Self-service projects that were suspended during the pandemic have returned to normal, and increased demand for self-care is expected to continue after the pandemic.
Economic uncertainty still worries decision-makers in U.S. business, but it’s hard to recall such an exciting time as the current one for the self-service kiosk industry.
Projects suspended in 2020 have returned to life in the second half of 2021, and industry leaders are in high spirits going into 2022. A random Kiosk Marketplace poll among decision-makers found unanimous optimism driven by growing customer demand for self-service.
“I think 2022 will be a good year for self-service and automated retail,” said Teddy Sanchez, co-founder and CTO of Optimal Station, a maker of universal communications stations that specializes in the food and marketing sectors. said in a telephone interview. “We started calling a lot more.”
His sentiments were representative of almost all executives surveyed.
Projects are back on track
“A lot of projects are back on the table, even in the areas most affected by the pandemic, and I think it’s fair to say that corporate spending has increased. It’s affecting the whole economy,” said Jeff Blankensop, the region’s senior director. Inferior-ABwhich designs and manufactures digital menu boards, displays and open-rated TVs, as well as dvLED video wall systems and display mounts.
“The QSR restaurant segment continues to grow with digital outdoor menu boards, self-service kiosks, pickup technology and the like,” Blankensop said.
“We believe that transportation will become a big and big space with the Federal Government’s Build Back Better initiative,” he said. “There will be a lot of dollars going to transport infrastructure.”
Even the hospitality that has suffered the most from the pandemic is recovering.
The company adopted a small price increase in response to rising steel and freight costs. Overall, Blankensop is optimistic about 2022. Of greatest concern is the rising cost of materials.
Last February, “demand only began to grow rapidly,” agreed John Pszybilinski, general manager of TSItouch Inc., a manufacturer of touch screens that serves interactive kiosks and other industries. “Projects that were suspended due to COVID are back on the radar. Everything started to move forward. “
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has helped the situation by saying it is very unlikely to catch COVID-19 by touching surfaces, he said.
The retail sector is recovering
Much of the optimism has been based on the current strengths of the retail sector.
Retail sales during the November-December 2021 holiday season jumped 14.1% year-on-year to $ 886.7 billion, beating the National Retail Federation’s forecast and setting a new record despite inflation challenges. supply chain disruptions and a prolonged pandemic. These figures do not include car dealers, petrol stations and restaurants with a focus on basic retail.
This is compared to the growth of holiday sales by an average of 4.4% over the previous five years.
“While in the catering industry, we’ve mostly seen self-ordering, this year the trend will extend to other retail chains, such as wholesale chains,” said Mauricio Chacon, product manager for Epson America Inc.’s business systems group.
“Self-ordering provides a more sophisticated and streamlined way to choose goods for customers – instead of writing what they want and waiting for the goods to be delivered to them after payment, self-order kiosks or desktop systems allow customers to choose their goods, pay immediately and goods can be processed and ready and wait for them at the pickup, ”he said.
Restaurants in a circle
As for restaurants not included in the NRF issue, Restaurant 2.0 is finally taking off, ”said Hope Neumann, Tillster’s director of marketing, a provider of digital solutions for ordering and interacting for restaurants. “I don’t know how much better he (2022) can be than he already was.”
Restaurants understand that all contact platforms, including loyalty programs, need to integrate seamlessly, and the need to keep Tillster busier than ever, Neumann said.
Growth in 2021 was not as much in the number of customers as in existing catering customers who are fine-tuning their menu, said Sanchez of Optimal Station.
“They (restaurants) really needed it this year to fasten the model,” he said, echoing Neumann Tilster.
“We’re already booking multimillion-dollar deals for 2022,” said Chuck Lewis, vice president of Palmer Digital Group, a kiosk maker where QSR was the main driver in 2021, one contract for 2022. for a retailer, one for an EV charging station and one for a Canadian customer who must meet strict disability standards.
The company also installed its first cannabis stalls in 2021.
New customer verticals are emerging
Lewis was not the only one who noticed that new customer verticals were emerging.
Business began to recover in the third quarter of 2021 for MicroTouch, a maker of touch solutions, said Tyler Wells, sales manager through sales channels. Particularly strong were cannabis dispensaries and small supermarkets, as well as road search services, medical and ambulance services.
“A lot of the fundamentals for self-care growth,” Wells said. The only limiting factor is getting the product due to supply chain problems.
As cinemas open for business, TouchMate Inc. The U.S., a maker of POS technology, has more orders than it can easily handle, said Ben Williams, president and CEO. The company has doubled its business every year for the past four years, and stimulating funding in 2021 has allowed this pace to continue. The company has expanded into kiosks for cannabis dispensaries and weapons stores that are expanding rapidly.
“They’re learning it’s just a great way to improve their service,” Williams told gun stores. By using self-service kiosks, “They can simultaneously help a much larger number of customers in their store”.
Everything has risen in price, Williams said, noting that the cost of computers used by the company has risen by almost 20% and the cost of sheet steel for company cabinets has risen by 48% since January last year.
Like most manufacturers surveyed, Williams selectively incurs higher costs to customers.
Qwick Media, a Canadian provider of interactive hardware and software, was experiencing difficulties after the pandemic forced many tourism customers and malls to close stores, said Ross Tocher, the company’s president. Tocher used the pandemic downtime to focus on developing his software to find paths and directories and be ready when economic activity returns.
It didn’t take long. The company has contracted with the Canadian government to install kiosks with interactive software to manage content in rural post offices, providing residents with access to government services, banking and community information.
Universal payment is required
Non-cash has expanded, but orders for banknotes and payment devices that accept all types of payments, as well as thermal printers continue to work Pyramid Technologies Inc., according to Doraiswami Shridhar, a sales manager who expects 2022 to be a “great year”. The company’s sales were at least 10% higher in 2021 than in 2020.
Demand for payment devices is particularly strong in the gaming sector, Schridhar said, but also in other retail sectors such as drugstores, gas stations and car dealerships.
Last year was the best year for CRS, a distributor of POS equipment, said James Sanders, vice president of marketing for CRS. Most places for end users are hospitality and retail.
“We will start moving more in self-care solutions,” he said. “We work with companies that develop software for integration.”
Sanders echoed Schridhar of Pyramid Technologies when he observed that demand for cash register equipment remained high, especially in stores.
Projects also began to move forward in the second half of 2021 Ventus Wireless LLCDigi and a provider of managed wireless services, said Bill Stutzman, who is optimistic about 2022. The company focuses more on kiosks, games, BTM, ATMs and ITM.
The Omicron option caused some concern in the fourth quarter.
“We will just continue to communicate closely with our customers.” Said Stutzman.
The most encouraging news is that self-sufficiency is expected to continue after the pandemic.
More than a third of shoppers (34.1%) said they expect a significant increase in the use of stand-alone kiosks next year, and 18.7% expect a slight increase, according to a 2021 customer survey from Raydiant Inc., a service provider. solutions for on-site experiences.
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