Self-serve retail has been around in retail for generations. It began with coin vending machines and now sees consumers becoming used to digital screens in shops, personalised online experiences and paying with their phone.
And self-serve still drives retail evolution, with ever more ways for consumers to consume. Bloomberg recently reported Amazon may open 3,000 Amazon Go locations by 2021.
Interactive kiosks will reach $9.22 billion globally in 2019, 17.6% up from 2018 (Source: Kiosk Marketplace).
Connected machines now offer convenient, personalised transactions with cashless payments, increasingly using new tech like Artificial Intelligence and machine learning.
Growth is expected to continue in this sector and we will see retailers and brands increasingly showing up as pop-up kiosks in locations like schools, workplaces, airports or railway stations. Kiosks, scan-and-go devices, mobile loyalty apps and other shopping technology will likely soon become pretty standard.
Advances in technology, competition and the need for companies to succeed financially are huge factors in driving change, but what customers want sets the direction. If a solution is quicker, more convenient, cheaper or easier for customers – it will be more successful. A few years ago, who could have imagined ordering online and getting it delivered same day?
Read more about how self-serve is transforming retail here.
What does this mean for the Post Office?
Self-service kiosks (SSKs) have been a familiar part of many of our branches for many years now. Research shows they are most popular among younger consumers and posting letters and parcels are still the top transactions done on them.
We want to continually improve, innovate and modernise what we offer. We are working with partners and suppliers, so customers have easy access to our products and can start journeys online or in branch as needed. Many largely online transactions require people to physically prove their identity, collect or return parcels, apply postage, pay bills, or carry out personal or business banking.
This is why Post Office branches are crucial to our strategy, as they provide a physical location, with trusted, professional Postmasters and branch teams, there to help customers get the important things done.
Speedy service is key to SSK success. Research shows having functioning Self-service kiosks in place reduces waiting times across all parts of a Post Office. Nearly four in 10 people have used a Post Office SSK at some point, most customers now find them easy to use and they can significantly speed up service.
We need to continue to provide great experiences to everyone who comes through our doors, and with Christmas around the corner, our SSKs will be as invaluable as ever during the festive peak.