In addition to the kiosk providing important product information, it also is designed to generate external advertising revenue (up to 20 advertisers with 6-second clips), thereby rendering it an electronic advertising vehicle and a vending machine. For those consumers interested in purchasing products for remote delivery, the kiosk provides a base for access to a secure Website for order processing.
INTERACTIVE DISPLAYS OFFER MULTIPLE FUNCTIONS
Interactive displays enable an operator to attract a larger target audience to a vending machine, provide more information that is pertinent to the customer, and track how the information is used. Interactivity is considered the best way to prove the effectiveness of a digital signage system.
An additional advantage of digital media is its potential for revenue generation through the sale of advertising space within the playlist. Niche marketing can provide an opportunity for non-machine based product revenues as a result of payments made on a per-performance broadcast.
While vending operators may elect to control their own media content, there are network providers offering broadcast and production services that enable the sale of presentation time to off-premises product promotions or external business entities.
Advertising sales may represent a significant number of incremental dollars to a vending operator’s bottom line profitability and may be gotten despite the fact the operator played no role in soliciting or attracting the advertising.
To gauge the long-term implication of digital media for vending, the experiences of three related service industries (the postal service, fast food restaurants, and gas stations) are instructive.
THE POSTAL SERVICE TESTS DIGITAL SIGNAGE
The U.S. Postal Service (USPS) has tested and deployed a digital communication network. USPS, considered an early adopter of digital signage, began testing the impact of digital versus static menu boards in post office lobbies nearly a decade ago.
In 2004, USPS introduced its Post Office Channel (a combination promotional channel and employee communications network). The USPS-TV network has benefited greatly from advancements in digital media technology, including content delivery methods and declining costs of production. The objective of the Post Office Channel is to improve the customer experience at more than 32,000 retail locations.
The Post Office Channel features product and service messages to educate and inform retail customers. For example, one message compares the product features of overnight express mail and 2-to-3-day priority mail. Another compares delivery confirmation to signature confirmation and indicates which form to use depending on which service the customer desires.
A second opportunity is to redirect customers and actually change customer behavior. Part of the long-standing tradition of how customers behave in a retail space is that many are focused on getting served as quickly as possible.
Suppose there are several customers in the general service line when all they need are stamps.
Digital signage can be used to help change customer behavior by redirecting stamp seekers to the Automated Postal Center (APC), an automated, unattended machine that sells stamps and allows customers to mail packages.
It is important to note that the digital content used to direct customers to the APC is very short (three to five seconds) and consists of brightly colored messages like “Jump the line. Ship packages at the APC.” Or, “Get out of line. Buy stamps at vending.”
As a side note, the postal service offers 70,000 off-site access self-service locations where customers can buy stamps or mail packages without assistance, including supermarkets, drug stores, convenience stores, ATMs, and online. The messages broadcast over USPS-TV in post office lobbies also contribute to customer awareness and confidence in these convenient alternative options.
FAST FOOD RESTAURANT MENU BOARDS
Closely akin to the promotional and operational functionality of the vending and OCS industry are fast food restaurants. While menu boards continue to be a focal point in most of these establishments, dynamic digital signage can be a complementary medium for in-store promotion and interactivity.