An OOH opportunity often ignored – the case for kiosks

Be it in shopping centres, community festivals or airports, kiosks present marketers with a unique opportunity to engage with thousands yet, according to Sharon Melamed, so many ignore the channel. Here’s how to get kiosks right.

Sharon Melamed 150 BWKiosks in high-traffic consumer environments, such as shopping centres, are often overlooked in marketing plans. Perhaps one of the reasons is that marketers think kiosks are the domain of sales, and sales think they’re the domain of marketing. In reality, kiosks are the domain of both, but to build a business case, the two silos need to come together. Let’s take a look at the case for kiosks.

 

Industries that use kiosks

Kiosks are used by private sector, public sector and not-for-profit organisations. When visiting your local shopping centre or racing down an airport aisle, you may have stumbled across kiosks promoting charities, wine clubs, energy, financial services, food delivery services, telecommunications, Foxtel, computer manufacturers and even government initiatives.

Here’s a snap of the Federal Government’s Powering Forward kiosk – one of 46 such kiosks in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland – in a Bondi Junction shopping mall.

Powering Forward Kiosk

 

Engage customers for leads and sales

In a shopping centre environment, kiosks have a distinct advantage over traditional retail outlets – kiosks are usually found centre aisle with no doors or windows blocking engagement with passers-by. In other words, the kiosk staff (usually two people to cover for breaks) can engage a large number of customers – even if just with a welcoming smile, greeting or special offer brochure.

The kiosk staff can visually hone in on the target demographic – for example, a Mum with kids or a pair of seniors. This very basic screening invariably leads to some customers agreeing to have a conversation to find out more. Sometimes the objective may be simply to generate leads who provide their contact details or fill out an application (for a credit card, for example). Leads can then be followed up by the kiosk staff by phone or email during quiet periods or through the company’s call centre, with a view to sales closure. Other kiosks may be designed for a simple order or signup on the spot. And promotional kiosks may be used for offerings like food giveaways.

 

Test and learn

Kiosks have a further advantage over stores in that they are mobile. Kiosks are an experimental and flexible channel – the kiosk can move from one location to another at little or no additional cost. This allows marketers to test out consumer response to different offerings in different suburbs and demographics, as well as different environments – for example, community events versus shopping centres. This instant customer feedback is great for marketing, and sales can quickly test conversion rates across a variety of cohorts and locations.

The flexibility of kiosks is premised on shopping centres offering casual leasing which don’t lock companies into long-term contracts. This means that kiosks can be opened as pop-ups for short periods around festivals or celebrations – a Christmas pudding kiosk in November and December or a kiosk selling feminist-branded merchandise around International Women’s Day.

Further, pure-play online retailers can use kiosks as a lower cost alternative to setting up a physical store while making inroads into multichannel and offering customers convenience for return merchandise.

 

Awareness and Branding

The design of the kiosk and the apparel of the kiosk staff are powerful branding opportunities, when you consider they will be seen by thousands of people a day in most cases.

Regardless of whether they are employed directly or by an outsourcing firm, kiosk staff will wear a uniform with your logo – whether that’s a polo shirt or jacket.

With regard to awareness and education, the Government kiosk program above is a good example – the aim is to guide electricity customers through the process of comparing plans on the Australian Government’s Energy Made Easy website and empower them to contact their provider to ask for a better deal.

 

Manage directly or outsource?

The majority of kiosk programs are outsourced. We often speak to clients who voice hesitation at trying kiosks because they don’t have experience in the channel – pinpointing which locations to target, negotiating leasing rates with landlords and managing and motivating kiosk staff. In these situations, outsourcing to kiosk management experts is certainly an option to consider as this is the outsource firm’s core expertise, increasing the likelihood of your success.

 

Kiosk cons

There’s no doubt about it, the cost of kiosks is not cheap – shopping centres charge a lot to rent space, then there are wages for kiosk staff and management, and a four-figure investment in the design and production of the kiosk itself. On the other hand, kiosks allow for a deeper level of engagement than online channels, so the higher cost may be offset by more sales and a stickier, more personalised customer experience.

 

Tips for kiosk success

  • Shopping centres are the most popular location for kiosks, but there’s also airports and community and sporting events that can offer a great bang for your buck.
  • Add some pizazz to your kiosk with tech – such as tablets for the kiosk staff or large monitors to demonstrate products online or customer reviews.
  • Collaborate with your colleagues in sales or other departments and consider budget-sharing.
  • Consider outsourcing to kiosk management experts who will also act as a trusted advisor in helping you get the best leasing deal in the best locations.

 

Sharon Melamed is managing director at Matchboard

 

Further Reading:

 

Image credit:Marcin Kempa