June 17, 2005

Kiosk Industry Buzz -- Photo Kiosk Do's and Don'ts

photo-kioskFrancie Mendelsohn of Summit Research gives us the latest Kiosk Industry Buzz as she see's it.

This month -- the photo kiosk is a complex equation. According to Francie Mendelsohn of Summit Research self-service photo kiosks are hot and will get even hotter. Just don't forget the maintenance.

Photo Kiosk Negatives Dont Neglect Maintenance

Photo kiosks are HOT! And will get even hotter over the next two-three years. They already account for more than 20 percent of all currently-deployed kiosks. Yet recent articles in the mainstream press paint a distressing picture. In their June 2005 issues, both Consumer Reports and PC Magazine discuss frustrations with using in-store photo printing kiosks. Not only were the prints of generally poor quality, but in almost half the cases, the reporters were unable to use the kiosks at all they were not functioning.

We at Summit have been preaching the necessity of top-notch kiosk maintenance and remote monitoring software for years. Nowhere is it more necessary than with photo kiosks. Retailers have to know if the unit is malfunctioning. In one case, we tested a kiosk that was not able to accept credit card payments. Because that method was the only way to pay for prints, we wasted more than hour of our time. When we encountered this problem at a leading grocery store chain store employees told us that the problem had been evidentand unresolvedfor a month. This is unacceptable and will lead to the removal of these promising devices. Furthermore, it is nave to expect a customer who has been burned by this kiosk ever to return to use it another day. Once he/she has been frustrated, they are not going to try it againever.

Similarly, if a photo kiosk is low on consumables, the appropriate people have to be notified long before the unit actually runs out of photo paper or inks. Remote monitoring plays a key role in these devices and must be an integral part of the total photo kiosk solution. It cannot be left to chance or to employees who cannot be depended upon to rectify a situation before it actually becomes a problem. Both magazines reported several incidents of dead kiosks.

Onsite maintenance is also a requirement. Both the kiosk and the photo printers (both internal dye sublimation or external silver halide) have to be operating at peak levels. Customers will not use a kiosk again if the prints are of poor quality - grainy, fuzzy or washed out.

Replenishment of consumables, normally signaled by the remote monitoring software has to be tied in with maintenance because a growing number of customers report ordering, for example, 100 prints only to receive 60. What happened to the remaining 40? The printer ran out of paper. The kiosk remote management software had indicated that there was plenty of paper and inks available, and let the order be processed. Because people are taking more and more photographs with ever-larger memory cards, this a problem that will only worsen in time.

Accordingly, the remote monitoring software has to be modified to ensure that these problems will be a thing of the past. It should calculate the total size of the customer order, compare it with the available consumables, and either process (and charge) for a partial order, or not allow the transaction to proceed until and unless the consumables have been refilled.

Summit Research Associates recently published the Second Edition of their Kiosk Industry Sector Report Digital Photography. Details can be found at http://www.summit-res.com/reports.html

Originally published on http://www.kis-kiosk.com June 17, 2005

Posted by keefner at June 17, 2005 02:53 PM