22nd January 2014 / Tom Pryor
While familiarity and reliance on consumer devices grows, so does the desire for more digital touch points in the areas where people work, shop, travel and socialise. This current trend has lead to some business owners choosing tablets and iPads as retail self-serve solutions, over the more traditional stand alone kiosks. However, as they are now finding, consumer devices do not necessarily thrive in commercial environments and companies may be doing themselves a disservice by deploying them. When taken into the commercial domain consumer devices have several limitations which we must consider.
It is becoming increasingly transparent that tablet devices aren't designed to meet commercial needs and, quite simply, stand alone kiosks have the upper advantage. Consumers choose tablet devices because they are small, lightweight and easy to navigate. All favourable factors when you're using the tablet whilst lounging at home, or as a portable device to perform menial tasks such as checking emails. However, tablet devices designed for commercial environments limit consumers considerably; for the reason that tablet devices are too small. The units that we install are 19″, which is approximately 4 times the screen size of an iPad or tablet. This means that when the units are mounted on a counter at a 45 degree angle, the user can easily read the text whilst standing.
The size of tablets limits usability in a commercial environment, whereas with a stand alone kiosk the screen real estate allows for more content to be displayed and for easier navigation for the user. Unlike tablets, stand alone kiosks also cater for important peripherals required in commercial sectors such as retail scanners, payment modules and printers.
Tablets are intended for personal use so durability is limited to few people operating the device, intermittently. After extended periods of use tablets can overheat, become unresponsive and often shut down. For this reason tablet devices are not robust enough to withstand the demands of 24/7 operation in the public domain. Commercial devices are built to industrial grade with this very purpose in mind and so are much more durable; designed to cope with intense, all-day, every day use.
Depending on the requirements, and when executed correctly, tablet kiosks can prove to be useful tools for enhancing the consumers experience. However, whilst it is tempting to chase the latest trends and keep acquisition costs to a minimum it is important to choose the right solution for your business. As we are now finding, retailers looking to showcase their extended stock in intuitive, easy-to-use ways require a kiosk solution which is more robust and built for purpose.