The use of "endless aisle" kiosks in retail environments makes it possible for even the smallest retailer to offer an almost unlimited selection of products. At the same time, "endless aisle" kiosks can unlock a source of additional information and services that can help optimize the retailer's proposition and customer experience.
The deployment of "endless aisle" kiosks in retail environments helps the retailer in the fight against ever tighter profit margins, inventory costs, rising rents and personnel costs. A study by consultancy firm Deloitte shows that the major retailers worldwide have an average net margin of 2.3%. For specialist retailers these are even tighter margins with an average net margin of 1.33% in 2019. One of the biggest cost items retailers face are related to their stock. In the U.S. states, a study by the U.S. Census Bureau found that retailers hold 1.36$ of stock for every 1$ of sales. This is capital that is tied up, not liquid and therefore not available to invest in store improvements and new technology.
Using "endless aisle" kiosk concepts, it allows the retailer to offer more on less square meters. The retailer could therefore rent a smaller retail space, optimized on a digital offer on the store floor.
The integration of endless aisle kiosks into the store formula allows the retailer to focus on the in-store customer experience. It enables merchants to focus on where the retailer can compete with the online players and that is the "personal interaction" through the store staff.
It is therefore not surprising that there is a clear trend among successful online retailers, where they are increasingly choosing to open physical stores as well in order to grow sales and profits. This makes it clear that physical retail still matters, if this is done from a thought of offering better customer experience and through the use of technology.
But the successful deployment of self-service and "endless aisle" kiosks goes beyond buying a kiosk and an online catalog. In order to optimize the return on investment in self-service and "endless aisle" kiosks, these need to be included as an integral part of the store formula and find a permanent place in the sales and service funnel. It must be prevented that customers are overloaded with a sea of information and products. Thought should be given to the interaction between the sales clerk, the customer and the information and online services offered at the kiosks. A balance needs to be found between a physical stock of best-sellers, fast-movers, products that stimulate curiosity and "longtail" products on the kiosks. Also the use of POS-material needs to be considered to highlight the use and added value of the digital offer or service.
On the management side it is important to be able to analyze the data of the use of the kiosks in order to gradually get a valuable insight how the customer uses the kiosks and how the use of the kiosk can be optimized. This includes analyzing; search queries, the moments when an interaction moments on the kiosk are aborted, which kiosks deliver the best results at which location in the store, optimization of the interface and the interaction with the POS material.
It may be clear that the use of self-service and "endless aisle" kiosks can be a valuable addition to the proposition of any retailer, large or small, but this requires a culture within the organization that embraces "continuous innovation".