Summer 2007
Boost Your Capture Power

What determines the success of one kiosk and the failure of another? At Envirosell, we’ve researched that question in depth for some of the leading kiosk-based retailers in the US. Using a combination of direct shopper observation, customer-intercept interviews and video recordings, we’ve studied the key factors that influence kiosk shopper behavior and how kiosk retailers might alter their operations to boost sales.

The bottom line is that retailers who know how to take advantage of the roughly 550 people per hour passing their kiosk (based on average mall traffic on a weekend day) are those who will succeed and live on to multiply. Specifically, the kiosk retailer’s ability to stop passing traffic, or “capture power,” is crucial. Our research indicates that approximately 20 percent of all passing customers will notice a mall kiosk, or about 110 people per hour on an average weekend day. Roughly 15 percent of those who notice a kiosk will actually stop to shop—or about 16 customers per hour. Of the 15 percent who shop the kiosk, 25 percent will make a purchase, which translates into four purchasing customers per hour.

Our experience has shown that a small increase in the percentage of customers noticing a kiosk can lead to a healthy increase in the location’s bottom line. For example, if the percentage of passersby noticing a kiosk increased from 20 percent per hour to 30 percent per hour, then the number of purchasing customers would increase from four to six per hour.

Getting noticed

One of the best ways to increase the capture power of a kiosk is to emphasize how it looks from a distance. Mall customers walk at such a quick clip that it takes quite a bit to slow them down. Our research shows that it’s important that the customer be able to tell what a kiosk is selling from at least 40 feet away.

Considering the restrictions sometimes put on kiosk signage, getting noticed from a distance is often a challenge for the retailer. Kiosks that sell small items need to work on how the product itself can actually work as a sign. For example, a two-foot by two-foot blowup of a product’s packaging can work effectively to project from a distance what is being sold. When allowed by mall regulations, kiosk retailers should put up as large and strongly noticeable signage as possible. Getting a passing customer to notice and stop does not start at the kiosk itself—it starts 40 feet away, from both directions.

imageIt’s important to take a close look at the traffic flow on both sides of the kiosk, as well as the sightlines of the approaching customer. Not all mall traffic is the same. One side of the kiosk may receive much more passing traffic than the other. Product placement, and even employee placement, needs to be based on mall traffic flow and first-sight lines. If the first thing the customer sees when approaching the kiosk is the back of an employee sitting on a stool, then capture power will be “compromised.” If a customer does not notice or does not comprehend from a distance what product is being sold at the kiosk, the customer just won’t slow down or stop. The retailer can make all the fine adjustments to the product on the kiosk itself, but it won’t matter if potential customers don’t notice the kiosk in the first place.

Landing the sales

Of course, getting noticed from a distance is not the only factor that determines the success of a mall kiosk. Salesperson-assistance is key. Our studies have found that customer conversion rates at kiosks go from less than 10 percent to more than 40 percent when the customer is assisted by a salesperson.

Product-accessibility also makes a difference. If product is displayed on multiple levels (shelves of varying heights) the product is much more easily shopped and therefore more likely to be purchased.

The location of kiosks within the mall also matters. Some mall managers have started to measure the demographics (gender, age, etc.) of customers that visit each anchor store and have adjusted their kiosk locations accordingly, opting for kiosk clusters located near certain anchors instead of units spread throughout the mall concourse. Kiosks near Nordstrom sell different products than kiosks near Old Navy, for example.

In recent years kiosks have made some headway being accepted by their larger retail neighbors, the permanent in-line stores and anchors, and rightly so since kiosks actually help draw attention to their neighbors’ window displays. According to our research, window-shopping of stores adjacent to kiosk clusters is seven to nine percent higher than window-shopping at stores without nearby kiosks. In theory, in-line neighbors might consider nearby kiosks competitors for the shopper’s attention, but in reality kiosks serve as speed bumps, getting the mall shoppers to slow down and take a look at in-line and anchor window displays as well as the kiosk displays.

The future of kiosks is strong, and we hope our research helps you develop effective strategies for boosting your capture power and your bottom line. The growth of kiosk programs in malls will be steady and incremental, but the thinking behind kiosk design and placement is changing. Science and performance-accountability are quickly replacing opinion and guesswork.

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