Hardware Alert: NCR/Radiant Kiosks Going ‘End of Sale’
Blog | April 13, 2017
Updated: May 13, 2019 | Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on LinkedIn
By Jerry Lake
Over the last five years, inquiries from customers looking to deploy a kiosk at their location have increased noticeably. Interestingly enough, a huge driver of this trend is the fast food industry, which is retraining customers to look for a screen when initiating a purchase. And it makes sense. Kiosks offer plenty of benefits for your attraction: reducing lines at your traditional POS, reducing the number of labor hours needed to sell tickets, improving branding and the customer experience. But that doesn’t mean you should jump-in head first without first considering all your business objectives and needs. Before we move forward with any concrete discussions, I always ask our customers these 14 questions.
WHAT WILL BE THE KIOSK OUTPUT?
Let’s begin at the end. What do you expect your guest to walk away with when the kiosk transaction is complete? If you are already using a certain ticket stock or media like wristbands or RFID at your other sales channels, do you want to use the same at your kiosk? And do you need to print a thermal receipt in addition to the standard ticket output? These questions will help us determine what type(s) of printer to put into the kiosk. Most of our customers will use an Epson thermal receipt printer in addition to a Boca ticket printer at their standard POS. But in a kiosk, there is rarely room for both, so I’ll usually recommend using the same ticket printer and same paper media to produce both the tickets and also the receipt for the transaction.
IF DISPENSING TICKET STOCK, WHAT SIZE STOCK WILL THE KIOSK USE?
It’s important to predict the sales volume of the kiosk to help you determine what size stock to use, mainly because you don’t want to have to continually refill the printer. A typical infeed hopper can accommodate the standard 4.5-inch-high stack of one thousand 5.5 x 2-inch tickets folded two across. But if you build for a smaller credit-card sized ticket, you can fit three tickets on a fold and get 50% more output in each stack – meaning you can refill the printer less.
How can you estimate kiosk traffic? Kiosks typically won’t alter your eCommerce sales, but they usually take away business from your POS. If you’re selling 5000 tickets a day at the counter, some percentage of that will now transition to the kiosk. Also consider where you place your kiosk, how many kiosks you have, and how intuitive they are to use. If your kiosk is subtly placed off to the side of your entrance it likely won’t get as much traffic as one placed very visibly at the gate. Multiple kiosks will absorb more sales than a single one. A highly intuitive kiosk that moves guests through the transaction quickly will sell more than one that handles more complicated transactions.
HOW DO YOU ENVISION YOUR KIOSK WILL BE MOUNTED?
AND DOES THE KIOSK NEED TO FIT INTO AN EXISTING STRUCTURE?
You may want to deploy your kiosk in an alcove or into a wall and it needs to mold to a physical space. Or you may want it freestanding on concrete by your entrance with a pedestal or base for support. These are important details to know for design, but also necessary to help us plan how the kiosk will get its power and data. If it’s mounted to the wall, we can bring power and data through there, versus if it’s freestanding you may need to jackhammer through the concrete to connect the kiosk.
Too often, a venue will designate a new area for kiosks, but build the physical space without regard for the exact kiosk sizing. Because of this, in some cases, off-the-shelf standard designs may not fit, leaving the venue with the increased costs associated with designing and building a custom kiosk to fit the space. Involving us sooner to identify your target kiosk can remove this unexpected increase in cost.
WILL THE KIOSK BE INDOORS, OUTDOORS BUT PROTECTED, OR OUTDOORS WITH NO WEATHER PROTECTION?
The environmental conditions for the kiosk change the components needed. Typically, indoor kiosks only need a ventilation fan. But outdoor ones often also need heat and/or air conditioning. Waterproofing is a huge consideration. The touchscreen may need to be waterproof as well as the payment terminal components, and the scanner may need to be aimed in a way that prevents water intrusion. The kiosk body itself needs a different IP rating in terms of protection from the elements.
We also take ambient lighting conditions into consideration, particularly the NITS rating, or the brightness of the monitor. A typical indoor monitor may only have a rating of 500 NITS whereas an outdoor one could be as high as 1500 NITS if it needs to be readable in the bright sun. If an outdoor kiosk will be sheltered and you can rely on constant shade, you may not need to invest in a monitor with such a high rating. Even some indoor kiosks need outside sunlight readable monitors when they are deployed in brightly lit areas.
HOW WILL YOU FINISH THE SHELL OF THE KIOSK?
The typical kiosk body will be stainless or carbon steel that is powder coated, screen printed or wrapped. Stainless-steel is far more durable than carbon, and waterproof, so most outdoor kiosks are stainless. We even often recommend going stainless for indoor use because if the surface gets scratched through everyday wear or vandalism, carbon steel can rust, even indoors, in response to humidity, human contact or cleaning.
In terms of powder coating, screen printing or wrapping, it all depends on your budget, intended use and artistic vision. Powder coating is affordable and offers a certain level of durability and branding since you can select what colors you prefer. However, this must be done at the manufacturer before the kiosk is shipped to you. Wrapping can be done once the kiosk has arrived at your attraction, is inexpensive, but is time consuming. However, wrapping offers the flexibility of being able to re-wrap so the look of your kiosk can evolve with your attraction. Screen printing offers more design and branding options than powder coating, but also must be done before shipping and cannot be altered easily.
Even if time, budget or design preference means you only want a kiosk with a bare stainless-steel finish, we still recommend adding clear coat. Clear coat is more durable and easier to clean, has a more attractive gloss, and does not take fingerprints as easily as brushed stainless steel.
WHAT SCREEN SIZE AND SCREEN ORIENTATION WOULD YOU LIKE?
