How Self-Service Kiosks are Changing Customer Behavior

kiosks
Self-service kiosks can be programmed to offer upgrade opportunities and smart pairing choices with every transaction.

The retail universe is starting to resemble a science fiction movie; as technology evolves at a feverish pace, the presence of everything from delivery drones leaving warehouses to customer location beacons on the retail floor is changing what it means to sell products to consumers. But it’s self-service kiosks that are proliferating the fastest – and having the most tangible effect on the customer experience.

For sure, there’s an argument to be made for deploying self service kiosksin retail. As we’ve said before, there are real benefits for businesses to adopt customer kiosks. But perhaps somewhat less obvious is the fact that the mere presence of these technologies is changing consumer behavior as well. Data shows that your customers will embrace self-serve terminals and change up the traditional dynamic you have with them.

Spending More At Checkout

Perhaps the most important change, for example, is that customers spend more money when they can place their own orders. At least one large retail chain, for example, has found that customers spend 20 percent more at the checkout when they have an opportunity to self-serve.

There are a number of reasons why this is the case.  When placing food orders, for example, it’s simply easier for a customer to customize an order – adding extra ingredients, toppings, and sides – when they can tap a screen rather than explaining the details to a harried (though perhaps pleasant) server.  Taco Bell, for example, has seen exactly this behavior, with customers at their kiosk ordering systems adding custom ingredients significantly more frequently than when in line for human cashiers. And these extras, of course, goose the bottom line of the customer’s bill.

Less Fear of Social Judgement

But that’s not all. There’s also no fear of social judgement. Do you want double beef or an extra-large soft drink? Customers who might be disinclined to initiate their own upsell like higher calorie ingredients or adding a desert because they’re self-conscious about the details of the order can do it in privacy when interacting with a touch screen.

And speaking of upsells, self-service systems can be programmed to offer upgrade opportunities and smart pairing choices with every order; even the most diligent servers can’t be expected do to that with every customer.

Breaking Out of Their Comfort Zone

And that’s not all. We’ve even seen that customers behave more boldly with self-service systems. Specifically, people are more willing to order products with foreign or difficult-to-pronounce names, breaking out of their comfort zones and trying products that they ordinarily would avoid. Why? Once again, there’s no social stigma – and this time it’s the fact that customers don’t suffer embarrassment by trying to order products they can’t pronounce, but rather simply get to select it from a touch screen. Indeed, one university study found that customer selection of these kinds of products increased by over 8 percent when dealing with electronic self-service systems.

The bottom line is that self-service kiosks are liberating technology for customers, enabling them to order more and more diverse products without feeling constrained by human servers and cashiers. And that’s a benefit that doesn’t just accommodate customers, but pays dividends for businesses as well.

Find out how an IoT platform like Canopy can provide help with your self-service kiosk network in addition to other features such as digital signage and unattended device management.

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Man and woman at the cash register.

Retail Analytics: A Beginner’s Guide

Man and woman at the cash register.
Modern point of sale terminals can capture a lot of valuable information that’s incredibly valuable to you.

Can you predict your customers’ behavior? If you can, congratulations. That helps you better anticipate their needs and serve them better – which is good both for you, the retailer, and the people visiting your store. If you can’t do that, though, you’re leaving money on the table. You really should know things like why they’re entering your store, where they go when they get there, what they put in their cart, and how to retain them so they’ll come back again. This is the science of retail analytics, and it’s something you should know something about.

So what is retail analytics? Well, analytics is just a formal term for systematically analyzing data. In the case of retail analytics, that data is coming from your customers – what they’re buying, when, and how it’s affected by factors like sales and promotions, advertising, inventory, and more. In fact, studies show that most retailers actually capture some sort of data – as much as three quarters of retailers gather insights about their shoppers. Unfortunately, it’s the follow-through that’s the problem; the vast majority of small retailers don’t do much with the data they collect.

Properly interpreting that data is important. Retail analytics can help inform you about all sorts of important business decisions, including managing your inventory (what items should you sell, and how should it be priced), marketing – where do you put your marketing dollars, and what should you say to your customers – and much more. Certain kinds of analytics can even help you optimize the layout of your store to bring foot traffic where it’ll have the most impact.

