Automated retail kiosks have increasingly become a part of our every day lives. They have been used as automated teller machines at banks for a very long time now, and self checkout centers at grocery stores employ them to allow consumers to bypass long lines for speedier checkout. Consumers who travel a great deal have regular experience with them in airports where they can be used for automated check-in for flights. They have not done away with people in the retail world, but they have made it possible for retail kiosks to expand the goods and services to accommodate people’s lives more conveniently and easy. The interface is simple to use and can be designed for a variety of user experiences depending on the business and the function of the kiosk.
Anyone familiar with an ATM interface has used a kiosk interface. There are currently around 403,000 ATM machines in the United States. Banks are great at tailoring the functionality of their interfaces while at the same time reinforcing their brand. Banks like Bank of America and Wells Fargo both use the colors of their logo as a way to shape the user interface by enclosing the navigation texts in a color from their brand, and contrasting that with a different color in the background. Consumers often do not notice this kind of brand reinforcement because it gives them a sense of comfort to interact with something that is familiar, and in this case if they have banked there a long time it also reinforces a sense of security.
Airport kiosks use there interfaces for many practical functions. The software development is usually done by an outside company that has experience in designing retail kiosk software interfaces, and they are now most often used with a touchscreen interface. At airports, information kiosks are used provide travelers information on weather, restaurants, lodging, and local area attractions. Many of these kiosks are connected to telephones so that travelers can connect with real individuals to provide further information. Often these kiosks allow travelers to print information at the kiosk or access it through their smartphone by a QR code or a website URL. For businesses looking to expand their brand identity, using a kiosk to provide information is a great way to make the consumer feel that the business provides a valuable service beyond the brand they are selling. Retail kiosks have even been deployed in city halls of many small towns. These kiosks allow local customers to pay their utility and water bills with their credit cards, and they can also check account balances.
Interface design for the retail kiosk is even made to be Americans with Disabilities Act Compliant. Since section 508 of the Rehabilitation Action of 1973 requires all federal agencies to offer their electronic and information technology to be accessible to everyone, kiosk makers allow their kiosks and interfaces to be included with Braille keyboards and proximity sensors. These proximity sensors can detect a users arrival, and a voice prompt interface can guide a user with visual deficiencies on how to utilize the touchscreen. This can include a voice interaction that does away with the need to use the touchscreen altogether.
Retail kiosks are very effective business marketing tools. The interfaces allow business to provide information on their products and services while still being deployed in locations that are convenient to the consumer or in high traffic areas that increase brand exposure.