As prospects for certain classes of kiosks dim, the future of automated retail has never looked brighter.
A fork in the road for traditional kiosks
Traditional electronic kiosks have gone the way of ubiquity or obsolescence.
Some kiosks drew too much traffic, requiring busy individuals to wait in line. Financial services solved this problem by scaling up–there are now nearly 500K ATMs in the US. Airlines solved this problem by bulking up–there are now commonly dozens of ticket dispensers in airport check-in lines.
Other kiosks drew little traffic, yielding added space and maintenance costs. As a result, kiosks providing entertainment, health and beauty information have diminished in mass merchandise retailers like Walmart and Target.
After a decade, Google Product Search is transitioning from a free organic search tool into a paid inclusion service called Google Shopping. This new pay-for-placement has generated its share of detractors:
Google is compromising its objectiveness by moving towards a pay-for-placement service. This change has the potential to hurt small retailers if they cannot afford to pay for placement.
–Max Goldberg, The Radical Clarity Group (courtesy RetailWire)
What burns me the most is without us, Google would have no business. They use our content to make money as they have no original content to contribute. And now they want to charge us a fee. Do no evil my arse.
Local businesses, like national businesses, have a bipolar relationship with coupons. They love them for bringing new business, and hate them for bringing bad business. Coupons and similar discounts don’t always pay out. But planned thoughtfully, they can indeed drive higher sales and profits.
How do you know the right thing to do? Here are principles…a half dozen reasons to fold ’em and a half dozen to hold ’em. Let’s use a prototypical small business, say, a restaurant. Special thanks to Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor, for help with the first list:
A half dozen reasons to ditch coupons: if you have these symptoms, discontinue use