Ready to dive in? To get actionable models and profiles of your customers, you’ll need to invest in retail analytics software – generally, a service that takes raw data, processes it, and delivers usable information. Depending on the data you want to input, you might be able to get started with the point of sale terminal you already have. Analytics software can also assess the efficacy of communication you have with customers, such as email newsletters. And if you install specialized sensors in your store, you can even get information to help plan the physical layout and inventory placement. Here are some of the most common categories of retail analytics you should consider.

Point of sale data. As already mentioned, modern point of sale terminals can capture a lot of valuable information that’s incredibly valuable to you – it can reveal profit margins, sales trends, and shopper demographics. This kind of data can tell you what to products are driving your revenue so you can manage stock and inventory, plan the layout of your store, and more. POS data can also help you infer timing data; for example, you can chart sales in such a way that you can find the best days and hours for sales to set store hours and staffing.

Marketing data. Do you have any sort of email distribution? Many retailers stay in touch with customers through email, such as digital circulars, weekly newsletters, and sales flyers. Almost any email marketing package should be able to help you track and interpret basic data like open rates (how many people are reading your email), CTR (click-through rate -- which links are being opened), and even heat maps (which parts of the email are customers focusing on and which are they ignoring). This can help you fine-tune your offers and deliver more effective promotions to help get customers to order online or make the trip into the store.

SKU interaction data. With the right sensors and analytics, you can see things that are typically “invisible” to the POS terminal. For example, what products do customers physically handle, whether or not they purchased? How long did they dwell with a particular package? Did they return it to he shelf and choose something else instead?

Footfall data. Finally, how well do you understand the foot traffic in your store? If you only know they enter, look, buy, and leave, you should look to various kinds of beacon technology to better monitor your customers. There are active beacons that can track the comings and goings of visitors, as well as more passive tech like wi-fi that can geo-locate people and monitors their comings and goings. With the right tools, you can find out how long people spend in your store (also know as dwell time), how that time varies by day, week, and time of year, which parts of your store get the most attention, and more.

Find out how an IoT platform like Canopy can provide help with retail analytics in addition to other features such as digital signage and unattended device management.

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Updates to Operations pages, KPI panels and more

We’ve released a new version of Canopy and there are lots of improvements to the design, making it easier to reach certain items and view more KPI panels at a glance.

Here are the highlights of the newest version of Canopy:

A new and improved Operations page. When you log into Canopy and visit the Operations page, you will be greeted by a new and improved layout. We have tried to make it easier to read at a glance and make it easier to understand what the various numbers on the screen measure or indicate.

Updates to KPI panels. The KPI panels at the top of the operations page have been redesigned and enlarged. Users can also have more than six KPI panels at the top. Look for the ‘More KPIs’ text link on the right side of the Summary panel towards the top of the Operations page.

KPI panels can be added or removed by visiting the KPI settings, which are still in the same place as before (click on the gear icon on the left above the Summary panel on the Operations page).

Suspending a KPI is easier. Let’s say there’s one item in a row in the list of Devices on the Operations page that you don’t want included in the summary KPI panel at the top of the Operations page. With the new version of Canopy, you only need to hover over the column containing the item in that row and look for the three dots that will appear in the lower right quadrant. Click on the three dots and you will see several options for suspending that KPI (preventing it from being used in other calculations within Canopy). For instance, the option to ‘Suspend KPI’ will keep the KPI numbers in that row from being used in the Summary KPI panel at the top of the page. In addition, you can ‘Suspend Threshold Check,’ which translates to suspending the KPI for threshold calculations and ‘Suspend for Summary,’ which means the KPI will not be used for calculating the ‘Status’ on the left end of that row.

If you have ‘Actions,’ they’re easier to reach. Some Canopy customers are able to use Actions to perform certain tasks. If you have Actions as part of your Canopy installation, you can quickly get to the list of Actions by clicking on the three dots that appear to the left of the Status icon on each row in the Operations page.

A new and improved Marketplace page. If your instance of Canopy is able to integrate with third-party apps and APIs, you can visit the Marketplace page by clicking on ‘Marketplace’ in the upper right corner of any Canopy screen. Once you click on the link, you will be taken to the newly redesigned Marketplace page where you can explore all the different types of integrations that Canopy can accommodate.

The new Canopy Marketplace screen.

As always, please reach out to us if you have any questions. We encourage customers to send a note to support@banyanhills.com.


IoT for Healthcare: A Huge Opportunity

With a new generation of wearable devices coming, doctors will be able to regularly check the progress of patients by accessing data in the cloud.

