The pressure for retailers is growing from finding human resources in a tight job market to the government raising the minimum wage. In 2019 the Ontario government will be once again raising the minimum wage from the recent $14 per hour hike to $15 an hour which is almost a 30% increase from the rate in 2017 at $11.60. Many retailers have been scrambling as to what to do. Eventually, these increases are going to spread throughout Canada and US.  In this article, I want to explore and initiate a conversation about the possibilities how digital signage kiosk for retailers can be incorporated to address these concerns.

Also, look at opportunities that they never considered before, especially about the capabilities of a digital signage kiosk to off-set the wage increase. The question is how viable is the medium to retailers to reduce labor costs and improve the shopping experience?

From my perspective, digital signage kiosks are the next evolving store fixtures for retail stores, next-in-line to their point-of-sale systems. I say this because it is an alternative tool that can do what the retailer expects each store associate to do:

  • - Merchandise
  • - Deliver information
  • - Inspire Shoppers
  • - Complete transactions

 

I think many of us already seen interactive touch displays perform these tasks and a variety of applications in the past decade from self-automatic check-out aisles to movie ticket kiosks. These applications have been adopted successfully in the past. The outcome for retailers to save on costs and offer greater convenience to their customers. With the labor market increasing to 30% it's more of a necessity for to adopt technology such as digital signage kiosk s to stay relevant and most of all to remain competitive.

Let's examine some retailers that are already adopting interactive Digital signage kiosks. Since I'm writing this blog post in Fort Lauderdale Airport waiting for my flight home, the first example that comes to mind is Merchandise dispensing vending machines. Typically they offer electronics like headphones and other small electronic peripherals often seen with the Best Buy kiosk in a public area such as airports, Just like the one I'm sitting across from at the moment.

In the very near future, we are going to see this concept developed further as digital signage kiosk expanding upon the product and services being offered, Which I will elaborate in a moment with further ideas. Undoubtedly, this provides retailers a broader reach to deliver without the typical labor cost associated with a traditional retail store.

Recently had the opportunity to try out one of the McDonald's digital signage kiosk in downtown Toronto, and I had a pretty good experience although I just found that the payment pin pad was a little bit too low. Although, I do understand that it has to be at a certain height to be accessibility compliant for those in wheelchairs.

Virtual Kiosk

Another example, one of our engineers brought this to my attention when he was traveling in the Middle East. Here's a picture of a video wall digital signage kiosk for doing your grocery shopping just outside of a busy transit station.

In this instance, we see a virtual shopping experience. The customers pick out the desired item from the interactive touchscreen; then the system populates into the grocery basket which is very similar to shopping online. Depending on the retailer you can either pick up your groceries or have them delivered right to your doorstep thanks to a digital signage kiosk Conveniently located in a busy transit station.

In my opinion, it's a significant investment in this configuration; it would have been more practical to have one big screen to grab the attention of passerby's along with additional kiosks for one-on-one transactions.   I cannot imagine people waiting to do their virtual grocery shopping when the digital signage kiosk is occupied by another user. Therefore, a more practical approach would be to have multiple smaller kiosks surrounding one large screen.

Dispensing digital kiosk

Best Buy vending machine

Now let's revisit and examine the Best Buy's vending machine format. These vending machines have been around for a few years. unlike the virtual digital signage kiosk example above,  this offer convenience for consumers with immediate delivery of products when you need a charger, headphones or any other electronic gizmo. The upside for the retailer - no cost for labor. Although, this inexpensive form of product distribution concept has not develope or evolved much over last few years.

A flurry of ideas has just occurred after pondering these two shopping digital kiosks shopping experiences which I will label as Merchandising dispensing (Best Buy Reference) the second a Total Virtual (Middle East grocery Application). As we examine These two different applications As it influenced It's not easy to see how a variety of these applications can be developed.

I stated to imagining a vending machine that sells other essentials such as the airplane pillow, aspirin, hand sanitizer, carry-on deodorant, perfume. Obviously, the items mentioned above are small enough to fit inside of the vending machine, and that could dispense quite easily. Most of all offer higher value to travelers.

I just had a eureka moment, imagine and virtual duty-free store or any virtual store for that matter.

Digital kiosk Retail assistant

R2-D2 From Star Wars

I started visualizing having a large kiosk where we can interact with a touchscreen and choose the item you wish to move into your digital shopping basket.

Does that mean we no longer need humans in retail? Not at all, in fact, they will play a more critical role. The store associates new purpose is to provide; direction, guidance, and influence throughout the shopping experience. Digital signage kiosk display becomes like your R2-D2 from Starwars the store clerk digital assistant if-you-will. It becomes this intelligent information hub Which has information and at the tips of its pixels such as:

  • - Inventory Sizes available
  • - Displaying colors and styles
  • - Specifications
  • - Features
  • - Display short feature videos
  • - POS - Shopping basket

 

Also, it will be able to project larger than lifesize products. Whether its clothes, accessories or service. An example of this product can be found on our website. Having the ability to animate these products or service on sizeable digital display it what is going to make these products so compelling and mesmerizing.

Unlike a conventional store; merchandising, managing inventory, limited shelf space or even loss prevention are constant challenges for retailers. When this technology is adopted, Many of these challenges will be minimized, because there are less physical products. I see this retail concept is limitless to the products and service that it can over.

We can also do the same for the vending machine without a glass viewing window to see the individual products. We replace it with an oversized digital display panel that would showcase the product with mouth water pictures and video. Making a selection is now more natural, merely touch the product picture to make your choice Essentially, these digital assets become new your packaging of the product. Also, this "digital packaging" that is animating on the digital signage kiosk can be displayed in several different languages.

What does all this cost?

  • - The cost pales in comparison the cost of:
  • - Lost revenue opportunities
  • - Expensive retail space
  • - Maintaining inventory
  • - Limited product knowledge

 

The cost varies from all the different sizes and configuration. I can tell you the starting cost is a couple of months salary of a full-time employee. Besides, these digital kiosk hubs are always ready to take the order. The best part of this technology is it doesn't mind working overtime without ever requiring a salary. This technology is something you can bank on.

The critical point I want to make here is that a retailer will now be in a much better position with a virtual digital signage kiosk offset the increased cost of labor without sacrificing customer service or experience. The other essential ingredients to make this successful are store associates to adopt their new role as brand/store ambassadors with lots of enthusiasm and personality. Their mission, to can guide the shopping journey for a more significant customer shopping experience.