Guided Selling

By Evan Schuman  |  Posted 2004-11-03 Print this article Print

Kommineni pointed to the almost tripling of the new devices deployment—from 12,444 units in last years fourth quarter to 36,168 units in the same quarter this year—as proof of a major trend. "To have 36,168 is not a low number at all," she said. "Remember that this market is in its infancy. Some 70 percent of unit market share is being held by products that were only introduced in 2003 and 2004." The Frost & Sullivan report projects a steady—although less-dramatic—growth curve for the foreseeable future, with about 44,000 units projected for next year, about 53,000 units for 2006 and Frost & Sullivan projects seeing about a quarter-million units by 2011. How is Casual Male preparing for holiday shoppers? To find out, click here.
Guided selling is potentially the most interesting application growth area for these small, portable units. This starts with a customer asking about, lets say, a printer cartridge. The kiosk would ask questions about the type of printer being used and would respond with a list of appropriate cartridges.
Given that the kiosks are on the LAN (and have relatively little hard-disk capacity), the next step would be to allow that list to indicate which items are in-stock and what nearby stores in the chain might have it. It might ultimately be able to communicate with—or actually to be—a shopping-cart-based mini-kiosk, which could then use a navigational system to bring the customer right to the item. If a large quantity were needed, the kiosk could potentially message workers in the warehouse to send over five cases. Best Buy is widely regarded as a multichannel leader, but has anyone told its employees? To find the answer, click here. Today, though, Kommineni said she sees PoD kiosks as being in a stage of very early adoption—and perhaps even early experimentation. Kiosk vendors "need to convince the IT folks: Look, this product wont interfere with your plans. The software is all ready and theres not much tinkering around needed," Kommineni said. But far removed from yesteryears dumb terminals, the new PoD kiosks also are designed to be easy to customize. "The building blocks are right there, should the retailer need a more complicated application," Kommineni said. Maybe its time to rewrite other holiday classics. Perhaps "Rudolph, with your touchscreen so bright, wont you scan my Samsonite®?" Maybe not. Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman has tracked high-tech issues since 1987, has been opinionated long before that and doesnt plan to stop any time soon. He can be reached at To read earlier retail technology opinion columns from Evan Schuman, please click here. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.

Evan Schuman is the editor of's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at

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