Kiosk or Mobile App: Which is Right For You?

When you’re thinking about your custom software solution, sometimes it’s not clear whether a kiosk solution or a mobile app would be better. Since everyone carries a phone around in their pocket, why would you invest in kiosks? Well, here’s our take on how you can determine which is right for your solution.

Full Transcript Below:

Andrew:

Yeah, so self-services is even more of a… It’s a growing trend. It’s something that’s more part of businesses than ever.

Cris:

How would you go with a standalone kiosk as opposed to a smartphone if everyone has a phone?

Andrew:

You could have self-service kiosks like you go into McDonald’s. I can order all my food and I can check out and it’s almost like an express lane because…

Cris:

How are we handling payment with kiosks?

Andrew:

Right.

Cris:

I want to jump in the studio today and we can talk about the self-service industry and how that connects with what we do in technology. So let’s start. What is self-service? Let’s define that.

Andrew:

Yeah. So self-service is even more of a… It’s a growing trend, it’s something that’s more a part of businesses than ever. So self-service is really just when I can do a transaction without interacting with the person. So you could have self-service kiosks, like you go into McDonald’s. I can order all my food and I can check out. And it’s almost like an express lane, because I still have to go up to the person to get my food or maybe I don’t, maybe they just, they say number 34 is ready and you grab it.

Cris:

Or bring it to your table.

Andrew:

Or bring it to your table. Right.

Cris:

A drive through window.

Andrew:

Yeah, exactly. Or there’s self-service in terms of mobile, which I think people are even more familiar with. Right.

Cris:

Right.

Andrew:

A good example would be the Amazon app. Right. Like I can shop at my own convenience whenever I want, from my bed. And it just shows up.

Cris:

Walmart pickup, Uber Eats.

Andrew:

Uber, yeah. Door Dash, all those things.

Cris:

All those kind of… Postmates. Don’t want to miss any of them.

Andrew:

Yeah, we’re probably dating ourselves by listing these.

Cris:

Probably, but that’s fine. It’s okay. They’re probably worth a bajillion dollars now as someone’s watching this 25 years in the future so… Or they don’t exist and no one knows.

Cris:

There’s obviously kiosks that people are familiar with. I think for most of the public, I would say, and for me too, that Redbox was the one for me and it’s like, I really start to think of kiosks.

Andrew:

Right.

Cris:

These units they’re in this place.

Andrew:

I don’t got to go to Blockbuster.

Cris:

I don’t have to go to Blockbuster anymore or Valley Video or whatever your local place is. I go up here, I hit some touch screen and it’s in a particular location and then I get my service handled and I leave. Where obviously now, and we’ve been in an age for very long where everyone’s got a smartphone in their pocket. So why would you go with a standalone kiosk as opposed to a smartphone if everyone has a phone? Is there a reason why one makes more sense than the other for a particular application?

Andrew:

I mean, absolutely they solve different aspects of the self-service problem. You know, a common question we’ll get is, “well, everybody’s got a smartphone, pretty much everybody. Why wouldn’t you just do that?” Well, smartphones make a lot of sense to do different self-servicing again, the Amazon example, being able to shop from the convenience of my phone, from my home, with my phone, it makes a lot of sense. But for example, the Redbox example you gave there, well, you have to go physically get the disc. At least at the time when Redboxes were really super popular.

Andrew:

So kiosks are more about if you’re going to go into a physical Brick and Mortar store and you want to have more of an express lane type experience or maybe you want to do… They call them endless aisle kiosks where you can get all sorts of information about products. Maybe you don’t want to walk up to the person at Home Depot and explain that you don’t know about different kinds of paint. You just want to kind of go through and research it and you might have a kiosk there that’s made by the paint manufacturer that explains the different kinds of things lets you print out different color swatches or whatever it might be.

Andrew:

So kiosks are really meant to be like a physical in person thing and they have different pros and cons of each too. But yeah, kiosks also have a very, they have a physical presence about them. You know, you walk into the store, you see the Copy Your Own Key Kiosk when you’re walking out of the grocery store or walking into whatever and they’re eyecatching. So it also kind of acts like a sign that will draw people in.

Cris:

Interesting. So it almost has its own kind of marketing prowess along with the fact that it’s also providing a service.

