The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on every industry, forcing businesses across Canada to come to terms with new operating environments. Many are looking for ways to deliver a positive employee and customer experience, while improving safety and reducing costs. Kiosks, or automated self-service devices, can play a key role in this.
The Evolution of Kiosks
From a slow start for ATMs, followed by the first network of interactive kiosks developed by Florsheim Shoe Company, self-service kiosks have come a long way. Now, a variety of industries rely on self-service kiosks, from basic search functions to multi-use devices where customers can order products and check out instantly.
Every day, the need for kiosks is evolving and new kiosks are being deployed in a variety of traditional and new settings, including healthcare, retail, banks, food service, government agencies, school campuses, and more.
The Diversification of Kiosk Needs
Kiosks for purchasing tickets at movie theatres, banks, airport check-in and wayfinding in malls are all familiar, but there are many other uses—especially now during these unprecedented times of social distancing and safety measures.
The healthcare industry provides a first example of the rapid growth and evolving need for self-service kiosks. Pharmacies are increasingly using kiosks to store and dispense drugs safely, such as the case with Vancouver’s opioid dispenser program.
Kiosks also play an important role in retail and transportation settings to ensure that Canadians have access to everything from hand sanitizer to personal protective equipment. For example, CleanSlate UV Sanitizers are being stationed in department stores and restaurants, while Metrolinx’s vending machines house personal protective equipment for those who need it to take public transit.
Many employers are also now using kiosks to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms, while others are automating back-office functions such as cash and shift management.
In addition to safety, kiosks can also enhance convenience. For instance, Snaile’s secure parcel lockers are turning up in condominium and apartment buildings to keep up with the volume of online shopping, while Canadian Tire is using secure parcel lockers in its stores for customers who buy online but prefer to pick up in person.
Best Practices for Adopting Kiosks in a Low-Touch World
While it seems as though kiosks are everywhere, it’s a complex process to deploy them. This process begins with asking the right questions. Will the kiosk be indoors or outdoors? Will it be used by employees or consumers? Does it need additional security measures? How will it accommodate accessibility requirements?
A solid strategy is needed to answer these important questions. Kiosk strategies should consider everything from getting the necessary permits to managing the complex logistics to ship, install, and maintain the devices.
Once a strategy is established, the kiosk can be implemented. This is where careful planning begins to pay off. In most cases, the team will need to work with property owners, site managers and others to ensure your installation is as unobtrusive as possible. Your strategy partner can manage the end-to end pre- and post-delivery requirements—leveraging trained teams who know how to handle delicate technology shipments.
After implementation comes installation. Kiosk installations can be complex. Your kiosk or logistics partner may need to configure the devices, test them and train your staff in how to use, troubleshoot and maintain them. Lastly, it’s important to understand that kiosks require regular maintenance and sometimes quick repairs. All kiosk owners will need to plan for routine maintenance services and to consider how to respond in case a kiosk is broken, vandalized or in need of upgrades.
A Spotlight on CleanSlate UV:
A prime example of the importance of a strategic partner when installing and managing kiosks is SCI’s recent work with CleanSlate.
The CleanSlate UV Sanitizer is a hospital-grade device that uses medical-grade UV light to sanitize mobile devices in just 20 seconds.
SCI provided CleanSlate UV with strategic planning, inbound logistics, warehousing, delivery, on-site installation, field service and distribution of critical spare parts. Of course, there were numerous challenges that had to be navigated, including tight delivery windows in downtown metropolitan locations, quickly installing the units and removing debris, and providing 24-hour turnaround times for on-site service—all during the uncertain days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The SCI team drew on its planning and strategy expertise to help CleanSlate UV successfully deploy, install and provide servicing for its product across Canada in a matter of weeks.
“I’m pleased with how SCI managed the launch as our partner. We’ve experienced significant growth, and having an agile and strategic partner is key,” explains Scott Mason, Co-founder of CleanSlate UV. “We had to respond rapidly to the uncertainties of the pandemic with our product, and this often meant that we asked SCI to take on new scope at a moment’s notice.”
The Importance of Choosing the Right Kiosk Partner
While all of these best practices may seem overwhelming, most organizations leverage a kiosk partner to help them navigate through the complicated process and ensure they stick to their strategy.
An experienced kiosk partner will work closely with its customers to identify who will be using a kiosk, how it will be used, and the likely number of users, and then develop a comprehensive design specification that directly caters to these factors. They will also be available to help with issues as and when they arise.
Kiosks are already helping businesses get back to work and go about their everyday activities safely. As the technology evolves, we are likely to see continued rapid growth in this space.
As kiosks continue to gain popularity, it’s important that businesses understand the best practices to ensure they install and maintain the kiosk properly.
An experienced kiosk partner can help businesses plan and execute a kiosk program and will remain on board to train staff and provide 24/7 support. SCI provides such expertise and helps leading Canadian brands delight customers and stay agile every day. With our coast-to-coast network and expert installation and support, we provide end-to-end kiosk project planning and management across Canada.
SCI is one of Canada’s leading providers of supply chain solutions that go beyond traditional logistics services. SCI’s tagline “We’ll make you even better” is a commitment today from a business that’s leading clients into tomorrow. Trusted by clients in the retail, e-commerce, technology, and healthcare sectors, SCI operates the most extensive national distribution and transportation network in Canada, consisting of 30 distribution centres coast to coast along with over 40 critical parts stocking locations and specialized white glove shipping hubs. SCI shares the learnings from the sectors they operate in, providing the audience with information to guide their supply chain to success through blog posts, case studies and white papers.