The Kiosk Invasion
By Tony Burkardt (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Don Franz (email@example.com)
Within the photo-imaging industry, the term “kiosk” brings a limited vision to our eyes. However, to the general
public, the term is more likely to conjure up thoughts of self-service, ATM and airport check-in. Admittedly, the
proliferation of photo-imaging kiosks being installed is substantially greater than we could ever image for the
number of minilabs, but they still form only a minor share of the overall kiosk population. According to Francie
Mendelsohn of Summit Research Associates (www.summit-res.com), there were close to 1.3 million kiosks
operating in North America at the close of 2008 (see Figure 1). Photofinishing News (www.photo-news.com)
estimates that 116,000 were photo-imaging kiosks, representing 9 percent of the total, and more than half
serve as input stations without an integral printer. However, photo-imaging kiosks are the dominant category
for countertop models.
Figure 1 Interactive Kiosks: U.S. and International Projections
According to NCR, consumers are increasingly willing to use self-service devices. A 2008 Self-Service
Consumer Survey by NCR indicated that:
• 86% of U.S. and Canadian consumers are more likely to do business with companies that offer self-
service – whether via the Internet, on a mobile device, at a kiosk or ATM. That’s an increase of 12%
from the percentage that gave the same response in the 2007 study.
• The self-service revolution is real. Consumers demand it and want more. 56% of respondents said the
likelihood of them using self-service has increased over the past year. Whether banking, shopping,
traveling or interacting with a healthcare provider, more consumers look for, and even expect, self-
service as an ‘essential convenience’ that improves their overall experience.
Photo Industry Reporter – Finisher’s Corner – Jan 22 Page 1
• 66% of the survey respondents said the availability of self-service technologies creates a more positive
perception of the deployer’s brand.
• Speed, followed by convenience and ease of use are the main reasons why respondents choose self-
service over personal assistance, although the preferences vary in different industry segments:
Banking Retail Travel Health
Faster 70% 68% 63% 53%
More Convenient 67% 64% 61% 50%
Easier 52% 52% 52% 47%
In recent years, corporations have shown an increasing willingness to deploy self-service devices - and
customers have shown a similar eagerness to use them.
What does this mean to Photo Industry Reporter readers? We need to open our eyes to the “wide world of
kiosks,” and recognize both the opportunities and the threats. Tony Burkardt has been attending the twice-
yearly KioskCom show (held alternatively in New York City and Las Vegas) for the past two years. Despite the
strong attendance by representatives from many different retailing fields, there have only been one or two
“photo” kiosk companies exhibiting.
Giant Food Stores offers its customers what most grocery stores do: food, household items, a deli, some
specialty items, and a pharmacy. What it lacked was an approach to unite the various departments in a way
that would make shopping easier for its customers, and less costly to provide for itself. Turning to self-service
and integration for a solution, Giant Food now has about 6 to 8 interactive multi-functional self-serve kiosk in
over 100 stores. Besides the traditional applications, you will find suggested wine selections with
recommended recipes, deli and bakery ordering, coupon printing, personalized gift cards, on-demand music,
movies, ringtones, product ingredients, product lookup and a product locator. Sadly, at least from our industry’s
viewpoint, you won’t find anything about photoprocessing services. Similarly, the company’s Website has most
of these same offers – and also is devoid of any photoprocessing information. This is just one example of how
retailers are aggressively pursuing interactive multifunctional self-serve kiosk installations to educate and
assist their customers, but photoprocessing is being ignored. However, if retailers begin to understand and
start adding comprehensive photoprocessing capabilities to these multi-functional kiosks, they could become
For the independent photo specialty retailers, this might seem like a remote possibility, based up the lack of
success among retailers. But when they ignore – is overlook a better term? – photo, it actually affects all of us.
Consumers who frequent these stores and rarely visit the knowledgeable photo retailers are not learning about
the various products that they could make from their photo memories. At a recent non-photo industry
conference at which he spoke, Don Franz asked the audience – about 75 people - how many were familiar
with photobooks. Only one person raised her hand, and she admitted that her husband was the one who had
made the one photobook she had, and he had a difficult time creating it – three years earlier. Our industry has
changed significantly over the past three years in the ease of producing personalized photo products at a
kiosk, but she was completely unaware of these improvements.
How can we, as an industry, leverage the expansive capability of our photo-imaging kiosks to improve our
sales and profitability? With the advanced technology of our kiosks and diversity of software at our fingertips,
what can we do to promote higher margin products and services? Are we really aware of all the products and
services we could be offering? Can we add services to our existing kiosks that will help drive our core
businesses by adding incremental sales from existing customers attracting new ones? Do we recognize that
our customers, who entrust us to create keepsakes from their treasured photo memories, also may have
business lives: needing personalized books (without photos), corporate presentations, catalogs, calendars,
brochures, framing – we’re all businesspeople, what do we use?
Photo Industry Reporter – Finisher’s Corner – Jan 22 Page 2
We asked Rick Glomb, VP Business Development at Lucidiom (www.lucidiom.com), how the industry could
increase its sales and improve its margins. “Our customers are looking for kiosk software and services that
simplify social expression for digital imaging consumers. That means having a complete, yet flexible kiosk
platform that’s adaptable in order to incorporate new products that come to market and yet suits each retailer’s
particular needs, including interfacing with their current equipment into account. Since local shelf and
inventory space, as well as capital and training for onsite production systems, are limited, the Internet-
connected kiosk opens upon an infinite virtual production capability, allowing retailers the opportunity for
suggestive selling and letting customers see and order a wide range of personalized photo products.”
Lucidiom gathers statistics from all of their kiosks, enabling them to track market trends. Despite the dismal
economic outlook, year-over-year same store sales in November 2008 showed orders for photobooks jumping
248%, calendar orders were up 181%, folded card orders rose 145% although traditional greeting card orders
fell slightly by 18% (attributed to the late Thanksgiving Day holiday). Previously reported year-over-year data
for the month of October showed that photobook orders increased 576%, calendar orders grew 373%, orders
for folded cards increased 460% and those traditional greeting cards rose 172%.
Today’s photo-imaging kiosk has become a dynamic marketing and sales tool for all photoprocessing retailers,
one which should be continually evaluated and upgraded to meet the changing needs of the market and the
retailer’s business. It also represents an important bridge to the online market, with both Web-based and PC-
residing software available to emulate the kiosk experience. This means that a photobook order file can be
started at home, transferred to a kiosk in your shop for suggestions and advice, if needed, or for collaborative
development with a friend. By having the same products online as in the store, customers who might otherwise
be wary of online ordering will find a familiar product line on the retailer’s Website once they venture online.
This product line “synchronization” also means streamlined production and assembly for the retailer.
Consumers have come to discover how easy and fun it is to order from the kiosk and having the same
experience available online empowers the retailer to vastly expand the sales opportunity.
The upcoming PMA tradeshow will give us all a chance to see the latest kiosk developments.
Photo Industry Reporter – Finisher’s Corner – Jan 22 Page 3
KIOSK Information Systems
Toll Free: (800) 509-5471
Photo Industry Reporter – Finisher’s Corner – Jan 22 Page 4