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Unattended payment station
Retail / PaaS / Insights

Payments anytime anywhere

Andrew Banks
Head of Unattended & Platinum Retail Sales, Verifone UK & Ireland

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:

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

The great thing is that it’s not just retailers who will benefit; smart merchants across a variety of different markets already recognise the value this brings, and are eager to exploit kiosks to reduce friction and boost interaction, for example:

Fast food

Combining contactless acceptance with connected omnichannel platforms allows customers to order on their mobile, check their order and pay at kiosks using their phone. Subsequent orders are sent to the food prep area where the transaction is processed and consolidated into the same back office system as the counter-based POS system. 

Entertainment 

Omnichannel kiosks let customers order and pay more conveniently in-venue, online and then collect from the kiosk with access to reward and loyalty services. 

Specialist vending

We’re not just talking chocolate bars. Self-service can be used to create new low-cost business models for lots of specialist merchants – from self-service bars to intelligent and automated 24-hour Laundrettes – where devices not only handle contactless and mobile payments but also keep track of stock control and purchase patterns.

Airports

As well as allowing self-service check-in, unattended payment kiosks could be used at airports to pay for additional extras including excess baggage, last minute seat changes and to pre-order meals on flights or book lounges and allow travellers to access travel information, to participate in airline surveys, loyalty and promotions.

Mobile payment
Next generation devices have never been so versatile.

Opening up service capability

Through a PaaS gateway, kiosks software can be easily updated over the cloud. And it won’t be long before customer-facing service apps will also be delivered that way too. This will offer new levels of flexibility, allowing services to be switched on and off, localised and customised to suit seasons, locations and events.

Up until recently, the only way to do this on an unattended payment device was to write a new code, which would have to go through accreditation. And because it was contained with the payment mechanism, every change would have to be recertified. By unbundling payments from the service apps, a separate environment can be provided, which allows kiosk developers to build and experiment with new customised experiences and user journeys. All this takes is really easy programing language like HTML and open source.

Creating new revenue models

Third-party applications and services can be used on unattended devices to add functionality that’s like a retailer’s ‘app store’ for POS. This can enable the rapid introduction of cloud-based, on-demand services such as loyalty, gift and personalisation. It can also bring more agile services, new levels of engagement, and allow dialogue and feedback with the customer. Delivering the same type of software as we see in POS systems straight to the kiosk to drive fast, customisable and secure promotional services.

This functionality can also unlock kiosks for new types of open-loop collaboration between merchants, to create new revenue streams and boost loyalty. For example, parking meters that display local retailer promotions when shoppers pay to park, cinemas that deliver local restaurant promotions at in-foyer ticket machines, and fashion outlets that supplement in-store kiosk ordering systems with discounts to local lifestyle and leisure events. The potential is endless.

All of this new functionality allows kiosks to truly bridge the gap between physical and online/mobile world – adding real value to omnichannel consumers and new opportunities for retailers. Above all, it also helps to fulfil the user’s desire to be in control and helps retailers take back the customer relationship in what has traditionally been a ‘hands-off’ channel.

How this impacts
Mobile Point of Sale
Mobile payment at POS

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