The COVID-19 pandemic threw the world for a loop. Virtually overnight, everything about the way businesses operated changed. Now, as they come to terms with new operating environments, many are looking for ways to deliver a good employee and customer experience, while improving safety and reducing costs.
Kiosks, the blanket term for self-service devices that automate transactions, can be a key part of the solution. Every day, new kiosks are being deployed in a variety of settings, including healthcare, retail, banks, food service, government agencies, school campuses, and more.
Kiosks for ticket purchase at movie theaters, airport check ins and wayfinding in malls are all familiar, but there are many other uses — especially now. For example, CleanslateUV is putting its sanitizers in department stores and restaurants so employees and customers can sanitize phones, keys and wallets when they enter and leave. Metrolinx is installing personal protective equipment (PPE) vending machines at transit hubs to ensure that passengers have access to masks and other safety items they may need to ride public transit.
And it doesn’t stop at PPE. Pharmacies are increasingly using kiosks to store and dispense drugs safely, and there’s a pilot program in Vancouver testing opioid dispensers from Signifi, using biometrics to deliver safe doses to marginalized communities.
Kiosks can also increase convenience, while allowing for additional safety. Snaile’s secure parcel lockers are turning up in condominium and apartment buildings to keep up with the volume of online shopping, while Sport Chek is using secure parcel lockers in its stores for customers who buy online but prefer to pick up in person.
Many employers are now using entry way kiosks to screen employees for COVID-19 symptoms, while others are automating back-office functions, such as cash management and logging in and out of shifts.
While it seems as though kiosks are everywhere, it’s a complex process to deploy them, particularly at scale. If you’re considering kiosks as a way to reduce person-to-person contact or improve a business process, here are some best practices for your next project.
Kiosks are already helping businesses get back to work and go about their everyday activities safely, quickly, and with greater transparency and visibility. As the technology evolves and the business case becomes even stronger, we’re likely to see rapid growth in this space.
Peter Collier is vice president of technology products and services at SCI Group.
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