows us to quickly access information, complete transactions and just generally do things faster and more efficiently. It seems that self-service technology and gadgets associated with it would be a natural progression given our growing dependence on technology.

However, the jury is still out, especially with regard to self-service kiosks eliminating workers. Kiosks provide an easier way to serve customers and improve a company’s ability to provide an enhanced service experience. But they can never replace the human interaction which is still important in situations where a customer may be frustrated, lack knowledge or be averse to using technology and businesses must still attempt to cater to all.

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.” We couldn’t have said it better.

Posted by: Admin AT 09:00 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Monday, 16 June 2014

Kisha Wilson
Marketing Manager
Slabb, Inc.

“Today, the internet isn’t accessible for two thirds of the world. Imagine a world where it connects us all.” – Mark Zuckerberg is a global partnership dedicated to making internet access affordable and available to the two thirds of the world not yet connected. It’s an initiative that seems like a mammoth, almost unrealistic task. But is it doable? Only time will tell. Today, only 2.7 billion of the world’s 7 billion or so inhabitants currently have access to the internet with internet adoption at less than 9% annually. If this feat is achieved, the next step would be accessibility to enabling devices. believes that in order to make this a reality, “Potential projects [would] include collaborations to develop lower cost, higher quality smartphones and partnerships to more broadly deploy internet access in underserved communities.” They believe mobile operators can play a central role in this effort through initiatives that can benefit the entire ecosystem.

‘Helping businesses drive access,’ is one of the three challenges that the partnership would address, “Partners will support development of sustainable new business models and services that make it easier for people to access the internet. This includes testing new models that align incentives for mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses to provide more affordable access than has previously been possible. Other efforts will focus on localizing services — working with operating system providers and other partners to enable more languages on mobile devices.”

But other options could also be considered, including the feasibility of public internet kiosks, especially for those that can’t afford or choose not to use other devices, even if they are competitively priced. Public internet kiosks are usually used by businesses and are capable of bringing cutting‐edge technology to customers while improving their purchase experience. Imagine if private companies or governments are able to make these accessible to users that otherwise could not access the internet.

Both the hardware and software for public internet kiosks can be customized or standard, and can be ruggedized in order to accommodate the demands of heavy usage. Advertising could also be used to offset the initial implementation costs as well as ongoing maintenance of the units.

Just recently, a project first announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year was put back into the spotlight. It is an effort that would see the transformation of aging payphone kiosks into WiFi hotspots or “communication points” bringing free WiFi throughout the city. It is hoped that the project, which will be funded by advertising and allow users to call 911 and 311 free of charge, will be launched by 2018, at the latest. Currently there are a few WiFi‐enabled booths in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn which launched in 2012, but it is hoped that the new project will vastly increase availability to parts of the five boroughs.

It’s a step in the right direction to providing widespread access, and certainly something that can be explored through the use of various hardware options, including public internet kiosks.

Posted by: Admin AT 01:54 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 27 May 2014

By Tracy Robertson - ADFLOW Networks

It’s no surprise that interactive kiosks are popping up all over the retail landscape. Digital interactive kiosks offer innovative ways to interact with your customers, reach target audiences efficiently and thrive in today’s competitive marketplace.

Here are 5 ways interactive kiosks can work for your business:

#1 Help your customers find the right product

Interactive kiosks can help your customers zero in on the right product quickly and easily. Whether its selecting the right pillow, choosing a kids car seat, picking the right GPS system, kiosks can help customers to self-educate and select the right product for their needs without sales assistance. Many customers actually prefer to shop in this fashion without the need to interact with sales people.

#2 Facilitate customer sales efficiently

Interactive kiosks make an excellent sales assistant tool for your customer service representatives. For example, if a customer has a question about a specific product, such as a cell phone, a sales person can lead them over to the interactive kiosk and direct them to the product they are specifically interested in. Simply by touching the screen or scanning a product, the customer can learn about pricing, view different colour options, find buying guides and compare products on the spot. Interactive kiosks supplement the service from your sales person and provide customers with the information they need even when a sales assistant is not immediately available to help.

#3 Reduce "walk-outs"

By keeping your customers engaged, they are less likely to leave the store while waiting for a sales representative to become available. Traffic volumes vary greatly in retail. When customers flood the store, interactive kiosks can begin the education and sales process until sales personnel are free.