America's population is aging. In 2014, people 65 years or older numbered about 46 million, or 14.5 percent of the population. According to statistics from the Administration on Aging, the ratio is going to balloon to almost 22 percent by 2040. And that's just one of many factors placing an ever-growing strain on our healthcare system. Healthcare providers need ammunition to deliver better care at lower costs - and it's no surprise that an array of connected devices - the Health Internet of Things, if you will - is leading that charge.

One common problem of many patients: managing their medication. And this is one way - nearly the low-hanging fruit of the H-IOT world - that connected devices can help. Connected medication dispensers can let patients know when it's time to take medicine and to monitor that it has, in fact, been taken. All automatically. Imagine a carousel that spins to present the right medication - even stored in its original pill bottle - at the right time. A wireless network could text caregivers if the patient doesn't take the medication as prescribed.

Technology is also increasingly important for ensuring that patients - particularly older ones and those suffering from dementia - remain safe both from physical injury and from, in some cases, wandering away from their center of care. H-IOT solutions can offer an array of tools for doing that remotely and without 24/7 supervision.

Using a combination of networked devices, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, wearable GPS tracking devices can be configured with virtual "geofences" to alert caregivers if things go awry.

In similar fashion, the H-IOT could offer a modern update to the traditional Personal Emergency Response System (PERS), which consists of a wearable pendant that users can trigger to signal for help. But rather than waiting for a patient to press a panic button, contemporary technology could use machine learning and artificial intelligence to learn patterns and respond to unusual behavior, such as proactive fall detection. If the software knows what a fall looks like mathematically, false positives (like dropping the sensor, for example) won't trigger an alert.

And that's just scratching the surface. H-IOT applications go beyond monitoring and adherence. In fact, some companies are exploring the possibility of bringing medical devices - both externally worn and fully implanted - into the H-IOT.

For one compelling example, consider pain measurement and physical therapy applications - the right solution can more objectively score pain and recovery, something that today is all too subjective. As you may know if you've ever visited a doctor's office with any sort of physical pain, doctors and therapists use a completely subjective 10-point rating scale to assess your condition and recovery. "Rate your pain on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most pain." As a modern alterative, imagine a wearable motion sensor device that automatically collects information like range of motion, strength, and smoothness of motion. The device wirelessly transmits the data the cloud for processing and analysis. Such a system would allow physical therapists, doctors, and insurers to regularly check the progress of patients, adding scientific rigor to what is today a subjective self-assessment.

Finally, there's no technical reason that even implanted devices cannot be networked and connected, allowing diagnostic information to be transmitted in real time for logging and evaluation by medical professionals. Indeed, the next decade should be an exhilarating time for the growth of medical applications that leverage smart, networked devices to lower costs, improve efficacy, and help patients lead better lives.

Find out how an IoT platform like Canopy can provide help with healthcare operations in addition to other features such as patient communications and incident management.

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6 Tips for Delivering Engaging Content In Digital Signage

Digital signage
With digital signage, you will only have people’s attention for a few seconds, so make it count.

Understanding the best way to use digital signs to engage with customers, clients, or other audiences can seem like a challenging task. But it’s more straightforward than it first seems. After all, digital signage may seem high-tech, but it’s just another medium in which to communicate. There are a few simple rules for delivering engaging content to your audience – and some unique ways to get the most out of this platform by taking advantage of what makes it different.

1. Nail the basics. Whether you’re writing on paper, the web, or a digital sign, keep your message focused and relevant to your audience. You will only have people's attention for a few seconds, so make it count. To that end, make sure your content is short and to the point—and while you don’t have to be (or hire) a graphic designer, you should strive to make the content pop visually, with bright or contrasty colors. If you include images, match the look and feel of your other marketing materials. Of course, have a strong CTA (call to action) that unambiguously lets people know what to do next, with a website URL, phone number, or some other way for them to react to your sign.

2. Share dynamic information. If you want to be engaging, you need to be fresh and timely. Thankfully, it’s often easier to update a digital sign than it is to refresh your business’s web site or blog. With the right software, you can automatically keep your sign up to date via an RSS feed (Really Simple Syndication – a tool that can grabs information from a computer or web site). The info you push to the sign can be almost anything, from weather updates to election results to more substantial blocks of text.

