Do kiosks help or hinder your business?
Kiosks are becoming a common sight around shopping centres, airports and entertainment venues such as cinemas. They can provide a valuable and convenient service that utilises touch screen technology. Although a kiosk will never replace the human element of a buyer-seller relationship, they can provide a useful way in communicating to potential customers or providing basic transactions.
Types of kiosks
There are many types of kiosks, from retail kiosks to educational kiosks designed to attract children and facilitate learning. Retail kiosks are typically electronic computer stations that offer customers a means of browsing products. Educational kiosks are often found in schools and other educational institutions. These types of kiosks usually have an interactive function and help children or students to learn about a specific topic. Children often find this type of learning more fun because it combines interaction with technology.
Advantages of kiosks
Kiosks provide businesses with an avenue to reach a wider audience. For example, kiosks can be set up in locations where it is not feasible to establish an office or retail unit. Some companies use kiosks within their business premises. Retail stores are able to take advantage of the space saving benefits that kiosks provide. Customers can get easy access to company websites or catalogues and order items using the kiosk.
In addition to providing a convenient service with minimal space requirements, kiosks are capable of automating many transactions. Take cinema tickets as an example. Customers can use kiosks positioned at cinema venues to search for film listings, book the required number of seats and pay for the tickets. This results in fewer queues at the ticket office and frees up staff to perform other activities.
Another advantage is labour cost savings. Although kiosks can be expensive initially to purchase and set up, they could save businesses money in the long term. Kiosks can perform menial tasks that allow more effective distribution of staff or reduce staffing requirements.
As technology improves so does the reliability of kiosks. When they were first introduced, kiosks often caused problems and required frequent maintenance. Nowadays, kiosks are far more sophisticated and can perform routine tasks with few problems. Many kiosks now come with manufacturer guarantees and service packages.
Disadvantages of kiosks
One of the most noted disadvantages of kiosks is the issue of security. The software that is installed on kiosks often has limited features and cannot deal with complex transactions that involve authentication. This means that a manned station is required for authenticated transactions.
Despite the improvement in technology, kiosks still require servicing and maintenance, which to some companies can be a considerable outlay. Once the installation charges are paid, continued expenditure is required to maintain the machine and the software installed on it. The level of maintenance can often be attributed to the level of usage. Touch screen technology can be expensive to replace.
Many kiosks utilise software that is custom built for that particular business. Again, this can be an expensive outlay. The software must be written by qualified programmers, which means that businesses are reliant on their availability and service capability.
Should businesses invest in a kiosk?
The decision to install a kiosk may depend on the size of the company and whether it can afford the expenditure required to set it up and keep it operational. Smaller companies may find the investment and running costs to be a considerable outlay. On the other hand, kiosks can help speed up automated transactions and support staff in their duties.
This guest post was written by Francesca, a writer based in the UK with an interest in business and technology. She currently writes on behalf of Evoke Kiosks.