Future of Retail: AWS Smart Store Kiosks Redefine Customer Experience
Retailers are always seeking new ways to enhance the customer experience and reduce friction during the shopping process. Generative AI has enabled innovations like a smart kiosk, a self-service platform that provides customers with a convenient and interactive way to shop. It enables customers to browse, purchase, and even receive personalized recommendations, all without the need for human assistance.
With Amazon Web Services (AWS) Smart Store Solutions, retailers are now able to take advantage of advanced technologies such as machine learning, computer vision, and the internet of things (IoT) to create smart kiosks that can understand customer behavior and preferences. For instance, a customer can walk up to a self-service kiosk integrated with Amazon One and sign in with their palm. The kiosk will know the profile/shopping history of the user and can interact with the user similar to an experienced employee.
The smart kiosk can use machine learning to personalize the shopping experience by offering product recommendations based on the customer’s browsing history or purchase patterns. This technology not only enhances the customer experience but also reduces the need for manual intervention, thereby reducing friction and improving efficiency. In this blog post, we’ll explore how one type of AWS Smart Store Solutions can provide retailers with new consumer experiences and drive growth.
What type of customers are suited for smart kiosks?
The traditional brick and mortar stores are seeing a dynamic shift in consumer behavior, coupled with staffing challenges. Shopper demographics are changing the way store interactions have traditionally been. Stores need to adapt to the new trend where consumers are highly tech savvy and want to move fast while still maintaining some traditional avenues.
Retail shoppers can be divided into four persona groups:
- Boomer Persona – Boomers represent shoppers who are accustomed to human interaction with people and find comfort in verbally describing their needs, they usually have lots of questions and utilize more time with staff.
- Gen-X Persona – Gen X shoppers have grown up in the beginning technology age and are very fluent with computer technology. They typically start of researching online and want to touch and try before buying. They also like talking to other people but are usually very informed.
- Gen-Y Persona – Gen Y shoppers are self-sufficient and generally make their own decisions based on social trends, they have a buy then try behavior and tend to return items that don’t work for them. They typically make quick decisions.
- Gen-Z Persona – Gen Z is still being studied, but leading indicators are they are impulsive shoppers and tend to have a throw away mentality. They are very tech savvy and are trend setters. They prefer non-human interaction, in many cases avoid human interaction when shopping.
The target customers for smart kiosks are retail shoppers who value the in-store shopping experience but seek more convenience and less friction. These customers tend to shop in multiple stores and have loose brand loyalty. They prefer the ability to physically touch and try products before making a purchase decision, but are not patient with long wait times for finding products, fitting rooms, or waiting in checkout lines. They seek a more streamlined and personalized shopping experience that is similar to their online shopping experiences.
By using a smart kiosk, these customers can interact with the store without the need for uncomfortable interaction with sales reps and long wait times, making their shopping experience more enjoyable and efficient.
Today, when customers walk into a retail store, they often face a confusing array of products to choose from and are left to navigate the aisles on their own. With limited staff, it can be difficult to find knowledgeable sales staff to answer their questions, and they may have to wait for assistance or track down an employee, resulting in long wait times.
Once the customer finally finds the product they want to purchase, they have to wait again in a checkout line, adding more time to the shopping experience. This can lead to frustration and potentially lost sales for the retailer. Alternatively, customers may turn to their phones to search for information on products from competitor sites, leading to missed opportunities for the retailer to upsell or cross-sell.
The improved customer experience with the self-service kiosk provides customers with greater control of their time and an efficient way to find the products they want. Customers can enjoy the same convenience of online shopping while physically interacting with the products in-store. By eliminating the need for customers to search for an available sales associate and wait for assistance, the kiosk provides a seamless and hassle-free shopping experience.
As a result, customers are more likely to have a positive shopping experience, which can increase brand loyalty and satisfaction. The kiosk also utilizes customer data to make personalized product recommendations, which can lead to increased sales for the retailer. Overall, the end-to-end customer experience provided by the kiosk can benefit both the customers and the retailer.
