January 11, 2002, 12:00 AM

Circle K looks to web-based kiosks to drive traffic

In-store kiosks are offering some interesting technology, such as Info Touch’s deal with Circle K stores that allows store visitors to audition for a spot on Comedy Central.

Kurt Peters

Executive Editor

 

Circle K’s plan to deploy web-enabled kiosks, called ZapLink kiosks, at its convenience stores includes some interesting peripheral features. While kiosks developed by Info Touch Inc. have basic web-based functions such as browser access to surf the Internet and check e-mail, the kiosks also have interactive functions.

Info Touch, which has a web kiosk network worldwide, developed a program called "Speak Your Mind" which allows store visitors to record personal messages with video and audio equipment attached to the kiosk, says Hamed Shahbazi, chairman of Info Touch. The messages can be heard and seen by anyone else in the Info Touch network. For Circle K’s customers, however, there is an interesting twist: The cable network, Comedy Central, is sponsoring the "Speak Your Mind" feature at Circle K in order to find new comedians. Comedy Central is promoting the "Speak Your Mind" function on Circle K’s kiosks on its network and in the Phoenix area where most of Circle K’s kiosk base is located. Currently there are 35 kiosks installed in the Phoenix area, says Shahbazi. It costs 19 cents a minute to perform any function on the kiosk, he says.

Shahbazi says Circle K hopes the new kiosk technology will increase store traffic and loyalty. Other features on the ZapLink kiosks will be interactive games, bill payment and voice over Internet protocol for making phone calls anywhere in the world via the web.

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