For the past few years, there’s been a nasty little rumor going around that kiosks are dead. With the rise in popularity of mobile apps, some people are simplifying the picture to conclude that apps will soon replace kiosks completely. To which I say…
If kiosks are dead, we better get ready for the zombie apocalypse.
Roles of Kiosks
One reason for the false ‘kiosks are dead’ rumor is that people don’t fully understand all kiosks can do. Yes, they can share information and organize content like mobile apps can, but they also do much more.
Kiosks inspire action. They can give out room keys, tickets, coupons, or maps. They can scan bio-metrics and measure weights or sizes. Self-service kiosk software can even dispense items like soda in the case of the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine.
Kiosks also offer flexibility in relation to customer engagement. With the Blue Zebra interactive kiosks, consumers can search for specific legal information and then choose where that information is sent. They can instantly get a printout, a text message, or an email with useful legal tips and referrals for attorneys and related services.
The most important functionality that kiosks have over mobile phones deals with the proverbial ka-ching.
Unlike mobile apps, kiosk software allows users to insert cash or take out a credit card and swipe it through to make a purchase. Money changes hands with payment kiosks, which is not possible — at least not in an easy way — with mobile apps. The focus of mobile apps is more on researching and information gathering, while kiosks are used to inspire action and fulfill purchases…instantly.
The Stratosphere ticketing kiosk in Las Vegas allows customers to purchase tickets with a credit card or even with cash (and can receive change too.) That’s something a mobile app will never be able to do.
Shades of Gray
People are approaching the kiosk/mobile debate as black and white, when really it’s 50 shades of gray.
It’s not a zero-sum game — growth in one doesn’t lead to the downfall of the other. Actually, the two are best used together to create a comprehensive, omni-channel network.
Here’s why. Because of their widespread use, mobile devices can capture lots of information about a consumer’s preferences. When a mobile app passes that information to kiosk software, the kiosk can present relevant content to the user, like a coupon or offer to tip them into making a purchase. Vice versa, connecting mobile to a kiosk allows the mobile phone to learn the actions (read: purchase behaviors) of a consumer, and can tailor future messaging based on those behaviors.
The question becomes, how will you integrate the two? How will you blend the perfect shade of gray to enhance your customer engagement and in turn, build your brand?