Retail Industry Choosing Machine Over Man?

A story recently hit the internet that stated automation is causing retail jobs to disappear.

U.S analysts say robots, vending machines and touch screen kiosks are to blame for human job losses as they are increasingly replacing workers.

The Los Angeles Times reported that as shoppers become more accustomed to using self-service units, the loss of retail positions is hampering the nation’s high unemployment rate.

It is estimated one in 10 Americans work in the retail industry but companies are increasingly turning to technology and its benefits to sell more products, improve customer experience and use fewer employees.

In January 2011 there were 14.5 million U.S retail workers, down 1.1 million from three years ago.

Sectors that are taking advantage of touch screen technology include shipping and warehousing jobs that can process packages quicker, virtual assistants are replacing customer service representatives and kiosks are reducing the need for checkout clerks.

Experts say the trend is worrisome and that retail positions could soon disappear altogether.

Here at Protouch we believe it’s less about total human replacement and more a case of better placing staff and giving customers the convenience of being able to opt for a kiosk should they wish.

In many environments automation is no longer a “nice to have” but a necessity, particularly in places where speed is a must; automating the right services brings great benefits to both a business and its customers.

Having said that, no matter how tech-savvy humans become machines cannot deal completely with 100% of situations and therefore a careful balance of staff to kiosks is a must.

Student Competition Reveals Drug Dispensing Kiosk

If kiosk success was like a recipe, what would be the perfect ingredients?

A student competition to find new and exciting ideas for a sensational kiosk took place last month at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, United States.

The contest, dubbed Whiteboard Challenge by Coinstar, involved several teams that presented kiosk concepts to a panel of university professors and Coinstar executives.

The winning team DrugBox was crowned the victors as they were judged on the kiosk idea, business case and presentation.

Their drug-dispensing kiosk came top and won the $6,000 prize money. Runner up entrants was awarded $3,000 and $1,000.

Gregg Kaplan, president and chief operating officer of Coinstar, said: “We were delighted with the level of creativity and depth of thinking that the students brought forward.

“We believe there are countless untapped ideas in the automated retail space, and with anticipated self-service retail transactions expected to reach $1.6 trillion by 2013, we want to continue fostering new ideas.”

DrugBox, the winning kiosk initiative, was designed by David Schottland, Sheila Schottland, and Raphael Tse which involved a self-service kiosk that would be pre-stocked with non-vital, high-demand, prescription drugs.

Advantages to the unit included;

– Speed, convenience and discretion. Traditional long waiting lines at pharmacies will be a thing of the past as well as embarrassing situations with personal information.

– Help fill scripts and answer drug-interaction questions.

– Speed up the payment process with insurance providers and remind people to refill or pick up prescriptions.

– Substantial revenue opportunity as the US prescription drug market in 2009 was roughly $300 billion.

– Bettering patients would cut the overall cost of health care in the country.

Desired locations the kiosks could be deployed are said to be 24-hour convenience stores, petrol stations and office parks.

The challenge’s runner up ideas consisted of a kiosk that brings together buyers and sellers of used merchandise and an energy-drink kiosk.

Find new and exciting kiosk ideas at Protouch; Europe’s number one manufacturer and distributor of Touch screen technology.

How Are Coupon Kiosks Saving Consumers Money?

Present times are hard economically and consumers are constantly looking out for the best deals, discounts and ways of saving cash in their back pockets.

This means if they can spend less at one store they are more likely to change shops and go there; affecting their customer loyalty with their current brand.

It is because of these cost-cutting methods that it can prove hard for a company to hold down its customers and increase profits, therefore see a return on investment.

Ultimately, a kiosk can help to build your consumer loyalty and attract those with the potential to be best customers.

Particularly coupon dispensing units are key to save shoppers money as they offer vouchers to use in-store.

The success of these touch screens are exampled at Food Lion supermarkets, in America.

A shopper enters a store, scans their personal card at the kiosk and within seconds they receive a personalised coupon based on their household’s shopping history.

The token expires on the day they are issued, providing additional impulse to redeem.

The customers are expending more tokens than ever since the grocery chain deployed coupon-dispensing kiosks inside the stores across states.


The kiosks, part of the chain’s MVP Savings Center campaign which launched last year, have resulted in a much higher coupon redemption rate, up to five times, amongst consumers when compared to other traditional distribution channels.

David Palmer, Food Lion Director of Customer Relationship Management and Interactive Marketing, said: “In these difficult economic times, Food Lion is committed to providing our customers with the lowest prices on the best brands.”


Based on the positive outcomes, the firm are now expanding the service to other store locations and money-saving kiosks can also be found at other Food Lion stores operating under the names of Bloom and Harveys Hometown.