Andrew:

Yeah. It’s actually… Part of the downside to kiosks is they take up space.

Andrew:

But part of the upside is they take up space and they’re eye catching and you’ll even see kiosks that will have secondary signs on them, digital signs to make them even more eye catching.

Cris:

Well, then you also run into the scenario, I’m thinking of it that you might not actually have a smartphone. We say, “everyone has a smartphone,” but you might not actually have a smartphone or you don’t want to download the app because you’re like, “I don’t want the whatever app on my phone.”

Andrew:

Do you want to create an account?

Cris:

Right. Do you want to create an account? So on and so forth. So again, I think that’s kind of some of the pros and the cons of kiosks versus phones. So let’s talk about those a little bit more. Obviously downloading an app, if you don’t want it, that’s going to be a con, having to maybe potentially create an account can be a con. And so with a kiosk, that’s a plus for them because a lot of these, you just go up and it’s kind of point and click, and done.

Andrew:

Right. I think people have more privacy concerns with mobile apps. You know, “it’s on my phone, my pictures are on here, what’s it going to do? What can it see?”

Cris:

Gotcha.

Andrew:

The account creation thing.

Cris:

Is this app talking to that app? And so forth.

Andrew:

Right. Yeah. There’s that just sort of distrust for what is Google going to or Apple or whoever going to do with this information. But a big pro to it is it’s very portable and you generally have it with you. But there is friction to getting people to actually install apps. So it depends on the use case. And then kiosks are, you remove a lot of that friction because it’s just physically in front of you and I mean, when’s the last time you went into a kiosk and had to create an account? I mean, maybe for Redbox having to enter your credit card and stuff to sort of tie it to that. But one of my first interactions that I remember with kiosks short of the airport, which was sort of a frustrating experience you could guess.

Andrew:

But one of my first positive experiences I remember with kiosk was just this kind of express lane concept at movie theaters. I was used to, as a teenager waiting in this line and then I got there right when the movie was supposed to start, I’m waiting in this line where all the other people in front of me are trying to decide what they want to see and what movies sold out. And then they have to talk with their friend about what’s the next movie they want to see. But then there was a kiosk over there with three people in line and I could just go up there and pay and it acts as an express lane. It wasn’t even really that I didn’t want to interact with a person, it just was a faster way to do business on my own terms. And then I could just take that ticket and then walk in. So kiosks are really great for express lane type functionality. And then just to get into payments a bit.

Cris:

Yeah. I was going to say, how do you take payments? I mean, we’re familiar obviously with payments on an app, it’s like you’re entering a credit card or you’re tying to do your Apple Pay, your Google Pay or something, but it’s all kind of digital based. How are we handling payment with kiosks?

Andrew:

Right. Well, mobile apps are really strong at payments, right? In a lot of cases your payment information’s already stowed on your phone.

Cris:

Except for cash.

Andrew:

Right, yeah. No, it’s really great on credit card payments, That is it’s strong suit. It can be very fast to pay. You can check out at restaurants by scanning a QR code and selecting Apple pay that kind of stuff. Where they don’t excel with payments is when you start to get into cash payments. So of course you’re not going to insert dollar bills onto your phone or something. So kiosks can have mechanisms for doing that.

Andrew:

So kiosks are really the way to go if there’s any sort of cash payment aspect or there’s lots of peripherals that need to be attached. Like you’d say, “well, my mobile phone has a webcam.” Yeah. Great. But does it have a QR code scanner? Well, “yeah, I mean through the webcam.” Okay. Well, can it do fingerprints? Well, some can.

Cris:

Some can.

Andrew:

And the more, well, does it have a receipt printer? Well, the further you go down this rabbit hole at some point there’s like, well, we can’t physically attach those peripherals to a phone or there’s just the complexity of different people have different phones with different capabilities.

Cris:

Yeah.

Andrew:

And with a kiosk, you have this very controlled environment. You know people are going to interact with this machine right here. I don’t know whether you’re running iOS 14 or 15, or whether you’re running an iPhone 7 or an iPhone 12 or one of the bazillions of different Android variations. So it just removes a lot of variables from it, which is nice from a technical standpoint.

