Blog: Frank Olea 

Frank Olea (bio)
Olea Kiosks, Inc.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011
I’m sure like most people that are going to read this blog you’re looking for a formula that will help you to deploy a successful kiosk project. Like most anyone else I’ll tell you that a lot of up front planning is certainly going to help you. I’ve personally been involved with hundreds of different deployments over my 15 years in this industry and have seen great ideas and horrible ideas and have actually seen each have success and failures.

Failure more than anything seems very easy to describe as often times you can see it coming from a mile away. Typically these projects are poorly managed and not really well thought out in advance. Often times their RFP might look more like an RFI. Sort of the “tell me what you think is best” type of scenario. Don’t get me wrong after 15 years I know what might work best. But I’m not an expert on your business. I’m an expert in Kiosk design and manufacturing. Meaning I can tell you what style is going to work best in your store but I can’t guess at what hardware you want inside of your kiosk or what is going to work best without some meaningful input from you.

Often times it seems our most valuable clients and easy to work for are clients that have prior kiosk deployment experience. Because like us they’ve been there and done that and have seen it all. These people tend to know the pitfalls of kiosks in their business and want to avoid them at all costs. Often we see these clients going with the top of the line hardware as they know what MTBF means. They also know what the true cost of an out of order machine is.

Look at companies like Macy’s and Target who have run multiple generations of machines in their stores. Every time they go out for a new kiosk they’re armed to the hilt with information for what they do and don’t want. Just like any other business practice they get better at it over time.

One of my favorite deployments was for a Canadian Lottery. We did over 1,000 machines in a very short time frame. The job was a blast because we got to sit down with technicians who have been servicing their original kiosks for more than 5 years. These guys were amazing. They not only knew kiosk hardware but they completely understood their business in a way I never could. They literally helped us to design the kiosk from the inside out.

If you don’t have experience with kiosks don’t fret. This doesn’t mean you’re doomed to fail. It means you need to involve your thought leaders in the planning. All too often I see marketing depts. making what I think should be I.T. decisions or vice versa. The best companies bring all the business unit leaders together and make joint decisions. Marketing, Store planning, I.T., Legal, and other entities should all be involved in these types of projects. Self-Service being so new many companies have yet to form a strategy around deployments let alone a business unit whose sole purpose is self-service. So until that happens try to recruit other folks within your organization to your team. And work with a company that is willing to walk you through the steps and help you to understand the pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Posted by: Frank Olea AT 02:21 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Not a day goes by that we're not on the phone with a potential client who needs a kiosk ASAP. We're not talking three or four weeks, but literally like two or three days. I often wonder why a company thinks deploying something as complex as a kiosk is a good idea.

If you know anything about kiosks — or any business decisions that involve thousands of dollars — you know there should always be good planning and budgeting behind major purchases. It goes without saying that when you wait until the last possible second your choices drastically decrease and prices often skyrocket.

I think it's a misconception that manufacturers keep inventory in a multitude of colors, quantities and hardware builds. For example, just one of my standard kiosks — the Metropolis — comes in seven standard colors and roughly 30 optional hardware items. This literally creates thousands of possible combinations. It would be impossible for us to keep even a tenth of that on the shelf for these "emergencies."

Price hikes happen for a number of reasons, including rush fees for possible overtime labor or overnight-shipping charges on hardware. Or worse, paying to overnight the kiosk can kill a budget. I cannot count the number of times we've overnighted a kiosk to the East coast and have seen the bill top $3K just for shipping! Most kiosks, when packed, are the size of a mid-size refrigerator. And if they cannot lay down, finding a plane large enough to transport them can get difficult.

Here on, you'll find all sorts of good information on proper planning for kiosk deployments. I think some folks think it doesn't pertain to them or maybe only applies to custom-made kiosks. I'm here to tell you that it counts for all types of kiosks. What if these last minute customers gave themselves a couple of weeks? They could likely get better pricing, more options and a color or style that works best for them.

The good news is that all of this can be avoided. You just need to plan ahead and start working with vendors earlier. Our standard product ships within two or three weeks but custom-made options obviously take longer. My advice? The moment you start thinking about a kiosk, reach out to vendors with questions about lead times and options. Most of us love our industry and would be more than happy to spend a few minutes educating. Of course, don't forget to plan your software needs, deployment goals, service and other resources, too. Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.

Posted by: Frank Olea AT 10:02 am   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  
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