July 29, 2004, 12:00 AM

Store kiosks finally come of age in multi-channel strategies

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If a kiosk order is placed with an online credit card payment, the order is immediately sent into the fulfillment system for delivery. If a customer pays at the store counter, the order is placed on hold within the Staples.com system until payment is made at the POS terminal. Once payment is completed, the store POS system automatically sends a confirmation to the order management system at Staples headquarters to clear the order for fulfillment and delivery, Ragunas says.

The fast-track system encourages customers to order at kiosks and pay at the counter, helping to increase opportunities for store clerks to interact with customers and suggest additional purchases, Ragunas says.

The kiosks-which are thin-client desktop computers provided by Wyse Technology Inc.-integrate with Staples’ POS system, which operates with software from NSB Group (formerly STS Systems) and hardware from Fujitsu Transaction Solutions Inc. Thin-client kiosks cost $350 to $1,000 based on power and functionality, according to Wyse.

Gupta of LakeWest notes that most store kiosks, including thin-clients, will cost about the same as cash registers to install with all necessary wiring and system integration, from $3,000 to $5,000 per unit.

Multi-channel shopping offered by store kiosks helps Staples further benefit from the tendency of customers to spend more when they shop in more than one channel. “Customers who interact with us both in stores and our catalog are worth about two and a half times as much as customers who shop only in the store or in the catalog, but if customers shop all three channels, including the web, they’re worth four and a half times as much,” Ragunas says. He adds that Staples places stacks of catalogs next to its kiosks.

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