Increasing Sales With In-store Ordering On Tablets

Ipad Ordering KiosksElectronic Art has recently deployed an in-store retail ordering system for grocery in the bakery department for our client.  These custom systems utilize tablets as self service kiosk systems to empower customers to control their own experience when ordering in the store. The tablets are locked down in an enclosure to protect the systems and prevent tampering, along with software security.

The grocer loves it because all of the available SKU’s are available for ordering and searchable.  The old fashioned three ring binder system was inefficient, not a measurable media and if a page got torn out… well that Sku just never gets ordered anymore and the retailer is stuck with inventory.

While currently undergoing a pilot deployment phase for a retail grocer they have seen a large measurable increase in sales. While I cannot disclose the amount, it is sizable. Making retailer and vendors very happy while serving the customers needs and desire to use self service technology for interacting with the bakery.  And the best part?  They even take orders after hours when the bakery is closed and the staff have gone home.  Self Service technology can increase sales for your business too.  Contact us to find out more.

CEO Renamed as Chairperson for DSA Committee

I’ve had the good fortune to be involved with the Digital Signage Association since it’s inception a few years ago, as well as membership in the SSKA (Self Service & Kiosk Association).  In the past few months both of those organizations combined into one non profit association which makes my life a lot easier.  The new association is the Digital ScreenMedia Association ( notice how the kept the DSA moniker). And with a membership of over 650 end users, deployers, manufacturers and agencies it is a pretty powerful organization.

I’ve been the chairperson for the DSA Marketing & PR committee for about 1.5 years now and with the merger of the two associations and two committees it was a bit up in the air if I would be the new combined committee chairperson or if the esteemed Bill Lynch of the SSKA committee would lead going forwards.   Well it’s official that I am indeed the new chairperson of the combined committee and we had our first conference call a few weeks ago to engage the now larger committee.  It was a great call as we reviewed old news and new items including some very exciting programs we will be recommending to the board.   I can’t speak of them yet but I’m hopeful they will make an impact in the marketing of the DSA, giving us several PR opportunities and help fulfill the mission of the DSA.   More word on this when it’s public knowledge.

To learn more about the DSA and get involved as a user/integrator/agency of digital signage, mobile or kiosk technologies visit their web site at: http://www.digitalscreenmedia.org/

KioskCom & the Digital Signage Show

Well, its that time again when we pack up touch screen kiosks and LCD screens and rush to get our software apps ready to display at the upcoming www.KioskCom.com trade show in Las Vegas on April 14 & 15th 2010 at the Mandalay Bay resort and casino.  We’ve exhibited at this show for many years and  are happy to be a part of it all again.  This time we have a larger 10 x 20 booth and have one of our many hardware partners who have offered to share the booth with us.  The good folks at www.Zivelo.com are providing their kiosk hardware for the booth including the C10, C2, C6 and the NEW C5 model being built just for the show!  We resell all of their models and are always impressed with the quality of the craftsmanship.  We often partner with Zivelo and provide the software applications for many of their clients.  Come meet Ziver and Ross from Zivelo at our booth.

Also, you’ll see our www.Lobstr.net product that has been rebuilt with new CSS3 based programming and a new pricing model for local operation (no subscriptions!).  And a new kiosk application that offers SMS coupon and lead generation services to drive traffic to your store, along with many of our past projects for various fortune 1000 clients.

Some news, next year the show will have a new name and location.  Goodbye Las Vegas, hello San Francisco! And the new name focuses more on the customer and less on us vendors:  Customer Engagement Technology World which will be at www.CETWorld.com . I like the new direction and the guys at JD Events who put on the show are some really nice folks that do a great job!  We are looking forward to the new format next year. See the press release here.

