July 08, 2004

Wireless Kiosks in Retail

Office Depot to roll out more than 7,000 wireless in-store web kiosks

As part of its store re-design strategy, Office Depot Inc. will place in each of its 900 stores eight web-based, wireless kiosks that let customers order products from OfficeDepot.com, configure personal computers, and research their personal loyalty points and shopping history, Joseph Jeffries, director of retail store operations, tells Internet Retailer.

Mounted on rolling carts, the kiosks are designed to be easily moved to store departments where theyre most needed, Jeffries says.

The kiosks are being launched this week as part of Office Depots new M2 store concept, which it announced Wednesday. M2 is intended to make stores easier to shop and more efficient in stocking merchandise, says Chairman and CEO Bruce Nelson. "M2 is intuitive, logical and designed specifically for the way people make purchase decisions," he says.

Under Office Depots old kiosk strategy, each of five kiosks in a store had a single function; for example, to configure a personal computer, research product information, or fill out a customer service survey. That and their placement in the store made them less likely to be used frequently. Customers didnt know where they were because theyd be stuck on a cabinet or some place, Jeffries says.

The new kiosks will be made more conspicuous by store signage and assistance from store employees, he adds. Instead of placing a kiosk at the store exit for satisfaction surveys, as it does now in many stores, Office Depot will place a multi-functional kiosk at the store entrance. Incentives advertised on signs, such as special product offers, will try to get customers to fill out surveys of their shopping interests.

Customers will also be able to swipe their Office Depot Advantage loyalty cards on the kiosk to get a report of their rewards points total and theyll be able to sign in to see a record of past purchases. If someone comes in to pick up an ink cartridge and cant remember which one they need, they can check the kiosk to see what they bought the last time, Jeffries says.

Rival Staples Inc. has been installing web kiosks in its stores since it undertook a store redesign initiative in 2001. It now has about 6,000 in operation, or between 4 and 6 in each of its 1,200 stores.

InternetRetailer.com - Daily News for Thursday, July 1, 2004

Posted by Craig at July 8, 2004 02:22 PM