#4 Interact with customers in unique ways

As a two-way interaction, interactive kiosks offer a more engaging way to connect with your customers through edutainment or infotainment, such as interactive contests and quizzes. If a customer is looking for a particular product, such as the right pillow for sleeping, a quiz can be useful to help them narrow down the best choice according to their responses. When it comes to answering personal questions, some customers may also prefer the anonymity of the interactive kiosk to answering personal questions posed by a sale person.

#5 Learn about your customers

The data gathered through our interactive kiosks provides our clients with market intelligence on the success of their promotions. It’s possible to see what pages customers engage with and how long they spend on each screen, helping you measure the success of the user experience. You can also track the impact of content changes on the success of the kiosk. Even small changes to content can have a profound impact on user activity.

Simple customer surveys can provide powerful insights into what brought the customer into the store, demographics and product preferences. With customer information and kiosk interaction tracking, the opportunities for continuous learning and improvements are endless.

Provided by ADFLOW Networks

Posted by: Admin AT 01:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 04 February 2014

Laura Miller
Director of Marketing

Usability can make or break the success of any new website, application, or software. Also known as the UI (user interface) or UX (user experience), usability refers to the user's ability to successfully navigate a product in the manner intended to accomplish the desired tasks. There are entire industries built around better understanding these experiences, from optimizing a website checkout process to encouraging users to visit a particular page. These research industries use buzzwords like Voice of the Customer, Consumer Obsession, and User Experience Advocate and they staunchly advocate that nothing be deployed without an extensive cycle of research, testing, revision and testing.

Why usability testing?

Why is usability testing so necessary? While the layout, process, verbiage and navigation of a website, program or application may make sense to those involved in the design, they don't always seem so obvious to the user. Age, technical savvy, and education may play a role in how a user navigates, but so too may cultural differences, intended goal, and fresh eyes. Knowing your user, and their abilities, goals, and environment are key components to creating a successful product.

Why does UX matter?

Why should we care about User Experience? Self-service kiosks are responsible for setting up a user's experience with a brand. There are many moving parts in a kiosk deployment. Three that come to mind from the start include: hardware, application/program, and lockdown software. Watching how these things work together to make for a comprehensive user experience is an important component to a successful and enjoyable user experience.

Kiosk usability fail

Here's one example of how a kiosk deployment can fail (and yet, still "succeed") in a restaurant environment. The waiter, in this example, finds a workaround for a system that is not serving their needs. It's a must read for any naysayers of usability testing and observation as a means of testing and refining software. According to the author, "Computer systems are not always used as the developers suppose." As evident in this example, computer systems are not always used as the developers intended, nor as they would hope. More importantly, a complicated system is not always the answer.

The only way to know how users will interact with your kiosk is to observe them via lab controlled usability testing and in-field studies. In addition to traditional observation techniques, technologies such as heat mapping and eye tracking can also be used to better understand the user experience. Kiosk software with server capabilities can also assist in gathering usage statistics. In future posts, we'll identify common usability errors, solutions, and research methods.

Are you observing your kiosk in action? Does your client allow time for testing? What is your favorite example of something you discovered (and corrected) through usability testing?

Posted by: Admin AT 11:14 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Kisha Wilson
Marketing Manager at Slabb, Inc.

It seems that the word "interactive" is being used in various forums and mediums. But 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, more 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 that 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, namely:

  • 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, it eliminates 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.

Posted by: Admin AT 01:40 pm   |  Permalink   |  3 Comments  |  
Tuesday, 09 July 2013

By David Anzia, Frank Mayer & Associates, Inc.

Two big motivators are pushing retailers to transcend walled-off commerce and implement omni-channel strategies.  The first is connected consumers who have expectations of both individualized and seamless interactions with retailers. The second is the pressure certain retailers are feeling from shoppers engaged in showrooming and the unrelenting competition from online retailers like Amazon, who are the beneficiaries of that behavior.

You need only to attend a retail conference or engage a few retail executives in conversation to understand the need for speed in overcoming infrastructure hurdles to erase the barriers between consumer touchpoints. More than half of respondents to RSR’s 2013 Cross Channel Benchmark survey feel consumer expectations outpace their ability to deliver on a consistent retail experience.

On the consumer-facing side of this retail upheaval, continuity of experience – enabled by engaging interactive merchandising, a choice of self-service options and informed assisted selling – will be the driver for garnering the loyalty of digitally savvy Millennial shoppers. Those are the shoppers that will account for nearly a third of retail sales by the end of the decade.

