Can IBM bolster self-service kiosks?

IBM is rolling out new kiosks and point of sale systems designed to make self-service more enjoyable via video and 3D capabilities. We've all seen self-service kiosks in action.

IBM is rolling out new kiosks and point of sale systems designed to make self-service more enjoyable via video and 3D capabilities.

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We've all seen self-service kiosks in action. Kiosks in airports are a time saver. My experience in retail with self checkout has been spotty.

IBM is launching a product called that AnyPlace Kiosk that has built-in wireless and can be put in stores, airports and hotels. These kiosks, which are powered by AMD processors, come in 19-inch, 17-inch and 15-inch screens and are designed to offer full-motion video, 3D graphics and better touch screen technology. The general theme: Meld online and in-store experiences.

Big Blue is also offering a point-of-sale system that can double as a self-service kiosk.

This self-service kiosk theme has been emerging for years and earlier this year interactive displays were prevalent at the National Retail Federation confab. The challenge for retailers is lowering costs, improving customer service and offering self service in a way that doesn't look cheap.

IBM obviously wants to ride this wave and has created the Self Service Alliance, a program that's designed to drive adoption of self-service technology. In a survey of 1,000 consumers, IBM showed 50 percent growth in the use of self-service options. And 70 percent of consumers expect companies to offer more self-service.

The caveat: The experience has to be worth the effort. If not, self service just makes a company look like it favors saving a few pennies over customer service.

Here are the kiosk specs:

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