To catch the attention of smartphone-savvy shoppers, in-store kiosks must be switched on to customers’ needs
This month Tesco launched transactional kiosks in store, giving customers access to the full F&F clothing range.
Tesco is trialling the kiosks, which are powered by ecommerce solutions provider Venda, in three of its stores: Coventry, Woolwich and Pitsea in Essex.
The kiosks allow customers to buy items that are either out of stock or not in that particular store, and choose to have them delivered to a home address or collected at a later date in store.
Customers can view stock availability, make a purchase, receive promotional offers and use the chip and PIN facility without having to input additional billing details.
Tesco isn’t the first high street fashion retailer to put kiosks in store - Marks & Spencer tested them in six stores in February 2011. Other retailers have chosen to implement alternative technology strategies, such as allowing customers to use smartphones to scan product labels or use tweet mirrors to encourage consumer interaction.
Michael Ross, director of ecommerce consultancy eCommera, says: “If all of your customers are walking around the store with smartphones, they may think of kiosks as a little bit twee. They will be aware of your website and more than likely have been on it - kiosks will appeal to a less digitally savvy customer.”
Independent retailer adviser Guy Hipwell agrees that while kiosks will survive in one format or another, retailers also need to ensure they are thinking about mobile. “If a retailer can give the customer a great mobile experience, it makes it very easy for them to do what they want to do. That way, customers don’t need to go to a kiosk to order an item; they can do it themselves on their mobile where all of their data will already be stored.”
However, Ross does think setting up kiosks is a good move for Tesco. “Launching in a few stores is not a massive investment and could be a good low-cost customer acquisition tool. Part of the testing process will be to quantify the value of them - retailers need to understand exactly what their customers use kiosks for, whether that be engagement, service or sales.”
Craig Smith, programme manager at M&S, was instrumental in the launch of its kiosks and says the look and feel is vital to create an engaging experience. “Even the word kiosk gives the wrong impression - we wanted to reinvent the experience and make it attractive and appealing using touchscreen devices.”
M&S uses Amplience technology, which uses on-screen clickable hotspots to create an interactive experience, on features such as Stylish Room Ideas, a showcase of M&S product which customers can click on and buy.
Smith says that while these immersive experiences will increase average order value, the primary function of kiosks is to provide a browse-and-order point that allows customers to see the full M&S range.
A mistake made by retailers when first installing kiosks in the past was to not train and inform the in-store staff, which led to many ending up unused or even switched off. As Ross points out: “It is critical to inform staff and incentivise them to encourage customers to use the kiosks and not feel threatened by them.”
While it remains to be seen how effective kiosks will be in terms of sales, if positioned and displayed correctly they could provide another channel to showcase the full product selection and increase customer service.