As an in-store merchandising company whose projects often involve bridging retail channels, it is clear to us that omni-channel retailing offers benefits that transcend the challenges of implementation. Beyond the infrastructure changes and organizational realignments required is a vision for attracting and retaining high value customers and driving greater sales.

Improved Customer Perception

Customers expect integration and will become impatient waiting for it to become a reality. The blurring of channels isn’t just a retail phenomenon. It is advancing into other aspects of consumers’ lives like entertainment, where two-screen viewing is becoming a behavioral norm. Retailers are in a transitional time where speed of implementation can be differentiating and brand-building or slow response can be frustrating and damaging.

Increased Sales

Retailers who have inventory visibility and availability in the customer’s channel of choice have a better opportunity to complete the sale. The proof of this tenant is in the success of department store shopping kiosks and category tablet kiosks that give shoppers access to a wider selection and provide multiple points of access to complete the purchase. Consumers who shop across channels are actually spending more with their favorite retailers.

Better Data Collection

Visibility across channels means a more customized experience. Retailers that can track customers across channels and understand preferences can better serve their customers.  They also gain insights into crafting offers that motivate customers to get out from behind their screens and engaged in store, where the likelihood of impulse purchase is greater.

Enhanced Productivity

An omni-channel strategy can arm store associates with tools that increase access to information and promote efficiency. Tablets have become the front line of defense against customers armed with more information than store employees and a great offense for turning customer data into loyalty-building service.

There are benefits and best practices involved in the use of technologies – tablets, smartphones and touchscreens – that are the face of omni-channel retailing for consumers. The Convergence of the Connected Consumer and Omni-channel Retailing is a new resource we’re offering. It examines how retailers can take advantage of these tools to carry out their omni-channel strategies.

Posted by: Admin AT 09:34 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 09 January 2013
As tradition has it, the month of December becomes a time to reflect on the close of another year and to think ahead for the one that will follow. We've recently compiled our own list of the top kiosk and self-service trends of 2012 and the most-read stories here on Kiosk Marketplace. Now on to 2013 — what's in store?

In last year's prediction story, industry experts foreshadowed the rise of tablet use in retail and the expansion of self-service health care deployments — both of which proved valid over the course of 2012. We once again reached out to industry experts for a glimpse of their vision for the future. Here's what they had to say:

A continuation of the tablet and mobile trend

"For next year, I am seeing devices, devices, devices," said Mike James, developer of the Kiosk Pro App for iPad and iPad2.

While 2012 saw the Apple iPad dominating the tablet-to-kiosk market, 2013 could bring in more competition, with Microsoft's latest tablet installment and the Windows 8 OS.

Craig Keefner, manager of the Kiosk Industry Group and member of the Digital Screenmedia Association Kiosk Council, envisions the Microsoft Surface finding a bigger home in retail than in the consumer market, a sentiment agreed with by James.

"Microsoft tablets are going to be enterprise machines," James said. "Windows is inviting to do anything you want to do, while Apple is so restrictive in what you can and can't do with the machine that you own."

And while tablet devices continue to push the evolution of the kiosk, so too will mobile devices and applications, according to Bill Lynch, the VP of Reevex.

"We'll see the continuing convergence of kiosks and mobile applications," Lynch said. "Kiosks will continue to be the touchpoint for transactions, while mobile allows the user to access from anywhere, with an increased emphasis on providing a consistent customer experience between the two."

Widespread familiarity and acceptance of mobile devices and digital screens could also further the interactive digital signage industry. Michael Ionescu, president of Ionescu Technologies, said he thinks the best is yet to come.

"New York City wants to do a huge interactive digital platform, and I know other cities that are going the same route," he said. "I think some of the most notable projects will come in the next year. Whether or not they succeed, time will tell."

A rocky road for the kiosk printer

With smartphone penetration already at 40 percent this year, the U.S. market is forecast to hit 70 percent smartphone penetration by the end of 2016, according to Portio Research. By end of December, there will be approximately 137 million active smartphones in the U.S., and the research forecasts that figure to reach 176 million over the course of 2013.

Along with impacting the design and functionality of kiosks, mass smartphone usage could move traditional paper receipts over to digital e-receipts.

According to Lynch, the cost of the printer is borne primarily by the deploying company and is one of the more problematic pieces of hardware in a kiosk. By eliminating the printer, it is possible to reduce the overall operating costs, he said.

