By David Dorf on Jul 09, 2009
As IHL analyst Lee Holman puts it, "most consumers have adapted to self-service as a way of life." Its the only way I checkout at Home Depot, and I see kiosks by ZoomSystems in all the major airports now. There are Red Boxes at most McDonald's allowing people to rent DVDs, and when's the last time someone pumped your gas for you (NJ residents excluded)?
According to Infinity Research, "the retail industry is the largest employer of self service kiosks; one third of all kiosks produced are implemented in the retail industries, which is also the fastest growing market for self service kiosks." RIS News reports that sales from kiosks will surpass $775 Billion in 2009.
The latest kiosk to hit the retail market is Best Buy's "game trade-in" kiosk. It accepts modern console games (PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox, and Xbox 360 titles) and provides store credit for the trade-in, assuming the disk passes its quality tests. Eventually you may be able to buy and rent games and movies from the kiosk as well. Alternatively, you can get an estimate of the value of your trade-in via Best Buy's website, then mail the game to Best Buy in exchange for a gift card.
There's a more in-depth review of the kiosk over at JoyStiq.
I find that self-service machines can't replace competent employees, but there are so few of those anyway; so I'm willing to trade the hit-or-miss customer service for the predictability of a machine.