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What is a Digital Kiosk?

Starting a small business can be quite a difficult undertaking, especially without any help. Digital kiosks provide an excellent starting point for any small business-giving you a product that promotes your brand as well as offering a variety of useful applications. From secure transactions, to self-check-in, photo printing and vendor services, digital kiosks provide an inexpensive foothold to both promote your brand as well as provide your customer base with a user experience that caters to their specific needs.

What are kiosks used for?

The primary function of a kiosk is for branding and self-promotion. Since the kiosk is plainly visible, it can service as an intermediary between you and the customer, offering a platform for both information and other services, simplifying interactions for both you and your customers without you physically having to be at such a location. Of course there are also a large variety of other services they provide, such as Payment options, Check-in services, Branding and Promotion and Ordering Products. Payments are made easy with kiosks, providing NFC and other self pay options all with a secure line, ensuring that your information stays private while payments can be made quickly without any fuss. Ordering products can be accomplished through the same means, giving your customers access to digital menus that are simple and quick to navigate whether for vending purposes or more commercial applications. Check-ins and other self-service tasks are also simplified, since kiosks are prominently displayed in public view, they give your customer immense freedom in dictating their own schedule. And since they are displayed so publicly, your brand is front and center in public view.

Where do people interact with Kiosks?

Kiosks are generally placed in public areas such as malls, airports and grocery stores. These places tends to be heavily populated and will therefore assure that your brand is seen in a large, attractive space. In addition, kiosks are also invaluable for providing self-service options, allowing them to serve as intermediate vendors for a large selection of services and goods.  They are popular at fast food chains and quick service restaurants as they provide a multitude of self-pay options, giving these restaurants more freedom to operate more effectively and efficiently. Movie tickets can also be printed at kiosks, as well as bank statements and deposits, reducing the workload for surrounding employees. At malls and business offices, they serve as wayfinder stations, allowing people to easily navigate a given space. Beyond wayfinding and self-pay options, they can also be fitted with photo printing, making them quite useful in government buildings such as the DMV.

Different types of kiosks?

First, the two main categories when discussing kiosks would be outdoor and indoor kiosks. Outdoor kiosks are typically much larger, and more robust as they must weather constant use as well as the elements, where as indoor kiosks carry the luxury of being either large or small, for the user’s convenience, as they are protected from the constant punishment of the outdoors. Beyond that, kiosks are separated by three common types such as freestanding, wall mounted and tablet kiosks. Freestanding is the most common in an outdoor retail space such as a grocery store or the mall. The name refers to its ability to stand up on it’s own without being mounted. These types of kiosks provide the bulk of most kiosks, handling nearly every single task that a kiosk can physically do. After freestanding would be wall mounted kiosks, which as its name implies, is mounted to a wall for easy use. These are typically found at banks, or the movie theater or many public places, able to provide self-pay options. Lastly are tablet kiosks, typically the smallest in comparison to the other two. These are mainly used in large offices as intermediaries for self-check in, but they also can be used for other features such as ordering from Quick Service or photo printing.

Non Digital Kiosk Types:

For those who want a cheaper alternative or want the ease of just a more simplistic kiosk, there are non-digital variants. Non-digital kiosks still provide an excellent focal point for branding and promotion, as they are widely placed in public areas such as shopping malls, public transit and quick service restaurants. The advantage of these is that they offer a large area for your advertisement and brand, without the added costs of having to maintain a digital kiosk with the added software.  

The Difference between Kiosk and Booths

The main difference between a kiosk and a booth is simply their structure. Booths are typically open on one side, providing a small enclosed structure where as a kiosk is usually freestanding, sometimes with an enclosure but often times without. The enclosure is what separates the two as kiosks are typically displayed openly where as most booths have some sort of covering that shields them from the outside.

Sizes of Kiosks

Digital kiosks vary along a wide variety of sizes. On the extreme small end, you have a height of 13-16 inches x 13-23 inches. From that, you have 49 inches tall with a width of 10 inches-this is the medium or middle size. On the large end you have 70 inches tall with a width of 28 inches, this can even extend to a much larger size of 90 inches by 44 inches. And of course, a custom kiosk can be built with any size specification in between.