"We just deployed a kiosk without a printer and are using e-receipts for the transactions," Lynch said. "Because of the remote location, we wanted to avoid the necessity of replenishing the printer paper. We give the user the option to receive a receipt by email or SMS. I see that as a growing trend. It reduces costs in the hardware, consumables and maintenance."

Restaurants (finally) invest in self-order tech

According to research in the National Restaurant Federation's 2013 Forecast, less than 2 percent of QSRs currently offer self-ordering kiosks, while less than one in 10 full-service restaurants offer the technology as an option.

But consumer studies show that the desire for such technology is there among diners. For QSRs, 44 percent of consumers say they would use self-order terminals, two in five would use smartphone apps to place orders and more than one-quarter would use mobile payment options. The same goes for full-service restaurants: Four in 10 would use tablets for menu ordering, and 50 percent would use smartphone apps for menu viewing.

Yet regardless of what consumers want, the restaurants must commit to investing in the new technology. According to the NRF, 48 percent of QSRs and 54 percent of full-service restaurants plan to invest more resources into customer-facing technologies in the next year.

If the NRF research is correct, 2013 could be a pivotal, and long-awaited, year for restaurant self-service.

What are your 2013 predictions?

By Natalie Gagliordi, editor of
Posted by: Admin AT 08:55 am   |  Permalink   |  1 Comment  |  
Wednesday, 22 June 2011
In a Today show interview with Ann Curry, U.S. President Barack Obama talked about one of the reasons he thought employment numbers have been slow to rebound: self-service automation. Reactions to his comments from those that monitor and are involved in the self-service and retail industries are varied.

In the interview, President Obama said, "There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don't go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you're using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate. All these things have created changes in the economy, and what we have to do, and that's what this job council is all about ... is identifying where the jobs for the future are going to be."

According to the Washington Examiner's Philip Klein, ATM Industry Association CEO Mike Lee sent in an email response that said, in part, that "President Obama should never use ATMs as an example of how technology replaces human labor because ATMs today play a critical role in providing extensive employment in the ATM and cash-in-transit industries."

Industry experts are offering their reactions to President Obama's remarks, with some saying his comments were taken out of context by the public.

"I don't think he was slighting the self-service industry in any way," said Mike Wittenstein, a customer experience consultant specializing in branding and customer service. "I think he was using it as an example of what areas businesses need to think about when training and placing their people. He was using ATMs and kiosks as an example that people can understand."

Wittenstein said he thinks there's much ado about nothing regarding the comments because people are only choosing to listen to a select portion of his comments rather than his entire argument.

"The real focus was on where to direct this new jobs program, so we're training people in time for these new jobs that are very different from the ones we used to have. It's not as simple as replacing tellers with ATMs. That's not what the world needs. We're way too complicated for that," Wittenstein said. "I think his point was that people need to be trained and prepared for the right professions, not the ones that aren't needed."

The real economic value is being created by retailers, merchants and service providers of all kinds who are creating and blending traditional service delivery formats with new online-enabled services, of which self-service is simply a big category, according to Wittenstein.

Not a new concept: Technology replaces some jobs

Francie Mendelsohn, president of Summit Research and Associates, an international consulting firm devoted to kiosks, said President Obama's comments could have been directed at any industry utilizing more or new technology.

"When I've talked about why people deploy kiosks, it's politically incorrect to say that they deploy them to eliminate jobs, but that is why they are doing it," Mendelsohn said. "And what he [Obama] was specifically talking about was the airline check-in kiosks, which were implemented almost 10 years ago after Sept. 11."

Mendelsohn pointed out that even though the concept of airport check-in kiosks had been around before Sept. 11, the amount of layoffs caused by the public's concern regarding flying at that time gave the industry momentum and saved the airlines money.

"It was a cost-saving effort, more than anything, to provide functionality without having to employ so many human beings, and yet, when you ask people, they always give other reasons. He [Obama] was basically stating the obvious," Mendelsohn said.

She said that she believed that kiosk deployment has certainly created some unemployment, but fingers can't be pointed only to the self-service industry. She cited newspapers and the U.S. Postal Service as examples of where new technology eliminates certain jobs previously held by human beings.

"It does mean some traditional jobs go away. With the economy the way it is, I think it's sort of casting about and looking for something to focus on. He could have just as easily left kiosks out and said smartphones are doing the same thing. It's technology. In time, you will see less and less people going to the kiosks to print boarding passes," Mendelsohn said.