Using a smart kiosk
To get started, the customer simply scans their palm on the Amazon One device, which loads their profile at the kiosk. If they don’t have a profile, they can create one or login as a guest. Once logged in, the customer is greeted by a generative AI Q&A bot powered by Amazon Bedrock. This bot will ask some key questions to understand the customer’s interests and what products or functions they can find in the store. For example, if the customer is looking for shoes, the bot will ask what types of activities they enjoy and start to hone in on specifics, like how they want to use the product.
Based on the customer’s input, the kiosk will query the store’s product catalog and present a list of options. The customer can then dive deeper into the products with product descriptions, videos on how to use the products, and even comparison charts to competitive offers. If the Q&A bot doesn’t have the information, the kiosk can either connect the customer to a live chat through Amazon Connect for product support, or alert a sales representative to assist the customer.
The kiosk also has a camera that can be used for immersive retail (IR) functions. For example, if the customer is looking for a shirt or a hat, the IR function can take a live image of the customer and show the product virtually placed on them.
Once the customer has chosen a product, they can perform an inventory search to see how many are available in the store. If the product is limited, the kiosk can use Amazon Location Services to find availability in nearby chain stores. The customer can even use a microservice to request staff to get the product from the backroom and have it brought to the kiosk. Through an accompanying app, the kiosk can provide the staff member the location of the shelf where the product can be found for quicker service response time.
The customer can then purchase the product at the kiosk using the built-in point of sale solution, and provide a receipt through a printout or by email. If there are any products the customer decided not to purchase, the kiosk can send a notification to staff to pick up the items to reduce misplaced products. The self-service kiosk can be integrated with radio frequency identification (RFID) solutions to help manage inventory by tracking the location of scanned products. The customer can then logout and show the receipt at the door on the way out.
Utilization of smart kiosks
The kiosks can be strategically placed in different areas of the store, such as near high-traffic areas or within specific departments, to maximize their visibility and accessibility to customers. For example, in an electronics store, kiosks could be located near the TVs or computers department, where customers often have a lot of questions and need assistance. Similarly, in a sporting goods store, kiosks could be placed near the fitness equipment or outdoor gear section, where customers may want to learn more about products and their features.
The versatility of the kiosks also makes them applicable to various industries beyond retail. For instance, they could be used in hotels or amusement parks to provide guests with information and facilitate bookings for activities or services. Overall, the kiosk’s flexibility allows it to be customized to different industries and store layouts, providing value to both customers and businesses.
Imagine walking up to a kiosk and seeing a product catalog with promotions displayed on the screen. This is exactly what a customer can expect when using a self-service kiosk. But the kiosk is not just for browsing products; it can also be used as a display board for interactive advertising when not in active use.
There are three ways to measure the success of this solution:
- Interactions: Monitoring the number of customer interactions with the kiosk can indicate customer engagement and interest. If there is a significant increase in usage, it suggests that customers are finding the kiosk useful, whereas a decline in usage would indicate a need for improvement. Therefore, the kiosk should be designed to be fast, informative, and user-friendly for all ages.
- Customer feedback: A survey sent through email or text to the customer’s cell phone can provide direct feedback on their experience and shopping outcomes. This can provide valuable insights into customer satisfaction and identify areas that require improvement.
- Sales Impact: This can be determined by tracking revenue generated from kiosk-based sales. A successful kiosk should lead to increased sales, demonstrating the value of the kiosk to the retailer.
By using these success criteria, retailers can determine the effectiveness of their self-service kiosk solution and make improvements to enhance the customer experience and drive sales revenue.
Overall, the smart kiosk provides customers with valuable interactive information to make purchasing decisions—driving a better customer experience and leading to higher sales and cross-selling opportunities.
The smart kiosk is a game-changer for retailers looking to provide a more personalized and interactive shopping experience for their customers. With its Q&A bot, product catalog, and inventory search capabilities, customers can easily find and purchase products that meet their specific needs. The kiosk’s integration with Amazon One and Amazon Connect also enables seamless transactions and customer support.
Retailers looking to upgrade their stores should check out AWS Smart Store Solutions and reach out to their AWS representative to learn more about how smart kiosks can improve their customers’ experiences and increase sales.