Top Self-Service Technologies

Self-service technologies, smartphone apps, kiosks, online reservations — these are among the technologies revolutionizing experiences in retail, dining, healthcare, and a growing number of industries.

Customers are more empowered than ever before to shape their experiences with businesses and to demand smooth, convenient processes. Similarly, businesses are enjoying growing revenue and decreased staffing costs. Self-service is making all of these beneficial changes possible.

What is Self-Service Technology?

Top Self Service Technologies in Retail and Hospitality

Ordering stations can be both large kiosks or small kiosks embedded right at the table. In fast food settings, ordering stations reduce wait times, shrink lines, and reduce errors in the ordering process. They have been so successful that McDonald’s has replaced their cashiers with self-service kiosks in their locations across the US.

A few hotels are beginning to use self-service kiosks or simple chat features on their websites in order to automate the check-in and check-out process — another opportunity to reduce or eliminate lines and customer wait time.

You have probably checked into your flight online beforehand. Self-service kiosks at the airport extend that idea, empowering travelers to check in for their flights, print boarding passes, and check their luggage without waiting in line for an agent to help them. We are all familiar with impatience and anxiety at the airport, and this self-service technology helps reduce staffing needs while streamlining a stressful process for customers.

In spaces where customers might need maps, explanations, or tours, information kiosks are extremely helpful. Think of museums or sprawling shopping malls. These are environments where an interactive map really comes in handy or where an on-demand explanation of an art exhibit might enrich the customer experience. Giving more control to visitors in these spaces improves the overall experience and the likeliness that clients will return.

There’s nothing new about the self-checkout aisles at grocery stores, but the technology is getting more sophisticated. Spurred on by innovations that Amazon implemented in brick-and-mortar stores, some grocery chains, like Kroger, are implementing handheld self-service devices that help customers shop even more efficiently.

Kroger’s system, for example, lets customers scan items as they pick them up, placing them directly into shopping bags in their carts, and paying at the end. This empowers customers to bag and organize their groceries however they’d like and avoid lines all while helping reduce the number of cashiers the business needs to bag groceries and operate checkout aisles.

Ticketing kiosks are ubiquitous these days. In movie theatres, they allow customers to see a whole spread of information like loyalty program benefits, showtimes, and seat availability. In the concert business, they offer similar services and lower fees than online ticket vendors offer. Ticketing kiosks have proven themselves a powerful way to make businesses more profitable, loyalty programs easier to sign up for, and customers happier with the efficiency of the transactions.

Appointment Booking

What Makes a Good Self-Service Tool?

Omnichannel Capabilities

The term omnichannel refers to a sales approach that streamlines a customer’s ecommerce shopping experience, whether they are on a mobile device, a computer, or in the actual store. Using your phone or computer to pay for a product, find a coupon, activate a rewards program, price shop, or research a product is the new norm, and omnichannel products take advantage of that reality:

Ombori Grid, for example, integrates to make a company’s website and other rich marketing media content available to customers and staff on interactive touch-screens within the store.

Designed in partnership with VisualArt in Stockholm, and first integrated into 3 stores, Web2Touch “enables customers to browse online information while in-store and use the auto-generated QR code to do a hand-off to get browsed content into their mobile device.

Since the Web2Touch kiosks are online, this facilitates the immediate dissemination of product updates, new deals, or other time-sensitive information across all 60 stores simultaneously.”

“Web2Touch is a deceptively simple tool that solves an important problem of combining the digital and physical retail environments. We’ve seen that today’s customers like using touch screens, so this gives them all the power of the net combined with the personal aspect of being in a store.”

Ensure Software is Multilingual

Ombori Grid solutions are focused on offering multilingual capabilities, making them an optimal selection for retail and hospitality companies. The Ombori Store Assistance , which expands the Endless Aisle with Guided Selling and a Voice Interface to inspire customers and help them make informed shopping decisions, functions in multiple languages, including English, German, Spanish, and Chinese.

The Self-Service Technology Should Improve the Customer Experience

Benefits of Self-Service Technologies for Businesses

For the Business

Additionally, self-service technology helps build automatic opportunities to market products. Lastly, the best reservation software houses multiple features, helping businesses consolidate into one system for reservations, ordering, payment, and email contact.

For the Customer

At the end of the day, the customer experience is the most important. Without a positive customer experience, businesses risk losing return customers, which can hurt their bottom line. Self-service technologies give customers more control, reduce wait times, and add convenience. In restaurants, ordering kiosks mean more accurate orders, and in grocery stores, good self-service technology means reduced wait times. A strong online reservation system helps accommodate the busy customer hoping to make an appointment after closing time. The modern customer expects both control and convenience — luxuries that self-service tech offers.

Looking Ahead

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Father, husband, coder and entrepreneur. Founder of @omborigroup