• United States
Contributing Writer

Self-service nation

Oct 23, 20032 mins
Enterprise Applications

* Self-service kiosks offer speed and convenience

“A kiosk, a kiosk. My kingdom for a kiosk.” – Richard III by William Shakespeare

“A kiosk, a kiosk. My kingdom for a kiosk.”

– Richard III by William Shakespeare

Okay, maybe that’s not what he said. But trust me, if that great play was written today, it would surely read like that.

E-commerce entrepreneurs everywhere are looking at the kiosk as the saving grace of their kind. From airline tickets to hotel reservations to digital prints, everyone’s jumping on the kiosk bandwagon.

Polaroid recently announced it would roll out a full-service photo kiosk to compete against Kodak and FujiFilm, according to the Associated Press. The company’s hoping to get people hooked on the idea of popping in their credit card and instantly developing their pictures – self-service-style.

Self-service, as I’ve written about before, is the name of the game these days in e-commerce. On a recent trip to London, I noticed that the British are quite accustomed to doing things themselves. The line for the automated subway ticket kiosk is longer than the one to get help from a live person.

Even the movie ticket kiosk idea is catching on – especially for new releases where folks don’t want to stand in line for tickets. Simply reserve your tickets online and then head to a kiosk when you get to the theatre to

pick them up. Users of this system are even willing to pay a fee to use the service.

I’ve also heard about CD-making kiosks that let you select songs for a customized disc. We’ve already talked about top retail chains that are using kiosk-like systems to let you do self-service checkout. And the U.S. Postal Service is tapping into ATM kiosks to let you buy stamps.

And there’s more of this coming down the road. Look for fast food restaurants to begin letting you key in your own order – no more having to repeat yourself several times over a horrible loudspeaker.

I envision, if this continues, that you’ll walk into a mall and the entire center aisle will be filled with kiosks from every vendor you can think of. There, you’ll see people roaming among them, popping their credit cards in

and out to receive goods and services.

Does this image thrill you or make you sick? Let me know at