Are you planning to come to the show or perhaps still on the fence?  Well, let me offer you a free pass into the Expo show floor so you can come visit us  and our peers in the industry.  We will be in booth #205 right across from our business partners at Samsung.  Use the discount code at checkout of:   2LV49F and you’ll get the $50 expo fee on us.   Stop by and see us!  Register at http://www.kioskcom.com/register.asp

I hope to have some good photos and interesting products to discuss after the show, and you can follow my tweets on Twitter during the show at:  http://www.twitter.com/KioskGuy

Do you have a comment?  Add your comment below and I’ll give you a special shout out at the show!

Kiosk Financing available from IBM

If you’ve been thinking about implementing a self service kiosk program for your business, but  the capital expenditure may not be in your budget at the moment, you’ll be happy to hear that financing is available from IBM Global Finance division for IBM and non-IBM hardware, software, services and maintenance.   That means that they could help finance your kiosk hardware, software from Electronic Art and even the installation / deployment and ongoing maintenance contracts.   By paying in monthly installments for the entire project, your annual cost to implement the project is much, much less than paying for the entire project out of pocket this year.   Now you can’t afford NOT to move forward with your self service initiatives to grow your business and keep your satisfied customers!

Click here to Find out more about IBM financing and for information on their convenient pay system.

As IBM business partners, Electronic Art can help implement IBM’s superb kiosk hardware and provide custom kiosk software programs such as customer loyalty card programs, health care applications, lead generation solutions, retail and hospitality kiosk applications and so much more.  Contact us today for more information.  513-321-1771 or use our contact form .

Digital Signage Expo in Review

The Digital Signage Expo 2009 was described as “successful” by several retailers in attendance, according to event organizers. The conference and trade show at the Las Vegas convention center, which ran in February drew just over 3,000 attendees, down from last year’s 3,500, and 188 exhibitors, a record number. The trade show floor was 19 percent larger than 2008, with over 58,000 square feet of exhibitions.  I’ve attended this show for years and could not see all of the expo booths in the short time I was there.  But what I did see was great, so I’ll share with you some of my favorite items from the show. I was posting a lot of what I saw on Twitter that day and by the end my feet were sore and my eyes were bleeding from all of the signage.

We did not exhibit at this show due to time and budget constraints, but we will be exhibiting and speaking at the upcoming KioskCom.com  Self Service Expo May 6-7th, 2009, also in Las Vegas.  KioskCom has a broader audience of both kiosks and digital signage as many deployments utilize both technologies.  There is a lot of crossover in the two technologies, which is why agencies such as ours attend, since we offer solutions in both segments.  By the way,  I wish the show management would pick some others venues from time to time.  Seems like I’m always in Vegas and that town can wear you down.  But I digress.

Digital Signage Association MeetingThe DSE show was much larger than the DSE east show in Philadelphia back in October 2008.  That event was very small and didn’t have much traffic.  Disappointing to everyone.  But the Vegas show always seems to be huge.  I went to Vegas early to attend the Digital Signage Association’s bi-annual advisory board meeting, of which I’ve been a member since the beginning.  We had some new board members from Target and Six Flags Inc..  who added to the lively discussions on how to improve the mission and structure of the organization.   It was good to see many of my peers in the industry and I was fortunate enough to share some drinks after with several of them.

Now for the review of the products and services I enjoyed at the show:
It was interesting to see the number of 3D screens from makers such as LG, Samsung, Phillips and others.  Everyone was trying to impress with this new variation of the medium.  Photos don’t do it justice but the effect can be really interesting.  Most people I spoke to think it is a bit of a fad or gimmick and are unhappy with the shallow viewing radius.  You also must be many feet away from the screen to get the effect and not make the eyes strain.  So this is not to be hung too close to the audience.   Another consideration is that the content must be rendered in 3D using tools such as Maya or 3D studio max.  It is often more costly and time consuming to produce content in 3D.   With that said, I think the early adopters will get a lot of buzz around their use of it, if done well.  And for many brands, this point of difference is worth the investment.   We hope some of our customers will consider the use of 3D when appropriate.