3. Share discounts and offers via text message. This is an area in which digital signs excel – you’re communicating one-to-many, but the nature of digital signage tech is such that everyone who sees your message can respond and have their own individual experience with you. If you’re a small business, for example, you can allow customers to send a text message to receive a unique promotion code or discount that could be used in-store. Just program the sign to display a message with a call to action to text a word to get a digital coupon, for example.

4. Go fully interactive. Once you dip your foot into the interactive waters with text messaging, you have the potential to really engage customers by establishing a two-way dialog. With the right software, you can let customers send text messages that appear on the sign itself. There’s some inherent risk in this – you can’t control what people will text – but Coca Cola successfully launched their "Share a Coke" campaign in just this way. The massive brand let people to text their names, which were then displayed on a giant screen in Time Square.

5. Make your content conditional. Even if you’re not manning the sign 24/7, your sign can make it look like you are. With the right conditional content – tied to an RSS feed, Twitter account, or the like, you can ensure your sign presents relevant information about what’s happening in the world around the customer. If it starts raining, your sign can advertiser umbrellas, for example. If the local Democrat wins the election, you can offer one kind of discount; if the Republican wins, a different one.

6. Use dayparting to display different content at different times of day. Finally, dayparting – scheduling your sign’s messages – is a powerful tool for staying relevant and fresh. Restaurants will immediately recognize the value in showing a breakfast menu or promo early in the day, and then switching to the lunch and dinner messaging at the appropriate times. Late at night? Woo customers with the concept of a bedtime snack.

Find out how an IoT platform like Canopy can provide help with digital signage operations in addition to other features such as marketing communications and incident management.

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Why Restaurants Are Finding Self-Serve Kiosks Attractive

Restaurant kiosk
Self-serve kiosks offer a surprising array of advantages to restaurants.

Restaurants are among the most beleaguered of retail establishments; according to CNBC, about 60 percent of new restaurants fail within the first year—and 80 percent close in their first 5 years. Consumers also have more options than ever. There’s a rebirth of high-end dining in many major cities, and seemingly every urban area has an abundance of choices including fast food, table service, home delivery services, and even meal kit businesses (liked Blue Apron and Dinnerly) to contend with. The bottom line: Every restaurant needs some sort of edge to poise themselves for success.

Increasingly, self-service kiosks can provide that edge. To be sure, many restauranteurs are reluctant to invest in new technology, but self-serve kiosks offer a surprising array of advantages. And unlike some technologies designed to only improve the retail bottom line, kiosks have ways to improve both the restaurant’s balance sheet and the customer experience in seemingly equal measure.

Giving customers a self-serve device, for example, means not only that their order is more reliable — instead of relying on sometimes inexact server’s notes , customers choose exactly what they want from a very visual digital menu — but orders can be entered and delivered more promptly, and on the customer’s cadence without waiting for a harried server to arrive.

And the presence of always-aware ordering systems means that customers can add to their order at any time, without needing to wait for a server to check in.

Of course, kiosks also make it easy to pay the bill without waiting as well, and the digital nature of the system means it’s easy for customers to perform common tasks like split checks and add tips. End to end, de-coupling the overall customer experience from the need for a server to visit each table improves customer satisfaction at every level. And that translates directly to a benefit for the restaurant: It can be readily reflected in customer loyalty and repeat visits, social media posts, and comment cards.

Kiosks pay off for the restaurant in myriad other ways. First and foremost, digital menus encourage add-on purchases; systems can be designed to make pairing suggestions, so in addition to upgrades, the system can help customers choose appetizers and alcohol choices that go well with the entrees they’ve selected. Such systems can be programmatic and personalized; kiosks can even learn from the buying habits of repeat customers, sometimes making better recommendations than human servers and sales associates.

Self-service tools help restaurants do more with less, allowing them to make better use of employees and put them in roles where the human touch is especially advantageous. But routine ordering and bill management? Let a robot do that.

And self-serve tech isn’t one-size-fits-all. There are as many solutions as there are kinds of retails models. Commonly, kiosks can be stationed on each table for a complete digital replacement of the menu and payment system. Some restaurants, such as casino buffet-style restaurants, deploy kiosks in the customer queue so they can place their order and pay before even being seated. And for chic urban convenience, nothing beats the ability to place an order on a tablet at the front of the line (or even on an app on the customer’s phone to “grab and go” when they reach the register.

