As retailers struggle to integrate their real-world operations with online initiatives, IBM has announced a new Web-enabled kiosk which will open the doors to multi-channel marketing.
The kiosk market is nothing new to Big Blue, which has been providing customised solutions to the likes of Ansett and Canadian retailer the Hudson Bay Company for many years. But it is the first time IBM has offered a standard solution to retailers in terms of price and functionality. The NetVista kiosk will allow consumers to buy catalogue items and Web-only products so retailers can use their Internet strategies in their bricks and mortar stores.
"A key trend for retailers lies in making it easier for their customers to get to them." IBM's marketing manager for retail store solutions, Jacqueline Thorley, explained. "With that in mind, we have to think about multi-channel retailing and the pervasiveness of computing."
Describing the kiosk market as an "embryonic", Thorley said its recent history has been punctuated by fragmented technology with typically one-of-a-kind solutions. But with the shift in the market towards the Internet, solutions need to be faster to market and more customised.
"IBM has been in retail systems for more than 25 years and we recognise that to support end-to-end solutions, you have to move towards the multi-channel business model. Smaller retailers need to be competitive so it has to be at a price point they can afford to implement."
Designed to handle the rough retail environment, the kiosks are aimed at the medium retail market. A range of peripherals such as printers and scanners are also available and businesses will be able to integrate their e-commerce strategies. IBM is also on the lookout for resellers to implement its retail solutions.
"There are so many applications available that we are always looking to work with good partners," Thorley said.