Today, retailers and suppliers are operating self-service checkouts as well as kiosks and vending units to get an ever expanding list of products into the hands of consumers in a wide variety of locations.
“Consumers are more accepting of these automated technologies because they just want the stuff at a good price and really do not care if they get it from a piece of technology or a person,” Richard Feinberg, a retail analyst, told The Indianapolis Star.
There are a few factors that make it worth the while of service providers to add their categories to kiosks. These characteristics include:
1. Small size (portability is essential)
2. High margin (this began with cigarettes and soft drinks)
3. Impulse (not just immediate purchase — the Internet can do that — immediate gratification, too)
4. Additive to store sales (such as Zoom Systems’ electronics accessories in department stores, not snack machines in drug stores)
5. Shelf stable (crabs notwithstanding)
These categories will have natural lifespans. DVD machines have proven to be channel killers, at least until they themselves are killed by streaming. Newspaper boxes, an early concept, are similarly challenged by mobile and Internet news. To combat this, versatility is important, such as DVD machines that burn disks on demand, coin-counters that are free when shoppers accept gift cards, and product kiosks that can distribute coupons.
Expect to see more experimentation, such as discount luxury brands (www.chirpchic.com), and co-branding to grow retail footprint and draw traffic (Blockbuster Express by NCR and Best Buy Express by Zoom).