August 27, 2008, 12:00 AM

Boarding pass in hand, pick up a digital camera or MP3 player from Best Buy

Travelers in airports can now purchase a $500 digital camera or a number of other consumer electronics items to take on the plane from web-enabled kiosks branded by Best Buy. The retailer is testing 12 self-service Best Buy Express kiosks from ZoomSystems at several airports.

Travelers are used to picking up a newspaper, a paperback or a souvenir in airport shops, but now many can purchase a $500 digital camera or a number of consumer electronics items to take on the plane from web-enabled kiosks branded by Best Buy.

Best Buy Express, a network of 12 self-service ZoomShop kiosks provided and managed over the Internet by San Francisco-based ZoomSystems, launched last month as a test of how to extend the retailer’s reach beyond its 1,300 stores and BestBuy.com, Best Buy Co. Inc. says.

The kiosks-deployed at airports in Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and San Francisco-feature touch-screen computer screens that let shoppers find and choose products available in the kiosk through a user interface similar to that of an e-commerce web site. Entering debit or credit card information activates the kiosk (after credit authorization over the Internet) to dispense the chosen product into a tray. When a shopper grabs the item from the tray, optical sensors trigger the payment card transaction over the Internet.

“The launch of Best Buy Express is another way for Best Buy to provide consumers with the products they need from a brand they trust, even while they’re on the go,” says Chris Stidman, vice president of strategic planning at Best Buy. “Whether travelers are looking to purchase a last-minute gift or are in need of a replacement for a lost, forgotten or broken product, these kiosks will allow them to purchase the product they want from a brand they trust.”

Best Buy is offering products including digital cameras, mobile phone and computer accessories, MP3 players, headphones, speakers, portable gaming devices, gift cards, travel adapters, and electronic chargers.

ZoomSystems manages the digital content on the kiosk computer screens, including pricing and product details, through an Internet connection to a central database. It also manages the stocking of each kiosk, helps Best Buy and other clients plan product assortments, and handles customer service and product returns, a ZoomSystems spokeswoman says.

ZoomSystems has deployed more than 650 ZoomShop kiosks in airports and other locations throughout the U.S. for clients including Macy’s Inc., Sony Corp. and Apple Inc., the spokeswoman says.

paul@verticalwebmedia.com

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