NEW YORK -- A recent study sees rapid growth for interactive kiosks, as well as Internet-based kiosks, over the next four years.
KioskCom, here, a kiosk trade organization, has reported that the number of interactive kiosks could more than double, from about 600,000 today to 1.5 million in 2005. Similarly, the number of Internet-based kiosks is expected to rise from about 400,000 today to 1 million in 2005. KioskCom based its report on research from Summit Research Associates, Rockville, Md.
While the study focused on general kiosk usage in all industries, the growth in supermarkets should also follow this pattern, said Lawrence Dvorchik, managing director of KioskCom. "The use of kiosks in supermarkets will move forward because, as retailers tie in their loyalty programs, they will see the benefits of doing that, as will their customers," he said.
Dvorchik pointed to the experience of Sainsbury's in the United Kingdom. "It's phenomenal. When customers come in, they naturally gravitate to the kiosks where they check their points, check what's on special, check what rewards they are eligible for, and things like that," he said.
"The use of interactive self-service kiosk technology in supermarkets has the potential for tremendous growth because it will ensure order efficiency and accuracy," he said, citing the example of kiosks used for ordering in deli departments.
Self-checkouts will help make customers more comfortable with the kind of technology found in kiosks, he noted. "As the comfort level increases, so will the usage level," he said.
While interactive kiosks will grow to be an important part of consumers' experience in supermarkets, Internet-focused kiosks will play a smaller role in the grocery environment, he said. Kiosks offering Internet access will gain increasing acceptance in other venues as people seek out places to check their e-mail and get information from other Web sites. But Dvorchik does not see this taking hold in supermarkets where most customers want to get in and out quickly.
However, many supermarket kiosks will increasingly rely on limited Internet connections to keep them updated, he said. "There is going to be more of this kind of connectivity there, if nothing else, to be able to upload content, change it, and keep it relevant and accurate," he said.
By 2005, Dvorchik noted, the majority of kiosks will have some kind of connection to the Internet, and only 5% to 7% of kiosks will have no such connection.
Meanwhile, Web pay phones, which are also known as public access Internet devices, will grow in popularity, and many supermarkets will install them, he said. Currently the number of devices that allow people to make phone calls over the Internet is very small, but the KioskCom study predicts about 400,000 of them will be installed by 2005. These will become cost-effective replacements to current pay phones that are increasingly underutilized, the report said. Demand will cause the cost of the Web pay phones to decrease in the next several years, and there will be promotional opportunities for the retailer on the screens of these units, Dvorchik said. For example, the retailer's Web page may be the opening screen, he noted.