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Eight Lessons on the Crucial Importance of Store Kiosks in Brick and Mortar Retail

By Terre Wellington, Senior Vice President, Store Operations, Lamps Plus

Eight Lessons on the Crucial Importance of Store Kiosks in Brick and Mortar RetailTerre Wellington, Senior Vice President, Store Operations, Lamps Plus

Retailers have been using computer kiosks in their stores for years, often with mixed results.

An effective kiosk experience offers immediate access to a retailer’s entire inventory and maximizes highly trained sales associates providing help with both kiosk and in-store merchandise.  

As many retailers now move to smaller footprints, there is a renewed interest in-store kiosks than ever. Kiosks can be effective in enhancing the in-store experience if approached properly and woven into the broader store strategy.

Lamps Plus began using store kiosks over 15 years ago and while the process and set-up have evolved, the innovation continues with a focus on building a seamless customer experience between our brick and mortar stores and our Internet site.

An effective kiosk experience offers immediate access to a retailer’s entire inventory and maximizes highly trained sales associates providing help with both kiosk and in-store merchandise.

Lamps Plus founder and CEO Dennis Swanson had the idea to deploy kiosks in our stores over 15 years ago, and the kiosks have been an important presence ever since. Today, a sizable percentage of brick and mortar sales are attributed to the store kiosks.

Here are a few lessons to using store kiosks in retail.

1. More is Better

More kiosks in stores is better. Every Lamps Plus store has multiple kiosk locations; with the goal that customers are never more than 20 feet away from a kiosk. 

 

For example, having a kiosk in our outdoor and landscape lighting area allows our sales team to quickly and easily show the entire family of products. A customer may be looking to purchase a new entry light for their front porch and while this item is displayed in the showroom, the rest of the family of lighting (the matching post light, the hanging pendant, etc.) is not in store but the products are visible on the kiosk and available for purchase. Close proximity to kiosks allows for multiple sales associates to assist customers in a quick and seamless manner.

2. Bigger Screens Are Better

Though some companies opt for iPads or smaller display screens, we have found that larger screens allow for a better experience. Since customers often shop with significant others, multiple people can view product selections, images and product page details. Additionally, the larger screen and our high-resolution photography allow customers to see the product detail and zoom in to photos to closely review materials just as they would in person.

3. Website Kiosk Consistency

The store kiosk site is basically the Lamps Plus website. The kiosk site is constantly updated with new products and enhancements, just like LampsPlus.com. Kiosks are hard to maintain if the website is different, so consistency between the two is vital. Customers browsing at a kiosk can view additional information about a product, just like they can online, including photos, videos, customer questions and reviews, tips and more.

4. Sales Team Rewards

Unlike a number of other retailers that have added kiosks in stores to build the internet business at the cost to the brick and mortar location, we want our store team to actively use kiosks as a sales tool. To build this culture, we found it’s important to align the management and the store teams with the vision of this new “unlimited” product assortment by allowing 100% of the sales generated on the kiosk to be attributed to the store. Additionally, associates receive a commission on all items sold on the kiosk or in the store through our POS system. This simple act allows our brick and mortar teams to not just adapt to this new technology, but embrace it.

5. Sales Team Feedback

We encourage our customers to review their in-store experience by using a five-star rating system. This survey provides valuable feedback to ensure we are providing a superior customer experience that makes a customer loyal to our brand for life. These surveys are sent to the store manager every 20 minutes so managers can thank customers for positive comments or apologize and address any issues identified.

6. Limitless Floor Space

Stores have limited square footage and display areas. Kiosks solve this problem by offering the full breadth of our product assortment in a highly organized, searchable format for customers. When a product is not in a store, customers can get frustrated and move on to another retailer or go online — either on their phone immediately in a store or later at home. The kiosk resolves some of the customer frustration about inventory. In effect, kiosks offer an “endless digital aisle” of designs and product variations in the context of a physical store.

7. Easy Inventory Access

After interacting with a customer, sales associates can easily look up inventory and availability information right on the showroom floor, without having to move to a centralized POS location or search the back room. Customers benefit from immediate updates and the opportunity to order and ship to their home with an associate’s help.

8.  Bringing the Online Experience To Store

Before using kiosks, we frequently had customers come to stores looking for something they had seen online. With a kiosk nearby, our sales associate can easily replicate the online experience and track down specifically what the customer wants. Exposing store staff to the online experience and putting them in the customer’s shoes is a major advantage of using kiosks. Also, customers become trained by our store associates on how to easily navigate and use our e-commerce site to help their online comfort level when they are not in a store.

As part of an overall sales plan, the store kiosk can play a vital role. Keeping the balance between showroom display, kiosk access and personalized help from a sales team are key ingredients to long term success.

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