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 strategy in their bricks and mortar stores.
"A key trend for retailers lies in making it easier for their customers to get to them," Jacqueline Thorley, IBM's marketing manager for retail store solutions, 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 industry", 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 25-plus 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."