Kiosk Solutions Issue 19 - Page 17

interview With over 30 years of experience in the kiosk industry, Star Micronics is an installer of packaged and modular specialist kiosk printing solutions with an extensive range of products. Star’s experience pushes the boundaries in POS and Tablet POS to bring the most advanced kiosk printing solutions. With customers across retail and hospitality, Star’s solutions meet the demands of the most compact kiosk designs and offer high-performance printing. What have been the most significant changes to the industry over the past five years? Kiosks have been present for years, but their role and functionality is evolving. Challenged by advances in mobile technology alongside the demand for more compact and sophisticated designs that go beyond simply providing information to offering ordering and payment facilities, the kiosk has had to reinvent itself. Given their inherent versatility alongside a desire by retailers to reduce their cost base, kiosks have become part of a retailer’s overall omnichannel customer engagement strategy. They offer users a convenient endless aisle experience across various categories in addition to providing a means of reducing waiting times, as exemplified within the fast food sector, and creating more personalised customer service. 1 What are the main challenges for your sector? Kiosk printing manufacturers have had to adapt to produce printer mechanisms small enough to fit into the current trend of sleek, space- saving kiosks, while still maintaining a reasonable paper roll size. It’s important to work closely with kiosk manufacturers to gain an in-depth understanding of kiosk design to create tailored kiosk printing solutions that meet the exact requirements of the customer. 2 Where do you see the kiosk industry in the future? The growing use of tablets in kiosk design is without a doubt being driven by their lower cost, compact size/slim profile, ease of use, easy replacement as well as connected services. By integrating a printer with a built-in hub, a more compact and intelligent printing solution provides direct communication between the tablet and printer. This will open up new opportunities for kiosks to be present in an ever-wider range of environments and applications. 3 What will be the market drivers for the future? With a far more informed and tech- savvy customer, retail is having to provide a seamless shopping experience across a widening range of connected channels and social platforms. Added to this, the dynamics of the customer base are changing. Point of sale has to successfully cater to the needs of an ageing population as well as a younger customer who is looking to use a variety of channels and is seeking not simply a product, solution or service but a highly engaging experience. This is where interactive kiosks have, and will increasingly have, an important role to play in tomorrow’s omnichannel world. 4 Can kiosk industry companies afford to specialise? As kiosk design evolves, companies have to adopt a flexible approach to a changing kiosk environment. Modular, specialist kiosk printers are successful, as well as packaged printers for customers who prefer the familiarity of a desktop printer to place into a kiosk. Such printing solutions are opening up new avenues for kiosk manufacturers to design kiosks for both retail and hospitality that respond to the needs of a world in which kiosks will have an increasingly diverse role to play. 5 What does the kiosk of tomorrow look like? The current trend towards sleek, space-saving kiosks will, without doubt, become more prevalent as retailers seek kiosk solutions that are not only compact but also aesthetically pleasing. As a result, we will increasingly see slimmer kiosks requiring very compact, high-performance printing solutions. 6 How is Star Micronics keeping abreast of current and future industry developments? With printing solutions simplifying kiosk design, Star is actively aiding the development of new generation, compact tablet terminals with a wide range of solutions offering connectivity at every level. In addition to its wide range of mechanisms, Star’s robust packaged printers offer ease of installation, a variety of interface options and are CloudPRNT compatible for Internet-connected services, making them ideal for self-service kiosks where staff are present to replenish print media. Providing a lower cost solution compared with modular printers, packaged printers are easier to install and maintain especially with front- loading printers such as the mC-Print3. Star’s investment, expertise and established relationships with Microsoft, Apple and Google ensures developers can integrate Star printers with a consistent experience. Sophisticated drivers support industry standards from all major operating systems and being a member of the UPOS committee Star prides itself on the quality of its SDKs, source code and technical manuals available to developers. In addition, Star has expanded the Star VIP Club with the launch of the Kiosk VIP Club where members have access to additional sales, technical and marketing resources from Star. n 7 KIOSK solutions 17