Printing Kiosk Self-Service Technology in Retail

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Introduction
The implementation of Self-service technology is rapidly increasing among industries and affects the way customer interacts with firms to enhance service outcomes. This proliferation of SST has grown in many positive ways between consumers and businesses for example almost half of all retail banking transactions are now conducted without the assistance of a bank teller (Lawrence and Karr, 1996). In this assignment, the author will introduce self-service technologies in retailing and how it works for the digital print photo kiosk. There will be a discussion related to its pros, cons and characteristics; highlight of its role for retailers; identification of current trends in technology retailing. Interacting with Self-service technology (SST) is daily occurrence in our daily lives - when students are accessing their school account via personal lap tops, topping up the credits in the EZ-link cards for public transport or even going through online stores for Christmas shopping. Retailers can answer customer enquiries over the phone, sell items over the internet and even hotel’s automated room service ordering systems. SST is defined as technological interfaces that allow customers to perform entire services on their own, without direct assistance from employees. It eases the work load by having selected actions automated. This can be an online or offline system. Technological interfaces enable companies to delight their customers instantly by allowing them to solve their problems using technology (Bitner et al., 2002).

There is a proliferation of healthcare advice and information online (over 20,000 sites on the Web offer some level of health information and/or advice), and medical prescriptions can be ordered online as well. In the business-to-business realm, some companies have been very successful in shifting to a technology-driven ordering system combined with the capability of customers to track and manage their orders and inventories online for themselves. For example, over 25 percent of all of General Electric Company's resin sales are handled through its GEPolymerland Web site, and 95 percent of those online orders go directly into the information management system without human intervention.

There are four primary types of SST as described (Hsieh, 2005):

1. Telephone & interactive voice response (IVR) systems - Many companies employ this form of SST for customer orders, customer billing inquiries, and customer surveys. Banks, insurance companies, Credit card companies, pizza restaurants, companies also use IVR services to extend their business hours to 24/7 operations.

2. Interactive freestanding kiosks - Many malls and retail outlets offer these both inside and outside their stores as a way to assist you in determining availability of a product, as well as to where to locate it in their facility. Kiosk at airports and hotels that print airline tickets and allow for efficient checkout and also offers printing of receipts. The digital print photo kiosk which will be focused later belongs to this category.

3. Internet based or other on-line connection systems - ATM's and AXS machines are two widely used examples of on-line technologies used in Singapore. There are more than 750 AXS machines in Singapore and are used by consumers to pay bills and fines, access the latest on-line information, e-commerce, other payment services and telecommunications services. Package delivery services also allow you to track packages 24 hours a day now.

4. Video/DVD/CD based technologies - This form of SST is commonly used for educational purposes. Corporate organizations use this media to train their employees, to familiarize sales representatives with new products, and to introduce new products to consumers.

In the meantime, firms aim to fulfil at least one of the 3 primary goals when they decide to implement SST into their business. 1) Customer service - by using technology...
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