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Retail Self-Service Kiosks Get Personal

Retail self-service kiosks, retail kiosk

After more than a year of interacting with the world through technology, people no longer assume a face-to-face interaction when accessing retail, banking, or many other services. Consumers no longer have to wait in line to get an engaging and personalized experience. And with new technological innovations, businesses now have an opportunity to learn more about what their consumers want, and to implement new multichannel strategies.

We sat down with David Frei, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for worldwide kiosk manufacturer Pyramid Computer, to discuss how the role of self-service kiosks is changing in the current environment, how businesses can get the most out of the kiosk experience, and where we go from here.

What kinds of use cases are you seeing for kiosks, and how have those been changing lately?

In the past few years, kiosks have really been established as one preferable digital channel when it comes to upselling and queue busting in pioneering industries like hospitality and retail. As far as KPIs, there are great reports available that prove upside potential such as waiting-time reductions of a minimum 20 seconds per session. That’s really pre-COVID.

Not to mention that health has become, and hopefully always had been, the most important goal and KPI in that sense. In the previous year, not least due to COVID, there have been new use cases, and a growing focus on new values.

For example, one of our biggest successes has been in temperature-measurement and guest-screening environments. Kiosks can provide a new layer of protecting visitor and staff health when entering in any kind of building.

#Kiosks have really been established as one preferable digital channel when it comes to upselling and queue busting in pioneering industries like #hospitality and #retail. @polytouch_de via @insightdottech

 What are some of the big trends you’re seeing in tokenized or pay-by-face and loyalty programs?

Loyalty programs are obviously a huge topic for all of our customers across multiple segments. There’s that golden rule: nothing new; no higher cost for new-customer acquisition.

So when someone asks me, “How do we get our existing customers back to our store?” I can only answer that the best way is by having a fundamental multichannel strategy and knowledge about your customers’ preferences. And then answering the question: What would be the easiest way to remember your customer on-site?

For some of our clients, we would answer: face identity. The whole tokenization and GDPR topic by sight, by facial recognition, is an incredible, interesting application field. First, identify the process, and then you’ll always be remembered, not only in front of the kiosk, but also, for example, with digital signage.

Then there’s also personalized menu adjustments. If you don’t want to give your full set of data, it’s enough that the system knows your demographics to be able to adjust the menu board, make it more relevant, and create an easier checkout process.

And what we have also tried in the past, which is very efficient, is mood detection—depending on the mood of the user, we can offer the most relevant products.

How would that work in practice? Can you give an example?

We tested software that basically detects very significant moods, like if the customer is smiling, not smiling, with a group of people, or a single person. And then, depending on other information—such as the weather outside, et cetera—there’s an algorithm to give the best offers to those special conditions. This kind of personalization is what drives consumers.

How are your customers using these new technologies to create more inviting interfaces and better personalization?

In terms of innovative POS interfaces, during the pandemic last year we field-tested new technologies, including gesture control, eye tracking, and even voice interaction.

This was in the context of drive-through, click-and-collect, and self-ordering—mostly in the restaurant environment. At the time, none of these methods were really established as an alternative for the touch interface, which is still the most intuitive. But they did provide interesting user information, which can be leveraged to improve upselling, speed at the point of sale, and especially customer loyalty.

It is really all about personalization. For example, there are interesting conclusions our customers can draw if you analyze the items that guests are looking at while standing in front of the kiosk, and whether they purchase those items or not. So you can then use that data and present those items—we call them “items of best chance”—to all the following customers with a similar demographic structure, including gender and age.

Talk about the trend of kiosks integrating more with other on-site devices. What needs to happen for that to be done effectively?

This is definitely key. A kiosk is necessarily only a piece of the digital puzzle; you have the greatest effect when integrating seamlessly into existing infrastructures. And that could be like an ERP system, which contains all article information, customer information, et cetera. Or in the restaurant environment, the existing POS, which still transfers all the article data, but also all the payment processing.

There are also other components, such as the web, mobile, or the delivery piece of the digital puzzle. Nowadays you really need to have the whole multichannel or omnichannel approach. Not to mention the on-premises data processing, which simply requires a specific server infrastructure. All that is, of course, a pretty comprehensive journey.

What final thoughts would you like to leave with our audience?

One lesson that I had during the past year while testing all these very innovative approaches is how valuable it can be to approach digitalization by starting from the beginning. It’s clear that we are operating in a really incredible, interesting, and fast-changing world, and exciting innovations are appearing every day.

There’s a great temptation for customers to start digitalization and have the desire to do everything at once. I’m a big fan of a more conservative digitalization approach, where I see real value in simplicity by going step by step. This means starting a very solid, fundamental digital journey with components that already have proven their return of investment, and where you have comparable low risk.

Related Content

To learn more about the role of machine vision in self-service kiosks, listen to our podcast on Self-Service Tech Trends in Retail, Banking, and Hospitality.

About the Author

Kenton Williston is an Editorial Consultant to and previously served as the Editor-in-Chief of the publication as well as the editor of its predecessor publication, the Embedded Innovator magazine. Kenton received his B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 2000 and has been writing about embedded computing and IoT ever since.

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