If you look at kiosks from as little as five years ago, they have mostly 15-inch landscape mode 4×3 form factor monitors. The monitor was viewed as just another component in an otherwise bland looking kiosk. But in the modern kiosk, the screen is the main attraction. Some of our recent deployments have 42-inch monitors in portrait mode giving you exponentially more opportunities for guest interaction, for upselling and for artistic vision. Portrait mode also works well because even with very large monitors there is still room on the side for payment terminal components, the printer and all the other hardware you need to add. When it comes to monitor size, it’s usually a budget decision, with bigger drawing a bigger ‘WOW’ factor.
WHAT ARE THE DISABILITY REQUIREMENTS IN YOUR AREA?
AND DO YOU WANT SOUND?
The answer to this question will depend where you operate, and we work individually in this area with all our customers who are installing kiosks.
Accessibility is ultra-important for most installations, especially if you consider the potentially long lifespan of a kiosk. What will the accessibility laws be in your area in 5-10 years? In this regard, you want to consider three components: height differences, auditory differences and visual differences.
To address height differences, typically we want to mount components that are user accessible such as payment terminals or barcode scanners at or below the 48-inch height line. This is the ADA approved height line for most of the U.S., to accommodate both standing and seated-height guests. As always, check local governance to ensure that your exact height line is not lower. In terms of software, especially with large monitors, you’ll find the top of the screen is well above 48 inches. You can still use this monitor real estate for messaging or other branding, but you want to ensure any touch points or controls are at or below 48 inches.
Most of our kiosk installments do not leverage sound primarily because if you have a bank of kiosks next to each other it can start to sound like slot machines at a busy casino. We overwhelmingly design our transactions so that sound is not required, so there is no issue with auditory differences and accessibility requirements. Additionally, in most cases, our customers feel a nearby POS satisfies the requirements for guests with a visual impairment.
WILL THE KIOSK NEED MORE THAN TYPICAL POWER/CAPACITY?
We don’t often run into this challenge, but sometimes you may want a dual purpose for your deployed kiosk. Perhaps during times when the kiosk isn’t selling you want it to run a way-finding app, for example, or provide robust access to an online directory. When we design the kiosk and associated software, we recommend the right amount of horsepower for those specific components. It’s possible to add more power for other purposes, but we need to know this ahead of time.
WHAT FORMS OF PAYMENT WILL YOU ACCEPT?
The majority of our US based customers want a kiosk that can accept credit, and to a lesser extent, debit. We also still offer magstripe hardware, but mostly design with chip-based processors. Although not required, chip-based is highly recommended for security and liability reasons.
Whether the kiosk will be deployed indoors or outdoors dictates the type of payment processing components we install – as does a concept called ‘semi-unattended’. ‘Semi-unattended’ means the kiosk is deployed directly at your venue, is only available for use during your normal operating hours, and there is always staff in the vicinity if a guest should need assistance. If the kiosk is indoors in a reasonably secure semi-unattended environment, then we are completely fine hanging what amounts to a desktop payment terminal like a Verifone MX915 onto the kiosk. But if it’s deployed outside or semi-unattended conditions don’t apply, then you need a fully unattended solution which requires different payment terminals that have tamper sensors that shut down functionality should the terminal be disconnected.
It’s important to note that when it comes to payment processing, answers and solutions vary by region. We can work with your organization to determine the right solution for you.
DOES THE KIOSK NEED A BARCODE SCANNER?
If you’re only using the kiosk to sell tickets, then we can typically design a simple layout with the components addressed above. But if you’re using the kiosk for ticket pickup, or you want it to be able to process discounts, ticket upgrades, ticket lookups, pass renewals and pass-required purchases, then you will also want us to build in a barcode scanner. It’s simple, and most of our implementations include a scanner, but it’s something we need to know ahead of time.
Remember, a kiosk is a long-term decision. Even if you don’t think you need a barcode scanner now, but may five years from now, it’s easier to include it now. Retrofitting components into an already-deployed kiosk can be very problematic, cause significant equipment downtime, and be disproportionately expensive.
WHAT PRODUCTS WILL YOU BE SELLING?
We can theme the kiosk in any way you wish, but we do have some recommendations. With this type of sales channel, simpler is better. Make the transaction quick to increase throughput and alleviate some of the pressure on your POS by only selling general admission and simple to purchase products. Save more complicated transactions that require more information, like a pass or membership, for an employee at a POS. Additionally, too many choices and upsell options is usually detrimental as guests spend too long navigating the menu and trying to decide, eliminating the convenience and speed the kiosk offers.
WHAT IS YOUR DEPLOYMENT STRATEGY AND TIMELINES?
There are two primary considerations I deal with here: timelines of deployment, and customization. Do you want all your kiosks at once, or should you do a tiered deployment? If you’ve never had kiosks before, it may be worthwhile to deploy a small number first, see how your guests are using them and compile feedback, and then install a second wave with improvements.
Then, how much customization would you like? This is ultimately determined by deadlines and budget, as the more you increase customization the more you increase time and cost. Our kiosk manufacturing partners can build almost anything (and have!), but we also have recommended standard models that are functional, very aesthetically pleasing, and priced accordingly since they’re built on-demand from pre-approved designs. We can do minimal customization on standard designs in terms of the placement of components, and of course, you can customize the exterior as discussed above.
I get inquiries so often about kiosks that we designed an infographic with these 14 questions to help guide you through the beginning phases of considering if this strategy is right for you. Download the infographic right here. Then roll through these 14 questions with your team to gain a 360-degree view of what you need to consider before you install kiosks at your attraction.
Ready to increase your revenue, decrease your costs and make your guests feel great?