Premier Mount with player shownWe met with and really like the Premier Mounts folks.  Their products incorporate a oval tubular design that gives their stands, wall mounts and ceiling mounts a upscale look.  Their easy to swivel mounts make switching between portrait and landscape modes very easy.  Check them out online at www.Mounts.com .  These guys can fabricate just about any metal mounting need you may have.

The good folks at Tightrope had a very yellow booth and were showcasing their content management tools.  We’ve never used their products but I enjoy their Twitter posts about the industry.  As I was driving to Vegas from California I was keeping up with them and several other DSE attendees. At these events there are literally dozens of management products.  Most very good, each with their own unique spin.  We are VARS for several as some are better for certain campaigns then others.  We saw our partners Scala at the show, as well as Stinova, Wirespring and Web DT.  Stinova was showing off their web based management tools which we like very much for the middle market.  This German based firm is now making headway in the USA with VARs such as Electronic Art.   Web DT have really good thin client players that we resell and they’ve made some good improvements to their software.  They also have a nice app we can offer our clients that you’ve probably seen which allows for triggers to play content.  For example if you pick up a cell phone in a wireless store, it triggers the tool to play content on screen about that particular phone device.   By utilizing this tool, we can deploy this solution much faster than building from scratch and can focus more on the content being provided.  We are excited about offering this tool and will have more details to share soon.

The guys at SpaceNet provide satellite networks for digital signage and kiosks.  They provide the network for Shell Gas & C-stores for the video content at the pump.  This solution broadcasts a variety of media (news, ads, TV shows) via multicast enabling both local and national media/ads with day parting.  Integrating this solution could also provide a retailer with a backup network should a store network ever go down.  Great idea and cool technology!

Another product which we use here at Electronic Art that was seen at DSE is LogMeIn.  This remote management tool goes way beyond remote desktop or VNC.  It provides a unique web based remoting tool that enables providers such as ourselves to help maintain remote systems, do file transfers, remote printing and even mini-meetings like WebEX.  The new product from them that I like is the LogMeIn Embedded product.  It supports the Windows XP Embedded OS found on many kiosks and digital signage players, and enables a one-to-many centralized management interface that can allow us to work in the background while users are still interacting with Kiosks or signage.  All with an 256-bit SSL encryption.  This tool is awesome.

GestureTek was back this year showing off their multi-touch table hardware.  This is similar to Microsoft Surface and their product along with many others are starting to show up in retail and hospitality.  While I liked the hardware and overall concept, the WW2 Tank game they showcased didn’t respond very well.  I was disappointed in the multi-user game that wouldn’t allow me to change direction of the tank.  Not sure why, but I’m sure it was due to being in a trade show environment.  Things go wrong.   But GestureTek has been around for a long time. I first saw them at a kiosk show in Orlando back in 2004 where they showed off the AirPoint system.  It’s good to see they are still in the marketplace and innovating.

Tek Panel touch LCDAt Electronic Art we offer a lot of commercial LCD screen options, and each were present at the show such as LG, Samsung, Phillips, and more.  But a unique screen provider that we really like is Tek Panel.  They have military grade screens with built in player PC’s and are available with touch screens.  We are big proponents of interactive digital signage to allow your customers to touch your digital signage and be ultimately measurable.  Their new thin bezel hardware enables us to give you an all-in-one signage solution much like our IBM AnyPlace kiosks are an all-in-one kiosk system.  Too often with other screens we have to have a touch overlay put onto a client’s screen, but this system is ready to go out of the box and makes for a really clean installation.  Contact us for pricing.

Outdoor digital signageWe also saw our new large format outdoor signage hardware at the show.  Symbicon is based in Finland and makes a really nice system with built-in HVAC to keep the enclosure warm in the winter and cool in the summer.  It is water tight with built in PC and great for retail, ski resorts and more.  This sign is impressive and built to take the brutal outdoor environment that most signs just cannot live in.  Contact our sales staff for an introduction and pricing.