What are common features of a digital kiosk

Common features of a digital kiosk would be software, the digital interface and usually the inclusion of a NFC or secure pay function. Software is the primary feature as the software comprises of a large portion of the kiosk’s costs and function. In line with that, the interface is secondary, it’s quality in direct relation to the kiosk’s base software. Digital kiosks will also typically include a touch screen, though the quality of the touch screen’s interface will vary depending on the kiosk’s base software.

Pros & Cons of Digital Kiosks:

Pros

  •       Easy to Use: Since much of its functionality is readily visible, digital kiosks are easy to navigate and use for the average consumer.
  •      Cost effective: Compared to hiring additional personal to process payments or handle check-in services, kiosks save both time and money for the business and other employees.
  •    Utility: Since the kiosk is effectively a computer, it offers a wide variety of services that help the consumer with their needs.
  •   Easy to locate: Since many kiosks are employed as wayfinders, their design and bright screens make them easy to locate especially in dark places.

Cons

  •      Not personal-Although they provide excellent utility, digital kiosks are still just a machine and overall cannot replace the benefits of direct customer interaction.
  •       Some users are afraid of tech-Although it is easy to use by modern standard, the touch screens and interface might be a bit too overwhelming for individuals unfamiliar with technology.
  •    Software can be expensive to maintain-Although it provides a multitude of utility, the software is nearly half the price of the actual kiosk itself. Maintenance of the software is equally as pricey and it can be costly to maintain if not careful.

Common Questions About Kiosks:

What is a self-order Kiosk?

A self-order kiosk is a kiosk that you can simply walk up to and place an order without any assistance. These usually are digital, with either a digital or non-digital keypad, allowing the user to order on their own. Since these are generally commercial, almost all self-order kiosks are equipped with NFC and secure pay functions to protect their transactions. Additional equipment can be installed such as a ADA navigation devices, bill and coin acceptors/dispensers and receipt printers.

What is a touch screen Kiosk?

A touch screen kiosk refers to a variety of digital kiosks with touch screen functionality. This can range widely between larger models designed for wayfinding and branding, like you would commonly find in a mall or commercial outlet, to smaller models that many corporate offices use for self-check-in. Touch screen offers users a quicker way to navigate through the functionalities of a kiosk when compared to the non-digital options, but they do have higher upkeep cost instead.

What is Kiosk Mode?

Kiosk mode refers to a specific mode that locks the kiosk to run only one type of software. This prevents your kiosk from being tampered with either by unaware customers or bored employees. Kiosk mode is available in nearly all operating software, allowing a kiosk to run the program of your choice with an emphasis on higher security.

How much do digital Kiosks Cost?

Digital kiosks vary largely in price due primarily to the software demands. In general, a medium to large sized digital kiosk will cost around $2,500-this price includes rights to the management software, installation and service contract. This price varies depending on the style, size and number of kiosks ordered. Since digital kiosks require software to run, it is typically much cheaper to order them in bulk then smaller numbers as many companies will offer significant discounts for bulk orders due to the software demands. In general, for a single kiosk, the price will be anywhere from $1,000-3,500.

Brands that use digital kiosks successfully

Several companies utilize kiosks in a widely successful manner, allowing them to serve as intermediaries to the customer while having a hands-free approach.

  • Redbox is one such company, with kiosks available near major grocery outlets, they easily allow rentals of movies and video games for a modest fee all with just digital kiosk interaction.
  • Coinstar operates in the same capacity, providing kiosks near grocery outlets and supermarkets, with the simple service of exchanging your coins into bills.
  • Wendy’s and Mcdonalds are starting to utilize digital kiosks for almost all their in restaurant purchases, allowing the customer to simply purchase their meal without having to wait in line.
  • Walgreens provides digital photo printing services with their in store kiosks, all without the fuss of having to wait in line.

Digital kiosks offer a versatile platform for both your brand and accessibility for the user. As their popularity increases, they provide an excellent, hands-free approach to your business while giving your users the interaction they desire on their own terms.

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