5 Tips to Ensure Your Self-Serve Kiosk is a Success

Adding self-service tech can be a real boon for business — but only if you've done your research.
Approach new customer-facing technology — such as self-serve kiosks — with strategic planning. (Photo: Sahacha Nilkumhan/Shutterstock)

Are you taking advantage of self-service technologies at your small business? According to research from Bouncepad, three out of four consumers are more likely to visit a store where tech is part of the experience. What’s more, they report having a better customer experience if they can self-serve using tablets.

Adding self-service technology can be a real boon for your small business — but only if you’ve done your research and planning, said Craig Allen Keefner, executive director of the Kiosk Industry Association. NCR Silver asked Keefner to share his advice for how to make sure your small business’s kiosk project is a success.

craig keefner

“Have a clear idea of which benefit(s) you want to bring to your customers. Identify the purpose the self-service will serve.” -Craig Keefner (Photo: Craig Keefner)

Identify the purpose of your kiosk

Just as you need a business plan to effectively run your business, adding new customer-facing technology requires planning and strategy if it’s going to work. While a plan doesn’t guarantee a successful project, it certainly helps things go more smoothly.

Many business owners don’t fully think through everything they want their self-serve station to accomplish, said Keefner. “Have a clear idea of which benefit(s) you want to bring to your customers,” he said. “Identify the purpose the self-service will serve.”

Related: What is Design Thinking and How Can it Help Grow Your Business?

The requirements of your project will differ depending on what your goals are. For instance, a kiosk used for ordering food and taking payments will have different functionality requirements than one that serves as a product information guide.

Set a budget before you shop

According to Keefner, underfunding is the No. 1 reason kiosk projects fail for small businesses. “Figure out what your real budget is before shopping solutions,” he advised.

When creating a budget, remember to think beyond the cost of hardware. “The cost of the kiosk is just one component,” he said. “You’re going to have some type of touchscreen, some type of computer and some type of printer,” he said. Think through all the pieces you’ll need for your kiosk, from installation and internet service, to warranties, service packages and spare parts.

Don’t skimp on componentry

kiosk graphic

Make sure to research different kiosks and don’t be afraid to splurge on quality equipment. (Photo: Mirexon/Shutterstock)

Shopping around for the best deal is always a good practice — but remember, “you get what you pay for.” One of the reasons many kiosk projects fail is because business owners try to cut costs by going with cheap components instead of purpose-built solutions, said Keefner.

Always do your research and use quality components, he advised. The temptation is to save money now by going with the cheapest tablet you can find online, but it can end up being more expensive in the long run. Make sure you buy components that can support the functionality you want your kiosk to provide to your customers.

Check for regulation compliance

Keefner also said it’s critical to make sure your kiosk is compliant with local, state and federal regulations. If you fail to comply with these standards, it can cause liability issues for your business.

The specific requirements you need to comply with may vary depending on the purpose of your kiosk project, the types of services it offers and what technology it uses. A small business attorney can advise you on this.

Ensure integration with other business systems

No man is an island and neither should your self-serve kiosk be. When looking at various kiosk solutions, Keefner said it’s critical to make sure you find one that’s compatible with your existing business systems.

For example, a POS kiosk should integrate with your accounting and inventory systems, while a customer loyalty signup station should be linked to your CRM software. Otherwise, you could end up creating extra work for yourself by having to enter the same data more than once.

“Over the years, the kiosk industry has been beset by little projects that don’t get done well and they fail,” said Keefner. Instead of being subject to the same learning curve, learn from their mistakes to build a kiosk project that provides your customers — and you — with the best possible experience.

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