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 www.DigitalScreenmedia.org, 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.