Out & About: Kohl’s Kiosk

Remember those boots that I talked about my wife finding at JC Penney, the last time I wrote an Out & About (their “Find More” kiosk)? Well, they really didn’t work out – they weren’t the right boots. So, the past couple of weeks have been “mission-on” again to find the right boots. She/we’ve searched offline and online at virtually every store to find these boots, and finally, at our local Kohl’s, we found what seemed to be a solid substitute – the perfect combination of style, color, versatility, and something that can’t be overlooked insofar as women’s shoes go – price. As was the case at JC Penney, while my wife found boots, I found another example of Interactive Out-of-Home (IOOH) – the Kohl’s Kiosk.

This was some kiosk, if you ask me. They seem to be getting better and better, the more I see. My first impression was positive, but I had to put it up against the scorecard to get the full picture. So, let’s take a look.

Purpose – the common purpose for all of these in-store kiosks is to obviously drive the consumer to purchase. Those are the table stakes – you want to put a kiosk like this in a store – how is going to help the store drive sales? Once that question is answered, I think it’s important to also understand if & how the kiosks are making the shopping experience easier for the consumer and in any way, making the life of the store employee better. It stands to reason that if the kiosk accomplishes those goals, they’re going to drive a fair amount of sales. So, it is here – both in making the consumer’s experience easier and the employee’s life better. These kiosks are a price-checker, in-store catalog, and check-out machine all in one. What else do you need, other than human-to-human contact? This is an element that shouldn’t be overlooked, but I think now more than ever, consumers are more purposeful shoppers vs. casual shoppers. They know what they want and don’t need a lot of help & interaction when they’re in this mindset. All they really need is the Kohl’s Kiosk.

Drama – I think these are fabricated and located just right. They’re not obnoxious in their form, but they’re prominent and noticeable. They don’t block any major traffic areas, but they’re convenient to access via those major traffic areas. In our local Kohl’s, I saw 2 of these kiosks (1 in the shoe department, 1 near the frames), and they were both next to/facing the isle, and whether or not you were looking, you were bound to notice them. The smart thing in their form – they occupy space from floor to ceiling, all of the interaction points are well-placed (touchscreen at eye/torso level and price-scanning/check-out at waist level), and include multiple awareness points (high above the clothes and fixtures, there is a 4-sided “Kohl’s Kiosk” sign and again, at eye level, there is a looping animation with a clear “Touch Screen” indicator/call-to-action). Everything about the form and placement seems to be well thought-out and purposeful.

Usability – blah. I understand that these kiosks need to access the real-time database and as a result, are going to run a little bit slower than I’d like. This is probably not an issue to the average consumer. All in all, considering the vast inventory, it wasn’t bad at all. I just hate seeing the arrow & hourglass. They modified this experience from their website experience, namely to adjust to the touchscreen form. The buttons were big enough and spaced out nicely. The information was presented in a clear, easy-to-use way, and the navigation was intuitive (no different than a good web experience). I also liked the fact that they had a global navigation menu docked to the bottom of the screen that allows the user to access any of the main categories in a click.

Interactivity – this was a single user, single touch experience and for the most part, the touchscreen was responsive. The true value in this kiosk, for me, comes in the form of the other interactive elements, aside from its touchscreen. Consumers have the ability to take any piece of merchandise with a UPC tag and scan it. In return, they’ll see the price, the quantity, and where in-store it’s located. In addition, to take it one step further, if the consumer wants to pay out via credit/debit card straight from the kiosk, they have that ability to do that, too. Important to note – this means that these systems must tie to the store’s POS system, which means there is a level of complexity and integration to the solution, which means this was not an afterthought. Impressive.

Information – A+ on all of the product information and access to the in-store and online merchandise. If you want it at Kohl’s, you can get it through this kiosk. But I’m still not seeing a consistent social integration through these. There are many ways to approach this, from being able to access the brand’s social presences, to allowing the consumer to “like” a particular product, to letting them “share this” to their own social communities after purchasing a product, to consumer/social reviews. I hope to see more of this type of content in future iterations of these in-store experiences.

Personalization – no real personalization to speak of through the kiosks, but they have an incredible opportunity to do something special via a loyalty program or simply through their credit cards. The card-scanning mechanism is already in place. With a couple of back-end hooks, they could make this a unique experience for their most loyal customers.

Hands-down, this is the most versatile in-store kiosk I’ve seen this year. I think it should be a model for retailers who are considering one of these in their store. I anticipate seeing more social integration in the coming year. An interesting thought that hit me this morning – I’ve seen and reviewed experiences like this in stores like Walmart, Target, JC Penney, and Kohl’s – staples in middle-class America shopping. Exposing these consumers to technology like this and getting them comfortable with it not only shows confidence in what they consumer will do/interact with, it is also gives us hope that this could be something that is adopted by the masses sooner rather than later.

Have you seen any of these kiosks? What were your impressions? Would love to hear them!

6 thoughts on “Out & About: Kohl’s Kiosk

  1. Cori Drew

    Great article – do you know who did the work on Kohls kiosks? Did they hire a 3rd party or do the work in-house? I agree these kiosks are lightyears better than any I have seen.

  2. Mike Cearley Post author

    Hey Cori – thanks for stopping by. I think your blog is great, even though I can only understand 1/2 of what’s up there. :-) Re: who made this. I don’t know for sure. I think McCann Erickson is still their AOR and they have many shops under their umbrella. It wouldn’t surprise me if one of them did it. I don’t see Kohl’s doing this themselves. The scale is massive. Over 1,000 stores and I’m guess an average of 2 kiosks/store. That alone almost mandates that they needed professional help.

  3. Karleen Gill

    Thank you for this useful article. I can’t order from the Kohls website because my credit card has a Canadian billing address, and I thought I’d never be able to order any of the items from their web site. However, if I can order the same items from their in-store kiosk, and don’t need to provide the billing address for my credit card, I’ll be all set (I have a US shipping address). I think you’ve already answered my next question, but I’ll ask, just to be sure: Can I pay for my order at the kiosk by swiping my credit card, just like I’d do at the cash register?
    Thanks again for your helpful article.

  4. Mike Cearley Post author

    Karleen – thanks for reading. At the time I wrote this, you could pay directly at the kiosk. I have not gone through the experience recently, but I would only imagine that the functionality still remains.

  5. Brett Snyder

    The Kohl’s Kiosk was developed with Netkey – now part of NCR with third party hardware and enclosure.

  6. Can't Say

    Netkey was only a small component and used for security purposes. and really had almost nothinbg to do with the kiosk. Development , design and logistics was handled solely by Kohl’s internal.

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