How to know if a market is ready for self-service kiosks?
Pretty much every week at the moment, I get contacted by businesses wanting to set-up a self-service kiosk product for a new market. Even today, with the recent growth that the kiosk industry has seen it doesn’t take long to identify a region or a customer group that currently has no access to a self-service kiosk. As we’ve seen before the business case for offering kiosks is compelling, but that doesn’t always mean it is the right course of action. How to decide then whether your self-service kiosk idea is a good one or not?
The logical place to begin when answering this question would seem to be with the customers, but in my opinion, the key to self-service kiosks lies with the business service providers. Whether you’re considering a retail kiosk, a bill payment kiosk, a money transfer kiosk or a banking kiosk, you have little chance of getting the kiosks launched without the cooperation (or preferably the backing) of the retailer, biller, remittance provider or bank. Although the end users may be the ones who benefit and are certainly the ones who will need to change their habits, it is the service providers who need to make the investment and foot the bill for the kiosk hardware, kiosk software, operating costs etc… If there is little or no appetite from a service provider then the project might not be successful.
The difficulty here is that shops, electricity providers, banks and others can be slow to catch on and reluctant to make the first move. The focus of a fledgling kiosk deployment should therefore be to convince and convert these service providers that kiosks are needed by their customers and that the kiosks can pay for themselves through reduced staff costs, increased revenue and improvements in customer loyalty.
Smart phone have often been described as mini, portable self-service kiosks. In 2014, the number of smartphone users worldwide totalled 1.75 billion. The effect of smart phones on a self-service kiosk deployment is therefore pretty massive. However, although some might argue that if the world is using smart phones then kiosks might no longer be needed, that is not always the case. In order for smart phones to be useful is self-service a business needs to rely on all customers having their app installed. With self-service kiosks this particular issue doesn’t exist and providing a kiosk might be a great way to convince your customers of the benefit of self-service without having that extra hurdle. Indeed, in some cases beacon technology combined with kiosk software could be a great way to promote your smartphone app itself.
Will it work?
Once you’ve got your service providers and end users on your side, all that remains is to put your end-to-end kiosk service together and make sure that it works. Whilst there are a number of kiosk software providers with global reach who can develop your kiosk application and support you moving forward, it is always a good idea to make sure you have local hardware support available.
A key indicator of market readiness for self-service kiosks is whether there is the hardware provision and infrastructure available to make the project work. Who will attend your kiosk if it is broken? Who will empty the cash from the kiosk? Will the connectivity infrastructure support the data transfer?
These are all questions to consider when deciding whether your market is ready. Unfortunately not all markets are there yet, but with the benefits being felt across the globe is it not long before your market will be up-to-speed and you may even be the one to get them there.