Retail Reimagined: Smart Self-Serve Kiosks Enhance Customer Experience

The in-store retail shopping processes of the pre-pandemic times are moving into retirement,  as consumers now desire the same smart, fast, purchasing experience that online shopping delivers. At the ready are new smart kiosk retail solutions that use IoT, analytics, machine vision, and cloud technology to deliver services such as customer authentication, wayfinding, inventory automation, digital advertising, and express checkout from anywhere in a store.

Article Key

Image credit: Decathlon USA/The E’Ville Eye

The demand for smart connected technology in retail is heating up fast. Retail stores are looking for agile digital technologies that can add operational efficiencies, lower costs, and create omnichannel engagement with customers. Retailers are moving away from client/server point-of-sale and legacy back-end systems to cloud-delivered applications. These solutions use computer vision and mobile payment to create a smooth customer shopping experience.

One area poised for expansion is smart kiosk technology. Market growth in kiosk technology is gaining traction, based on an increased adoption of cloud and contactless payment solutions. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global kiosk market is projected to grow from $22 billion in 2021 to $51 billion in 2028.

Smart kiosks are easy to use for the consumer, and they offer multiple benefits for the retailer and services for the customer. Using a smart kiosk, a retail store can display products that are available in the store as well as online, which enables them to sell a higher variety of products without stocking an extensive in-store inventory. And kiosks can be placed anywhere in a store, making payment easy for customers and eliminating long check-out lines. 

One-Stop Kiosk Shopping

One player in the smart kiosk solutions arena is Norman, OK-based M3t. The company provides one-stop kiosk solutions and management systems, which also include an internal support network with 24/7 live phone support. An Intel® IoT Solutions partner, M3t solutions are powered by 10th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Processors and Intel® Edge Software Hub.

The company has different configurations and recommended applications for its kiosks. These include:

  • Self-service Retail Kiosk
  • Self-service Ticket Redemption and Financial Services Kiosk
  • Self-service Casino All-in-One Kiosk
  • Attendant Under-the-Counter Safe
  • Hybrid Attendant Safe

M3t Retail Kiosk screen.

Image credit: M3t Retail Kiosk

Split-second Authentication

Designed to improve the in-store customer experience, the M3t Retail Kiosk has a touchless, digital screen. It can rapidly authenticate customers by leveraging facial and voice recognition technologies, which can simplify purchasing and result in faster transactions.

The M3t Retail Kiosk allows store managers to reduce a store’s footprint and staffing. The kiosk can display the in-store inventory along with the broader range of products available to ship. This type of “endless aisle” kiosk lets a smaller merchant offer the same amount of merchandise as a major department store, but maintain a significantly smaller footprint.

The M3t kiosk comes in three configurations: pedestal mount, wall mount, and countertop. The different options give stores a way to facilitate purchasing from anywhere in the store. Moving customers away from a central checkout area to distributed kiosks can decrease congestion at the front of the store.

In addition to inventory and purchasing automation, smart kiosks can be configured for additional services. Those include: wayfinding and directions; displaying employment opportunities; sharing product specs, reviews, and promotions; and accepting returns. An in-store kiosk returns solution can simplify the returns process, enabling customers to skip the line at the service desk and spend more time browsing. Smart kiosks can also be used for ticket distribution for parking, and for financial services such as cash back or money withdrawal.

Flexible Mobile Checkout

Retailers often roll out pilots of smart kiosk technology and cashless checkout systems to test customer response. One large retailer, Decathlon, a French sporting goods provider, used smart kiosks when it launched its high-tech merchandising location in Emeryville, CA, in early 2020. 

Using a combination of solutions that included RFID, QR codes, and smartphones, customers could check out and complete their purchases at any kiosk within the Decathlon store. The kiosks, or payment carts, could quickly scan the RFID chips embedded in the merchandise and total a customer’s order. The smart checkout solution accepted payments from a customer’s mobile phone, a gift card, or a debit or credit card, and it facilitated an immediate sale. 

Although the store closed its U.S. locations due to lack of foot traffic during the pandemic, Decathlon USA’s chief operating officer, Sophie O’Kelly, said that the company’s cashless checkout kiosk was quite popular with customers and will be used in future expansion plans. 

Intel, the Intel logo, and other Intel marks are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiaries.

Find Intel® IoT Market Ready Solutions

Search the Intel® IoT partner ecosystem and discover 130+ end-to-end IoT solutions.

Become a Member of the Intel® Partner Alliance

If you are delivering repeatable and scalable IoT offerings using Intel technology, the Intel® Partner Alliance program gives you more opportunities to build your business. Get started.