A much smaller screen that we liked is the AdView DM10i Smart Sign.  This retail onshelf player allows for a low cost and easy to deploy video player.  We really like the 10.4″ LCD display and multi-level drill down menus to select up to 80 different video files. It supports Mpeg, Jpeg and MP3 file formats and has a replaceable custom frame.  It even records which keys were pressed most and can export to a USB format in Excel format for a simple reporting interface.  Let us know if you’d like a demo of this really nice retail shelf talk solution.

One of my favorite items was the projection touch signage from Brain.  This film enables us to project either traditional passive content onto a glass storefront window, or provide an interactive touch film to the window to allow guests to search through interactive catalogs after hours, view specials and coupons, or play a branded game.  All through the exterior of the glass, though the film is applied to the inside of the glass.   They were showing that even with a low cost project ($600) you can get a good quality projection onto their product.  Even better with a higher quality projector, obviously, but the projectors they used were great. This is also a way to enable a multi-touch screen as described above for GestureTek.  But this enables us to fabricate a custom enclosure or simply use your existing window and contour cut the film to any shape you like.  In many ways it is better than a plasma screen! It is available in up to a 145″ diagonal size, as a wide viewing angle and is even good in high ambient light environments.  We were so impressed that we are setting up a reseller relationship to begin to offer this product to your company.

touch windows

I enjoyed catching up with some old friends so I’ll give a shout out to Ed Crowley formerly of 5Point now with OneSource, Dick Trask formerly of Scala now with StarMount,  Linda Hofflander of Wireless Ronin, Tom Nix of Dynamax, Mike Honkomp formerly with ESP now with DigiKomp, Bill Gerba & Michael Smith at Wirespring,  Jimmy Dun of DynaSign, Bob Fincher and all of the guys at Networld Alliance, and Margo Meyers formerly with the USPS and now consulting in our industry. She is a great resource and has been on the user side of interactive for years.  I enjoyed my time with each of you, even those of you who are my competitors.   It’s good to see a class act like you helping to grow our industry.

Is it a kiosk … or is it digital signage?

Is that interactive display a kiosk or is it a digital sign? The line separating the two is getting thinner, and it helps to create different definitions for each. Tim Burke, owner of Electronic Art, takes a stab at telling the two apart. Check out the article at: SelfService.org which describes several perspectives on the topic.

Field Agent Mason, Reporting In

I decided this afternoon that I’ve neglected my adoring public (bwa-ha) too long.  So, in good spirits I present to you- kiosk success stories from the field!   While neither are Electronic Art projects, I think we can glean valuable lessons for future projects from these two kiosks. Case #1: a retail store kiosk for hair color product.  For me, the magic of this kiosk was the placement and enclosure.  It was very relevant, mounted on an end cap shelf right next to the product, not shoved off in a corner somewhere easily ignored.  It was also very inviting and unobtrusive. The clear call to action grabbed my attention right away – not because I’m obsessed with kiosks, but because the designers made it very clear what the piece was meant to accomplish, and that human interaction was called for.   So high marks to this project for placement and enclosure design.  However, I couldn’t tell you without being there what product line the kiosk represented, because there was no branding on the enclosure, or even the software design (which was just a flat, white background with copy).  While the application was straightforward and quickly accomplished its goal, I was hooked and wanted to do more – but alas there was no ‘more’.   The lesson:  placement – don’t hide your kiosk;  intent – make it clear and inviting to passers by; design – simple and elegant, but beware of boring; and hook – utilize the opportunity to engage the user for a second touch later – invite them to sign up for email blasts or future promotions.    Case #2:  a convention center ‘concierge’ kiosk.   Found in the lobby of a local convention center,  this piece is noteworthy because of the smart utilization of the area around the actual kiosk.   For this unit, the manufacturers not only used a smart enclosure – giving them opportunities for advertising, design appeal, and instructions on the base of the kiosk, maximizing impact.   They also chose to use a digital sign placed above the kiosk to really pull people in with brightly colored ads and promotions of upcoming events and attractions.   The footprint for this piece was pretty small and unobtrusive overall, but the people behind the project really utilized all of that small space very effectively. The lesson: you’re investing a lot in the project, make the most of your enclosure and the ‘free’ space around it.

