Digital kiosks are an increasingly familiar sight across a wide range of settings. But if you asked the average person on the street what kiosks are for, you can bet the most common answer would be making purchases without having to wait in line at a staffed checkout.

This reflects the fact that payment kiosks are particularly popular in retail, in hospitality and in entertainment venues. From self-service checkouts in supermarkets to touchscreen ordering points in fast food restaurants to automated ticket consoles in cinemas, as consumers we’re probably all familiar with using self-service kiosks to complete transactions by now.

But kiosks offer plenty besides. Touchscreen stations are also particularly well-suited to providing people with information. This extends the use cases for kiosks beyond purely commercial settings. Information kiosks are proving to be a big hit in places as diverse as hospitals, libraries, transport hubs, schools and public administration buildings.

Although if you run a shop or a restaurant or a hotel, there are equally good reasons for wanting to keep customers or guests informed, and equally good reasons to choose kiosks to do so.

Active engagement

Another important reason why touchscreen kiosks are growing in popularity as ways to keep people informed across a huge range of settings is this – they are interactive. Think about the ways you might have had information communicated to you in a public place in the past. Posters. Billboards. More recently, display screens. Static media that facilitate one-way, passive consumption.

With a touchscreen kiosk, on the other hand, the consumption is active. A person who goes up to an interactive kiosk makes decisions and takes action to get the information they are looking for. They are therefore more engaged in it.

Ok, so you might say that giant TV screens displaying whizzy animations and movie-quality video clips to get across whatever messages they want to convey are pretty good at grabbing attention, too. But then you have to think about the limitations of the messages you can have displayed. How many infomercials and announcements can you have on a video loop?

A kiosk offers an information resource of a different order altogether. Rather than a limited reel of clips, you can connect a user-friendly interface to entire databases of information and allow the user to browse for what they need as and when they want it. You can connect the kiosk to the internet, providing a gateway to a whole universe of information. With modern content management software, you can update information in real time.

Complementing mobile

You might be thinking this all sounds a little familiar. You might be thinking, can’t you do all of that from a smartphone? Couldn’t you just build an app for people to download, rather than go to the trouble and expense of installing big pieces of hardware?

But the issue with an app is getting people to download it. People are generally reluctant to download things onto their phones that they do not see themselves using on a regular basis, plus it raises privacy and security concerns. Having an information kiosk already there is convenient. There are also accessibility benefits, as large-form information touchscreens are easier to navigate than small smartphone screens.

Plus, there doesn’t have to be an either-or choice between using kiosks and people’s own devices to keep customers and visitors informed. The two can complement each other.

Instead of asking people to download an app, for example, you could have kiosks that act as central hubs for people to look up whatever information they need for their visit. When they find it, they have the option of scanning a QR code on their smartphone which takes them to a website where they can continue to access that information as they go about their business. This is a great way to support wayfinding around large premises, for example.

For more ideas of how interactive information kiosks could be deployed to improve the experience of your customers, clients, guests and visitors, get in touch with the Acante team today.