Cris:

Gotcha. So I think bringing it all back around is… We’ve talked a lot obviously about mobile apps and the kiosks. So if someone’s looking to get into some sort of self-service for their company, all of these factors that we’ve talked about, need to come into play when you’re deciding, do I build a physical kiosk or do I build an app and know that you’re going to deal with some upsides and some downsides. Does that seem like a pretty accurate assessment?

Andrew:

Absolutely. And I mean, that’s the kind of process that we go through during the whole road mapping process. So we’ll have a customer come to us and say, “hey, I want to build a mobile app for this, or I want a kiosk for this.” And then we’ll start asking them questions about how it’s going to be used. And then there are scenarios where we’ll tell them, “you know-“

Cris:

You know…

Andrew:

“This might make more sense for you having a mobile app” or, “this might make more sense with a kiosk, here’s the pros and cons of it. And let’s see what makes the most sense to solve that unique problem that you have.”

Cris:

Gotcha. So kiosks, that’s something that obviously we can do here because we’re pushing people in that direction.

Andrew:

When?

Cris:

We have partnerships with hardware manufacturers and the whole deal. So I mean, if someone is looking to build a kiosk, we can do it.

Andrew:

Definitely.

Cris:

Yeah. That’s cool. Any other closing thoughts thing on this that might be worthwhile for someone watching the video?

Andrew:

One downside of kiosk that I didn’t really get into is they’re expensive. You have to buy the physical hardware, the physical enclosures, with mobile it’s essentially people are bringing their own hardware to the equation. So it ends up being a very software type solution. So with kiosks, you’ve got a computer, you’ve got a physical enclosure that’s going to be built out of steel and sturdy, or there’s more cost effective solutions where you’ve got tablets that are inside enclosures and things like that. So that’s one drawback-

Cris:

You go all the way down the hardware road of how do you want to do that. One last thing that I would love to touch on though, is the price point for if you do go down the kiosk route and you know what you’re going to cost your hardware, what is your software going to cost? What’s kind of a good rule of thumb of this percentage of software costs as compared to hardware costs?

Andrew:

Yeah. I mean-

Cris:

Rough ballparks.

Andrew:

Right. The software in many cases, assuming you’re talking about one kiosks right?

Cris:

Sure.

Andrew:

The software’s probably going to be about a 10 X factor to the hardware.

Cris:

Okay.

Andrew:

Now if you’re deploying a hundred kiosks, the hardware could easily eclipse that. But yeah. So as a general rule of thumb when I’m having a conversation with someone about do I want to build a self-service kiosk to take payments or whatever. One of the early questions I’ll ask them is, “okay, well, how many kiosks are you going to deploy?” And if they come back to me and say like, “oh, well we’re going to deploy one, or two, or three.” It’s really important to calculate the ROI of this whole solution because it’s difficult when you have that few kiosks to be bringing in enough business for enough transactions to be going through them. So kiosks make more and more sense at scale.

Cris:

Gotcha. Very cool. Well, I think we covered a lot of ground. I appreciate this. I hope some people are able to get clarity out of this and ultimately they want to build an application for self-service, we can do that.

Andrew:

Definitely

Alexandra:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday. I hope you really enjoyed that episode and just getting a lot of insight on the difference between having a self-service application that resides on someone’s phone versus installing it in a self-service kiosk. And some of those things that you really need to think about for what that application might look like and the needs and serving your customers in the most effective way.

Alexandra:

If you have any questions about anything that Andrew and Cris talked about today, go ahead and leave those in the comment section down below. And don’t forget to check out the description box down below. We have a ton of really help full links for you guys, including a link to our free custom software guide that just kind of gives you some tips and tricks and walks you through the process of planning out your own app idea.

Alexandra:

Now, if you feel like you’re ready to get started on maybe developing that app, or even just seeing if Bixly might be the right fit for you, check out our website Bixly.com right at the top homepage, there’s a button that says get my roadmap. And what that allows you to do is actually set up a free 60 minute meeting and consultation with Cris himself. He’ll give you all of his insight and feedback on your app idea. Maybe even some estimates and just seeing if we’re the right fit for you. Until next time, this has been an episode of Bixly Tech Tuesday.