Consumers are increasingly comfortable engaging with businesses digitally. Smartphone users in the United States now number nearly 300 million, and they use their mobile devices to shop, pay, and schedule delivery or curbside pickup. It’s quick and easy to find what you need and do business with just a few taps. Industry analysts now see those behaviors carrying over to in-store experiences through the growing use of self-service solutions. IndustryARC analysts predict that the self-service kiosk market will grow to more than $30.3B at a CAGR of more than 7.3 percent from 2021 to 2026.
Factors in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as store closures and supply chain disruptions, slowed self-service kiosk implementation growth. However, the number of implementations is now growing again. There’s more driving that growth than solely delivering the experiences many customers prefer. Self-service solutions also contribute to more efficient, cost-effective operations in a range of vertical markets, from retail and restaurants to entertainment, banking, healthcare, transportation, tourism, and education. Self-service solutions are also helping some businesses operate during the labor shortage, allowing managers to assign employees to essential activities. For example, employees can cover the restaurant kitchen, retail replenishment, and problem-solving, while self-service kiosks cover order-taking, payment transactions, and assisting customers with wayfinding.
Additionally, when kiosks involve ordering and payment, businesses find that when their customers can take their time, easily add customizations, and place orders without perceived judgment from counter staff or other customers, sales can increase by an average of 30 percent.
The Building Blocks of a Self-Service Solution
Value-added resellers (VARs) providing self-service solutions know each implementation is unique. Some clients will want kiosks to perform straightforward tasks, and you may be able to find an off-the-shelf solution that you can update with branding elements to meet their needs.
Other use cases, however, require you to build a custom solution with the specific features your client requests. Working with software partners, you provide an application specifically for the use case, and you choose the touchscreen interface and other hardware to deliver optimal performance in the client’s environment.
Therefore, smart partnerships are critical to your business. You need reliable vendor partners who can fill orders for custom solutions on time. If you experienced the impact of production and delivery disruptions during the pandemic, you know you also want to consider the vendor’s business model. It’s wise to choose vendors with control over development, manufacturing, and logistics rather than those who rely on contract manufacturers or partners in different regions to fill orders.
Also, look for hardware partners that give you design flexibility. Some vendors produce hardware for specific operating systems. However, finding a partner with a line that includes compatibility with Windows, Android or iOS, as well as products designed specifically for the verticals you serve, such as retail, transportation, or healthcare, will allow you to create self-service solutions for any client’s IT environment.
The Key to Successful Self-Service Solution Implementation
Unless you are working with a large business or enterprise, few companies interested in deploying self-service kiosks have the IT resources or expertise to understand how they’ll work with their point of sale (POS) or business management system. Furthermore, using self-service solutions may be uncharted territory, and your clients may be looking to you for best practices. Be prepared to take a consultative approach to sales and provide advice and recommendations throughout implementation to help your clients see the greatest return from their investments.
Also, urge your clients to take a broader view of their operations and define the role self-service solutions will – or could -- play. It is important to remind clients that self-service won’t appeal to every customer, especially after COVID-19 lockdowns when many people had little human interaction. Taking a holistic approach to modernizing operations and interactions will ensure CX is optimized for all customers.
Capitalize on the Opportunity
As more businesses and organizations explore how self-service solutions can enhance their operations and offer customers digital options to interact in brick-and-mortar facilities, your opportunity to provide touchscreen kiosks will grow. You may find your niche providing these solutions in tourism, transportation, gambling, and casino, or across verticals with ADA compliance or training solutions.
Furthermore, in verticals where self-service kiosks are already common, you may find new opportunities to implement touchscreen solutions to solve persistent pain points. For example, self-service solutions can address wayfinding in malls or department stores or give in-store shoppers the ability to order “online-only” items.
Educate yourself on your market, build smart partnerships, and help your clients see how kiosks can benefit their businesses. Providing your clients with helpful advice and industry-leading technology will result in greater ROI for them – and could contribute to growth for your VAR business.
Bill Nulf has over 25 years of experience leading sales, marketing and business development initiatives for business and industrial hardware technology and consumables solutions. Since joining MicroTouch in February 2021, Bill has constructed a channel team with industry-experienced members. Before MicroTouch, Bill held senior leadership roles at Henkel Electronics, Christie Digital, and Elo, where he built channel sales and marketing programs. Bill also has extensive experience in securing large OEM and end-user programs. He has BA in Business Administration from Eastern Washington University and an Executive MBA from Southern Methodist University. Bill also served in the Air Force Reserve for 20 years.