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Costs and Other Considerations of Touch-Screen Kiosks

February 22, 2019

It's undeniable that we're living in a fast-paced society, and this is fueled first and foremost by technology. The quicker and easier completing a task is, the happier people are. So kiosks are becoming ever more popular. At Yeti, we keep getting requests to build custom kiosks and have developed quite the expertise. Below, we outline some of the considerations we take when determining the cost of these projects.

Countless restaurants and stores across the country use kiosks, and this has quickly diminished the number of cashiers at locations across the U.S. Kiosks are a powerful tool, and they create an exceptional indoor experience for users. Besides automated checkouts, kiosks also welcome and direct individuals to engage with them in ways traditional signage never could.This segment is likely to grow immensely in the future. A report published byGrand View Researchanticipates the digital signage market will grow to more than $31 billion by 2025.

Let's look atMcDonald’s to understand this expansion. In 2015, the fast food giant began rolling out ordering kiosks in its U.S. locations. The company announced in 2018 that it plans to continue implementing machines in 1,000 stores every quarter for two years in an effort to cover most of the chain's 14,000 locations. The ultimate goal of kiosks — in combination with mobile ordering — is to help the company streamline the ordering process in order to regain some of the $2.7 million it lost in sales.

Kiosks are great for increasing customer satisfaction by creating a quick, easy way for customers to order items and find information. They aren't the only ones who benefit from this, as business owners can lower costs by implementing kiosks rather than on-the-clock employees.

Why Are Kiosks a Good Choice Now?

Customers' expectations are changing, as we now have information at our fingertips. If customers are curious about something, they're going to pull out their phones and look it up. But if customers are checking information on a competitor's website, you just failed. Having a touch-screen kiosk allows you — the vendor — to control that experience, and it gives you an opportunity to engage with your customers.

In terms of mapping or providing information, customers are expecting to walk up to a screen and touch it. We are all trained to do this with our smartphones and tablets.

It's crucial to consider hidden costs that could arise during the design and management process of a touch-screen kiosk, though. Sure, these machines are extremely convenient for organizations and customers, but they can cost a pretty penny. In fact, the price tag on a kiosk can range from $1,000 to $100,000 and upward if you need highly customized software or robotic vending.

The lesson here? Kiosks are switching up the customer experience game, but it's crucial to gauge the options you have before implementing one.

What to Consider When It Comes to Cost

If you'd like to roll out a kiosk or two, it's crucial to understand the various components this beneficial system can offer. Yeti has built more touch-screen kiosks than any other shop. Based on our experience, here are a few things to keep in mind as you consider your kiosk project:

Software

There are many software options for self-service kiosks, including custom and out-of-the-box solutions. This software can enable custom digital signage, remote analytics, wayfinding capabilities, and much more. When choosing which direction you will go with software, consider the following:

  • User interface: Do you want a user interface that people can navigate with ease? Unfortunately, many of the out-of-the-box systems we've evaluated just aren't designed with the user experience in mind. Instead, opt for kiosk systems that allow you to integrate custom designs. This helps you test and personalize signage and the experience so you can best suit each user's needs.
  • Integration: Does your kiosk need to be location-aware? An e-commerce store? A barcode reader? A receipt printer? Or perhaps a robotic vending component? These are all common integrations we've worked through with clients, and they require some form of software to provide the connective tissue. When evaluating kiosk options, consider whether you can get these out of the box or you need to build them on a framework.
  • Capabilities: Does your kiosk provide maps that help users navigate a venue? You could implement digital maps or wayfinding that can direct users to where they want to go. Does it need to pull upcoming events or show directory information? Connecting that kiosk to a content management system could be valuable. Is there third-party data that should show flight statuses or the weather? If so, the kiosk could tap into third-party APIs to get this information.
  • Licensing fees: Will there be monthly fees associated with the software that runs your kiosk (or the security measures implemented to protect it)? Some of the companies we've spoken with are racking up hefty monthly bills for kiosks that don't work well and are outdated.

Maintenance

Many of us are familiar with a specific type of kiosk: the airport check-in machine. The process of moving through an airport is rapidly becoming high-tech. The U.S. saw a 50 percent increase in automated processing at airports, including kiosks, from 2013 to 2017. Instead of having hundreds of people stand in line to see a representative at the counter, each passenger can simply go to a kiosk, scan their passport, print their tickets, and be on their way.

When an issue occurs with the software, though, it can hinder the experience of everyone in line. When a kiosk malfunctions during the scanning process, it can error out the system, and finding someone around to troubleshoot this isn't always easy. If this happens during busy times, people will be forced to wait in line for an attendant, which drastically slows down the process.

Businesses considering installing a kiosk need to figure out how frequently their kiosk will need to be updated. Other questions include the following: Who will complete the updates on the system? Is it in a location that could be prone to vandalism? What kind of resources do you need to keep it stocked? Will the kiosk print coupons that require regular paper and ink refills? There are numerous remote monitoring options that can be used to update software and hardware statuses to help you monitor when maintenance is needed.

Hardware

Hardware components are a crucial part of a kiosk's success. Compared to the software segment, the hardware can be a considerable investment if it's custom built. In addition to the screens, equipment associated with kiosks includes cooling fans, cords, computers, mounts, touch bars, and TVs.

Out-of-the-box touch-screen kiosks could cost about $2,000 for a small touch screen on a stand. The most exciting touch-screen kiosks we've built have cost about $20,000 each in components. They have dual-sided high-resolution screens, custom fabrication, and high-end components meant to withstand vandalism. Costs can rise if kiosks include more moving parts like credit card readers, vending arms, and more.

Installation and Testing

It's vital that kiosks are installed correctly and that they undergo on-site troubleshooting and testing to ensure they are running properly. And owners should be aware that during high volume, a number of factors can cause errors. To avoid issues, have the tools at hand (and experts ready) to mend your kiosk if trouble strikes.

It's undeniable that kiosks are continuing to become more popular and create a quicker process for guests in stores, restaurants, and airports around the world. This information can help you think through some of the costs and whether a kiosk system is worth investing in for your business.

If you would like Yeti's help, we have the experience, the boilerplate kiosk code, and a network of vendors that can help with all things related to kiosks. Feel free to reach out if you'd like to chat.

is a CEO + Founding Partner at Yeti. Tony has been developing software since high school and has worked on digital products for global brands such as Google, MIT, Qualcomm, Hershey’s, Britney Spears and Harmon/Kardon. Tony’s writing about innovation and technology has been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and Inc. At Yeti, Tony works on strategy, product design and day to day operations, hopping in and working with the development teams when needed. Follow Tony on Twitter.

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