This article was first published in Kiosk Solutions.
How self-service payments can work harder to deliver new experiences and keep merchants and customers close.
There’s no doubt that these are exciting times for anyone involved in the kiosk business. Faster, more robust and lower cost technology plus online connectivity are opening up new ways of paying – including contactless and mobile - in even more convenient locations, inside and out.
This is creating new opportunities for merchants to use self-service and unmanned payments to reach new audiences, to extend selling times, to take the pressure off sales assistants and to reduce their costs and overheads. And there’s more scope for more innovative development too. There are now all sorts of pure play and hybrid unattended installations, complete with touchscreens and multimedia, empowering consumers with more speed and control across their retail sales journeys.
Attitudes are changing
As unattended sales points become more prolific, they are helping to change consumers attitudes to self-service. Millennials, in particular, like to do things instantly, to be in charge and do it themselves. Online shopping has made them really comfortable with searching, selecting goods and services and processing their own payments. For them, screens and keypads are the norm, and they’re eager to use the same types of interfaces at kiosks in busy bricks and mortar environments.
Merchants’ attitudes are also shifting. They now see the value in delivering new types of customer experience and service. From supermarkets with handheld scanners and self-service checkouts to automatic ticketing in transport and parking locations, to click and collect bookings in entertainment. Unattended is now a familiar and daily experience.
Unlocking hidden potential
Despite this success, current usage may only be a small part of unattended’s potential. So, what’s holding it back? It’s certainly not the technology. Next generation devices have never been so versatile, flexible, easy to integrate, durable, energy efficient or secure. But some merchants are wrestling with how to add self-service convenience without destroying the essential sales experience. They’re reluctant to explore kiosks because they’re worried about losing the close physical connection that keeps consumers loyal. Without direct contact, through a person or a sales point, how can they know their customer, add value and deliver the personal service that gives them a competitive edge? This is a challenge for some retailers, but here are some of the ways unattended solutions actually help strengthen, not erode customer closeness:
- Connecting kiosks
Contactless and NFC capabilities don’t just enable faster and mobile payment, they also create a way for unattended devices to communicate with users via their phones. And, with kiosks now able to connect directly to the Internet via Wi-Fi, GPRS as well as ISDN, there’s no reason why even remote locations can’t be online, delivering mobile loyalty and other seamless cloud-based services.
- Kiosks and omnichannel
Rather than running kiosks as isolated channels, they can be connected via payments to the wider ecosystem. To support this, UX unattended payments systems can be made available on a Payment as a Service gateway (PaaS). This allows them to be managed through the same merchant portal as other online and physical channels to provide a holistic view of all transactions and a seamless view of customer journeys. It also allows the same services to be deployed over entire merchant estates – online, in-store and unattended. And it provides a kiosk-based platform to deliver new omnichannel services e.g. self-service ordering and click and collect.
- Tokenisation keeping consumers close
Through a managed service, we can use tokenisation – where a secure customer identifier is automatically linked to the user’s payment mechanism – to track the consumer and their spending habits. In an omnichannel environment, this token can follow the customer across their journey and also be used to access seamless services like loyalty and rewards.