IBM Financing Makes It Easy To Invest Now

With the credit crisis and market volatility, you may be holding off on purchasing hardware right now, but IBM Global Financing is making it easy for our customers to buy with a 3 month deferral on payment, or a leasing program that can give you a low monthly rate.  Leasing is great because you can expense the costs each year in full, versus depreciating the capital purchase over 5-7 years.  And you can always upgrade at the end of the lease, which is useful with technology.

See IBM’s announcment and details here:

http://www-03.ibm.com/financing/partner/promotions/esa.html 

So if you are thinking of purchasing or leasing kiosk technology, contact Tim or Rob at Electronic Art and we will walk you through the process, and help make the financing easy.

From the article, benefits of leasing:

Client benefits
  • Leasing reduces risk and provides a hedge against technology obsolescence
  • Leasing offers payment and term flexibility tailored to match either project or revenue-generation milestones
  • Leasing preserves cash and credit lines for more strategic investments such as facilities expansion, increased research and development, sales force expansion or receivables financing
  • Leasing enables more acquisitions within their current budget
  • Leasing accelerates implementation of economically attractive new technologies
  • Leasing reduces total cost of ownership and improves price-performance Leasing improves key financial measurements such as return on assets or debt-to-equity ratios

Electronic Art Furthers “Passage to Freedom” Tourism Initiative with Installation of Two Interactive Kiosks

Statewide Ohio Underground Railroad Tourism Program Underway

CINCINNATI – Electronic Art (www.ElectronicArt.com), an interactive agency specializing in custom kiosk software, kiosk hardware and integrated Web sites, recently installed interactive kiosks and custom-designed software at the Ohio Historical Society building in Columbus, Ohio, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati.

These two kiosks are part of the “Passage to Freedom” initiative, which promotes tourism to historical sites throughout the state that relate to the Underground Railroad. Visitors can access detailed information about the site and its history using touch screen interfaces, simple navigation, and focused content. Electronic Art’s EasyShip XL model kiosks also showcase nearby points of interest and events to make a visit to the area complete.

Each kiosk is linked to the Web site www.passagetofreedomohio.com, and is constantly updated with the latest information about local and regional events, such as fairs, arts and cultural festivities, and children’s activities. Continue reading

New Onscreen keyboard requires a new mindset

Recently, Chris McMahon passed on a link to me about a brand new methodology of using onscreen keyboards called Swype. While in it’s infancy, it seems really cool. Instead of touching each letter individually, you draw a path between letters and a word matching search engine helps to do a predictive text to speed you up. CNet did a quick video on their site about it from the TechCrunch50 show (see below). It would not work for every project, and introducing a new mindset on input may confuse your customers so you should only use it when appropriate to your audience. And expect to have to give assistance while people learn it, but it can provide an impactful WOW factor to your edgy project! You will definately have people talking about your software.

To integrate, it requires their software which includes an SDK that allows our developers to add the onscreen keyboard to your application. The Swype concept is made up of three major components:

  1. Input path analyzer
  2. Word matching search engine with accompanying word database
  3. User interface – which is customizable by OEM’s such as Electronic Art to match the branding of the application

 

I’d love to get a project where this would be appropriate, as it could really add some extra bling to the kiosk or digital signage project. Could that be your project? 

A word of caution: No matter if you plan to use a physical keyboard or an onscreen keyboard such as the Swype system… always consider your customer. What will they prefer, what will be most intuitive and easy for them. Test with A/B testing if you have budget. But don’t let the input method get in the way of your killer app and kiosk’s success.