Profitable Retail: Automated Retail Meets the New Kiosk
How state-of-the-art kiosks are helping to deliver retail profitability.
Coin-operated laundromats have been around for generations. Many people remember cafeteria automats (though the last disappeared in NYC in 1991). But the self-serve vending machine industry has never seen anything like the growing sophistication offered by today’s exciting kiosks.
The potential of kiosks has intrigued brands and retailers for several years. However, enhanced kiosk design – driven by innovative technology and the emergence of mobile as a force reshaping the shopper’s trip – is leading increasingly to varied and exciting kiosk displays and options.
Retailers and brands are attracted to kiosks for three major reasons:
- The small footprint that kiosks command allows retailers to potentially gain revenues and profits from underutilized spaces, and for brands to gain additional space in-store.
- Kiosks can provide the speed and convenience of shopping online, thus countering a factor that continues to threaten store visits.
- Kiosks can provide shoppers with new experiences that complement and enhance the overall shopper experience – thus offering the promise of keeping shoppers shopping in brick and mortar outlets.
Digital signage and improved technology are leading retailers and brands to develop more specific category solutions.
For example, kiosk technology allows the inclusion of barcode scanners and connections to mobile. This allows retailers to access ratings and reviews that are part of the shopper experience. Kiosks can also help make the in-store experience one that provides solutions that shoppers seek, such as viewing how certain paint would look in a room or how accessories can be matched to a certain wardrobe. Kiosks are meeting shoppers where in-store and providing the solutions shoppers demand.
Coinstar has recognized the use of kiosks as a shopper solution.
Coinstar is one of the largest operators of kiosks in the world, with over 20,000 Coinstar kiosks and 35,000 Redbox DVD kiosks. Coinstar recently announced a venture with PayPal that will now allow customers to add or withdraw money from their PayPal accounts using Coinstar machines. PayPal customers will enjoy the convenience of accessing and using their PayPal account in places where they already shop (typically a grocery store).
The benefit to Coinstar: The PayPal feature provides Coinstar the opportunity to expand the use of its kiosks while developing a greater presence in the mobile marketplace.
Coinstar has also identified six specific consumer sectors for an expansion of its retail business:
- Food & Beverage
The company is testing kiosk solutions in several of these areas. Current tests include coffee kiosks, food, and beauty products. Coinstar is also testing a feature that allows customers to unlock the value of unused gift cards.
Impactful design combined with technology is leading to kiosks that can offer unique solutions and experiences to shoppers. Maybe the food automat is not dead after all! After all, shoppers do get hungry.