Retail kiosks enhance customer service, support store staff
Everybody has been there. You’re in a store, all the sales associates are busy with other customers and all you want is to know the price of an item. Most people don’t speak barcode, so you either wait your turn or leave the store in frustration. Either scenario is a disaster for the store owner because there’s a chance that the customer may never return. Retail kiosks can prevent that from happening.
The self-service machines have been around for a while and now range from simple barcode scanning price checkers to elaborate interactive venues that can do everything from offering diners a way to order a meal, to selecting options for a new car, to providing tourists advice on where to eat and sleep. For merchants, retail kiosks can be game changers.
Even though kiosks have been around for decades – they first appeared on the scene in the 1970s – their use in retail was really jumpstarted by the pandemic.
In February 2019, retail changed forever in many ways. The pandemic and subsequent store closures pushed retailers to adapt to little- or no-contact ways of doing business. E-commerce, which had been growing steadily for decades, experienced three to four years’ worth of growth in just a matter of months. Programs such as buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) and curbside pickup followed. “Essential” retailers such as grocery and hardware stores adopted new touchless ways of doing business. Kiosks were a big part of a way to serve in-store customers without risking spreading the virus.
Admit it. How many of you, after paying cash for a purchase, thought twice about reaching into that change-dispensing cup for the coins?
Many grocery chains had adopted self-checkout years earlier, but it was the pandemic that pushed big boxes like Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s into the practice. Informational retail kiosks and self-checkout not only improved customer service but also took pressure off often-over-taxed store staff. So, the kiosks help both consumers and merchants.
Catering to Customers
Putting a retail kiosk in a store probably seems like a customer convenience. They are simple and quick ways shoppers can verify the prices of items without individual price tags. Really, not many retailers place price tags on items nowadays anyway, relying instead on barcodes. Shoppers today can use kiosks to calculate the cost of an item or an entire project.
This satisfies customers on many levels.
Convenience – This has always been a big deal to shoppers, but it has become even more important over the past couple of years.
“Time is a precious commodity for today’s consumers,” National Retail Federation Vice President for Research Development and Industry Analysis Mark Mathews said. “Shoppers are busier with commuting to work, dealing with family obligations, or catching up on schoolwork, among other things. Naturally, convenience factors are playing a larger role in their shopping experience.”
The NRF’s Consumer View reports that 83% of consumers say convenience is more important to them now than five years ago. It also shows that:
- 40% of in-store shoppers said checkout convenience is the most important
- 93% say they are more likely to shop at a store based on convenience
- 97% of shoppers backed out of a purchase because the process was inconvenient
Retail kiosks can help create the convenience that helps keep consumers in your store. Satisfying today’s shoppers takes a blend of technology and good old-fashioned customer service.
“Consumers expect more from merchants today. Due in part to the evolution of retail, which now offers more personalized choices from e-commerce companies, shoppers want similar features from their neighborhood stores,” says Dan Nesmith, president of Paladin Data Corporation, a leader in retail management technology. “Stores need to embrace new ideas and all that technology offers.”
Retail kiosks do more than satisfy impatient shoppers. They can complement store staff and assist them in their regular inventory and pricing duties. Kiosks don’t need a paycheck, health benefits or vacations. They are always working and help enhance any store’s customer service.
Having dependable customer service is important today when good, reliable employees are hard to find. Retail kiosks also free up staff to help more customers. Think about it. A customer asks to check a price deep down an aisle. Instead of an employee taking the part up to the front counter and using a checkout scanner to find the price, the customer takes the product in question to a conveniently located kiosk and scans the barcode to check the price. No sweat!
The same goes for staff during stocking or just cleaning up the shelves. Customers often take products off the shelves or out of bins, examine them and often put them back in a different location. The workers can scan the products and replace them without extra footwork.
Shopping today is as much about convenience as it is about price and product. Self-service is the new normal for many consumers and retail kiosks can improve any store’s shopping experience.