DSA executive director's response

"There are two points I'd like to make," said David Drain, Digital Screenmedia Association (DSA) executive director. "One, self-service has freed employees from menial, repetitive tasks and allowed them to spend time on customer-related issues. Second, while some companies may have reduced labor from self-service, it has created jobs for those designing, building and supplying kiosks. 

"So the president's comments sound like something from the hip that does not factor in all the benefits of the technology to consumers and companies," Drain concluded. 

Posted by: Kim Williams AT 02:38 pm   |  Permalink   |  
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Airlines have peaked, redbox has legs, healthcare should see growth and the United States remains No. 1. No doubt, kiosks have become ubiquitous, and prospects look strong, but many question where the industry is going.

Could ‘airlines’ — short for traveler self-check-in at airports, the process that has virtually replaced ticket counters — have reached cruising altitude and be on the way to a descent? Does redbox have room for growth? And where will we see expansion in the next few years, either by segment or by global region?

Kiosk industry research house and consultancy Summit Research Associates seeks to answer these questions and others in its massive guidebook, "Kiosks and Interactive Technology," an 800-page report that includes statistics on the interactive kiosk installed base, background on 700 companies and a plethora of charts and tables, along with an examination of leading trends and significant projects.

The report grew from an online survey and follow-up research by Rockville, Md.-based Summit, led by Francie Mendelsohn, its president and a veteran kiosk consultant.

The report’s conclusions, and Mendelsohn’s, may surprise some.

For starters, self-check in at airlines has met its technological match, and it’s called the smart phone. Kiosks will remain a strong force in the sector, but many consumers eventually will switch to getting to their plane with the help of their phone.

“Airport check-in (via kiosk) is a very mature market sector. You will see incremental increases and updates of products. Smart phones will change the long-term dynamics,” Mendelsohn said.

Here’s how: Travelers will download a barcode to their smart phone when they conduct pre- check-in thru the Web before going to the airport. With the barcode loaded, the traveler will go to the airport and head straight to the security stop, bypassing the airline’s check-in kiosk to pick up a paper boarding pass. A device at the security stop will read the barcode displayed on the smart phone, and the traveler is good to go.

Mendelsohn says several major carriers, including American, Delta and United, have begun offering this smart phone application at select airports.

“In time, you will see less use of kiosks at the check-in,” said Mendelsohn, who notes this approach is more common in Asia, the global leader in smart phone applications. “Kiosks won’t go away. They are deployed at check-in all over the country. If you want to go anywhere anytime soon you will use them."

A kiosk firm that should continue to grow, she says, is redbox, the DVD-rental subsidiary of Coinstar.

“(Brick-and-mortar stores) are falling like dominos. Soon it’s going to be Netflix and redbox, if it’s not already. They serve two needs, redbox for new releases and Netflix for older movies,” Mendelsohn said.

Redbox offers extraordinary convenience, allowing consumers to make a 24-hour reservation and to drop off a DVD anywhere, all for a very competitive price, says Mendelsohn.
“Redbox is pretty formidable. I see people waiting in line to use it. That is an indicator of success,” she said.

A segment that offers promise for greater kiosk use is healthcare, specifically at providers such as doctors and dentists.

“It would be great to see patients using a kiosk to check in at their doctor’s office. (Managed care provider) Kaiser Permanente has begun to roll this out in some offices. The patient swipes a card distributed by Kaiser, and (the kiosk) brings up her information. It signs in for you,” Mendelsohn said.

Shifting to the electronic storing of patient information would reduce paperwork and eliminate many human input errors, says Mendelsohn. These factors, along with offering greater convenience to their patients, should convince healthcare providers to invest in kiosk check-in systems, she says.

Finally, Mendelsohn believes there is no question of the top international market for the industry.

“The U.S. is still the leader in the kiosk field," she said. "We can be behind others in taking to something, but once we adopt a technology we go after it whole hog.”

That’s what happened with parking and DVD rental, applications that were initiated in Europe but once implemented in the U.S. grew so large that they changed their industries. And keep in mind the U.S. is physically larger, so it has the space to offer uses like drive-thru restaurants where consumers can order via kiosk, says Mendelsohn.

So maybe airlines have peaked, redbox is still growing, healthcare shows promise, and the U.S. is tops. Then again, there may be an application out there no one is thinking of that remakes the whole industry. Entrepreneurs succeed by swimming against the tide.

Burney Simpson is contributing editor to This post originally appeared as an article on Aug. 9, 2010.
Posted by: The Perspective AT 10:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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