As consumers become more accustomed to remote technologies, web kiosks will become popular fixtures in convenience stores and other retail locations, industry analysts say. Rufus Connell, industry business manager for researchers Frost & Sullivan, says deploying web-enabled kiosks is a promising strategy. "E-mail is one of the largest forms of communication today and offering public access to that is a pretty positive step," he says.
Phoenix-based Circle K, which is installing up to 1,200 kiosks in convenience stores across the country, is a leading proponent of such applications. Robert Needham, president and CEO of Global Access Alliance Inc. of Bessemer, AL, says web kiosk technology is emerging as consumers become more reliant on the Internet as part of their lifestyle.
Global Access Alliance is developing and installing kiosks for Circle K stores in Philadelphia and New Jersey. The kiosks feature standard services such as web browser access to surf the Net, shop and check e-mail. The kiosks also have some new features that allow users to download single songs via e-mail or infrared PDA, tape video and audio messages that can be sent via e-mail, as well as providing advertising opportunities and couponing for packaged goods companies.
Needham says he envisions the cost of the web kiosks to drop to $6,000, in the range of low-cost ATMs that c-stores have deployed for many years.