In-store web access In an effort to draw customer focus to the store as the primary means of merchandise distribution, some retailers are turning to in-store Internet-connected kiosks to engage customers, provide convenience, and increase shopping satisfaction.
A digital misstep Best Buy was one of the pioneers of the customer-oriented Internet workstation in the early 2000's when it installed computers in its stores to facilitate online product research. Unfortunately the company advertised lower prices on its web site compared to the higher prices on its in-store kiosk, suggesting that the bargains were no longer available.
As a result of lawsuits filed in Connecticut and California, Best Buy management "fixed" the problem by adding a banner to each page on the in-store web site indicating that the prices shown were in-store, and did not reflect the pricing of BestBuy.com.
JC Penney fine-tunes the Internet kiosk This year JC Penney announced that its Findmore 42-inch interactive touch-screen station will be expanded to 120 stores across the United States. Designed to provide product information for customers and sales associates, the sleek, customer-engaging fixture links shoppers to jcp.com's 250,000 online products.
The new technology is not really a traditional "kiosk", but more like a plasma-screen television monitor, in portrait ratherthan landscape position. Shoppers can not only view Penney's vast assortment of merchandise, but can also locate colors, styles and items not available or out of stock in the store. Interactive, media-rich editorial content, highlights key seasonal women's trends. The Findmore fixture incorporates social-media-like features such as permitting shoppers to add items to an online "dressing room" and e-mail their choices to themselves or friends.
Perhaps the most compelling feature of the technology is to ability finalize the sale. Customers can purchase online items from the Findmore fixture and have them shipped to their home or shipped for free to the store for later pickup. Payment can be done by printing out a receipt and purchasing an online item at an in-store register, with other purchases.
Will the kiosk Internet station thrive? JC Penny management believes that the Findmore system is a solid retail strategy for the future. "Offering an in-store digital experience that drives additional sales is a true differentiator for JC Penney, and continues to build on our leadership in the digital space as we merge our online and in-store shopping experiences," says Tom Nealon, group executive vice president.