Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Using digital signs as "bait"

The Self-Service & Kiosk Association has a neat little article by Margot Myers, the manager of retail in-store programs for the U.S. Postal Service, who talks about using digital signs as a way to lure customers to the self-service kiosks found in some post offices:

One of our challenges is to improve the customer experience in more than 32,000 retail locations.

A second opportunity is to redirect customers and actually change customer behavior. Part of the long-standing tradition of how customers behave in our retail space is that many are totally focused on getting in the full-service queue and getting served as quickly as possible. That sounds reasonable. But what if there are 10 people in line and all you need are some stamps? Can digital signage help change customer behavior and redirect them to the Automated Postal Center (APC), a fully automated kiosk that not only sells stamps but also allows customers to mail packages?


The Post Office Channel had a positive impact on redirecting customers to in-store self-service options. Customers who saw the Stop and Turn screen were more likely to use vending (8.7% vs. 6.5%) and the APC (7.4% vs. 3.4%).


We also tracked revenue changes in the test sites as compared to alternate access locations within a five-mile radius. We measured customer awareness of the availability of alternate access locations before we installed the digital signage and again post-installation and found that awareness rose by 22 percent. Revenue from stamp sales declined at the test sites and increased at alternate access locations within the five-mile trade area, indicating that customers were getting the message that they did not have to come to the Post Office to complete a simple transaction such as buying stamps.

Given the number of existing self-service applications out there, I'm really surprised that more people aren't inclined to use digital signs to promote them. We've been running an instant credit application program in furniture stores for a number of years now, and we've definitely seen a big difference between the units that have top-mounted digital signage and those that don't, though I don't have the exact data at my figures. One thing I do know: digital signs that promote self-service kiosk applications don't work right by the store entrance. We suspect right now that it has to do with the "decompression zone" concept that Paco Underhill describes in Why we Buy: The Science of Shopping. Whatever it is, though, we now know enough not to have the signs -- or the kiosks, for that matter -- perform much better when located inside the store rather than close to the entrances.

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