This article is provided by Reshift Media, a Canadian-based digital marketing and development organization specializing in retail businesses.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant emphasis was placed on continuously improving the in-store experience, but in the last year and a half, with a shift to a stronger digital focus, many retailers might be questioning what their next steps should be. With in-store shopping on a steady incline as restrictions are lessening, the solution (depending on your industry) may be incorporating both the in-person experience with digital solutions. One way to do so is with the use of self-serve, retail kiosks.
What is a Retail Kiosk?
Kiosks offer several digital solutions to customers, and this will vary depending on the type of goods or services you offer. Usually small in size and positioned within a brick-and-mortar shop, retail kiosks offer a customer the ability to digitally engage with a brand, either through purchasing items, finding out more information, picking up online orders, etc.
The kiosk market continues to experience immense growth, as it was valued at USD $20.29B in 2019 and is projected to reach USD $51.05B by 2028. While the industry saw a dip of 11.8% in 2020 when compared to the average year-on-year growth in previous years, numbers shot right back up in 2021 and are predicted to continue to grow, as the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) within the 2021-2028 period is 12.3%.
One of the major factors that contribute to this growth is overall demand, which existed pre-pandemic and will continue to exist post-pandemic. Kiosks offer a range of personalized and customizable options for brands to connect with their customers. Incorporating kiosks into an in-store environment can offer many benefits, including improving the customer experience.
Kiosks can improve BOPIS strategies
Buy online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) strategies have been extremely popular options for retailers during the pandemic, particularly with pick-up options like curbside pick-up or designated pick-up areas within a store that customers can visit directly upon entering. Within the various ordering and pick-up methods that retailers have incorporated, the common thread amongst all BOPIS options has been convenience, which continues to influence shoppers. In fact, 83% of consumers say this remains an important factor when shopping.
As consumers begin incorporating more in-store shopping into their routine, the expectations that have developed over the pandemic will carry with them. Continuing to offer BOPIS options to customers will help retailers meet these expectations, and this is where kiosks can be extremely helpful. Since many customers who opt for a BOPIS option may come in the store to pick up their items, the process must be quick. Customers do not want to have to wait in line or for long periods, especially when that’s the exact opposite of what BOPIS is all about.
If customers can walk to a kiosk in a retail store, check-in via an automated service, and pick up their purchased item within a couple of minutes, this can create a significantly positive experience. Not only will offering this attract more customers inside, but it may even lead to more purchases through this option, especially when more than half of consumers say their purchases are influenced by convenience alone.
The benefits of the omnichannel experience
Blending physical and digital options is something that consumers are going to look out for when considering in-store shopping. This is largely because eCommerce has exponentially increased in popularity throughout the pandemic, so much so that Canadians increased their monthly online shopping spend by over $2 million when compared to pre-pandemic levels.
As a result, omnichannel commerce is something that can be extremely appealing to customers, especially when shopping in-store, as it can provide a seamless experience between the physical and the digital. For instance, if a customer shops within a brick-and-mortar store and discovers that their desired item is out of stock, having the option available to purchase that item online at that very moment (through the self-serve kiosk), is something that can significantly boost sales. This also provides retailers with the chance to offer additional products, which customers can easily add on to their purchase during check out.
Reduces overall time spent
Time is valuable and customers (both before the pandemic and now) do not like waiting in lineups for very long. Especially now, as buying online is an extremely fast option for consumers, patience in a brick-and-mortar store is not going to be very high.
Quick and efficient solutions are significant factors in the shopping experience, especially since a leisurely walk around a store is not necessarily attractive right now for consumers. The ability for them to pick up their item and quickly pay in-store, which is something that can be achieved through kiosks, can provide an extremely positive overall shopping experience. Self-service kiosks, similar to what you would find in a grocery store, can allow the consumer to scan, add in their payment details, and leave. This reduction in the time spent waiting, will improve how they view a retailer, and it can influence subsequent purchases.
Generate interest and engagement with your brand
Maintaining customer interest is something exceedingly valuable for retailers. Of course, eCommerce has created a world of personalized experiences for customers that are extremely appealing to them, but how can retailers translate that back to their physical store? One of the benefits of a kiosk is that it offers an immersive environment for customers, as they are able to engage with products while they shop. Already, 80% of shoppers use a mobile device while they shop in-store, so providing a kiosk that can offer some of the same options their mobile device provides (such as price comparison or inventory) can increase their overall shopping experience and change the way they engage with your products.
An option to strengthen customer experience is by allowing customers the ability to visit a retailer’s eCommerce site while they are in the store. While this would enhance an omnichannel experience, it would also allow customers to feel like their shopping experience is unique. Remember, it’s important to merge the online experience with the in-store experience, so having this option available to customers can be extremely appealing. Kiosks are fully equipped to handle transactions and item searches, so blending the two and offering them to customers can make a world of difference to their shopping behaviour.
In-store purchasing is not going anywhere, but it is important for retailers to acknowledge the success of eCommerce and digital solutions, and try to incorporate them into their physical brick-and-mortar locations to improve the overall in-store experience.
About Reshift Media
Reshift Media is a long-time partner of the Retail Council of Canada. The company is a Toronto-based digital marketing and development organization that provides leading-edge social media, search and website/mobile development services to retailers around the world. Please visit www.reshiftmedia.com to learn more.