What glues all of these experiences together is the common thread of customer satisfaction and production efficiency. Indeed, restaurants can take this tech to the next level by tracking customer response times. How long does it take a server to respond to an order placed by a self-serve kiosk? What if a customer requests assistance? Wearable tech – think smart watches with a focus on back-of-house efficiency – can be deployed to wait staff so they’re alerted in real time when customers vie for their attention.

Costs are simply never going to go down. And with restaurants under such competitive pressure, self-serve kiosks might just be the perfect solution to help poise your restaurant for success.

Find out how an IoT platform like Canopy can provide help with kiosk operations in addition to other features such as marketing communications and incident management.

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How IoT Can Enhance the Customer Experience

Satisfied customer
Satisfied customers often spend more on products and are more likely to recommend a brand to friends, family and colleagues.

First, let’s focus on why the customer experience is so important. Companies such as Amazon, Zappos, Apple, Uber and the Dollar Shave Club have made it a central part of their brand.

The reason is simple: companies that focus on the customer experience realize important benefits. Research has demonstrated that satisfied customers will spend more on products, exhibit deeper loyalty and recommend a brand more frequently than customers who are not satisfied. For those reasons alone, producing a positive customer experience should be considered a competitive edge.

What role does IoT play in enhancing the customer experience? It’s starting to touch almost every area and should be considered part of any customer experience strategy. Here are three places where IoT can be particularly useful in creating more satisfied customers:

IoT and Customer Support
IoT can play a significant role in creating a positive customer experience.

For example, IoT can improve customer satisfaction by monitoring equipment for problems. In some situations, the IoT sensors may be able to predict problems before they surface. Perhaps a piece of equipment exhibits certain symptoms before it breaks down. If the IoT device could send an alert to an engineer warning them about the potential problem, the equipment could be fixed before the problem leads to any downtime.

What if the problem has gotten so bad that the equipment failure has led to downtime? The customer will need to contact support, explain what happened and then wait for a technician to be dispatched. An Internet of Things solution could circumvent those steps by automatically notifying a technician that a certain piece of equipment has failed for a particular reason and requires a service call. All of this could happen before the customer even calls to speak with a support desk. How much happier would the customer be if they knew that help was already on the way?

IoT and Inventory
In a world where Amazon is increasingly dominating the shopping experience, customers want their products quickly and they want them shipped for free within a couple of days. That’s becoming table stakes when competing for customers’ share of wallet.

IoT can keep inventory levels high enough to meet customer demand. In warehouses where products are stored, IoT sensors will know when supply is low and send an automatic order to replenish. This in turn keeps customers happy because they can order their products without delay.

IoT and Personalization
Because IoT devices collect so much more data about the customer, it’s possible to personalize many of the customer’s interactions with your company. Marketing messages can be limited to the types of products or services that would interest a particular customer. With multiple IoT devices all connected, like digital signs and self-service kiosks personalized data can be used to push real-time campaigns. IoT can make Digital out-of-home advertising possible in any retail environment. Add lighting and sound, and it’s like transforming your store with a stadium-like experience.

Needless to say, this level of personalization will enhance customer communications and help bridge the gap between the customer’s expectations and what the company can deliver. In many cases, that alone will help reduce complaints about service.

As with lots of other areas, IoT will likely improve the customer experience in ways we have not imagined yet. Have thoughts on how IoT will help make your customers happy? Leave us a note on our Facebook page or send us a tweet @banyanhills.

What to Read Next: How Self-Service Can Become More Human

Personalization will bring waves of innovation to customer experience. Find out how an IoT platform like Canopy can provide help with device operations in addition to other features such as marketing communications and incident management.

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The Evolution of Big Data, Predictive Analytics, and How It Will Affect Your Self-Storage Business

PTI Core IoT graphic

A guest blog written by our friends at PTI Security Systems

If there’s one thing that’s universally true, it’s that agile businesses flourish with changing times. This is certainly applicable to the self-storage industry, as any site owner or operator will tell you that renters aren’t interested in leaving their valuable property in the hands of anyone who doesn’t have the latest safety and security technologies in place.

Self-storage facility owners wishing to remain competitive, therefore, have to keep up with technological developments that impact their business directly. Advances in digital, keyless entry systems, web-enabled security cameras, and better, more secure types of storage unit locks that are resistant to tampering are all important weapons that a modern self-storage facility needs to have in its arsenal when it comes to keeping your customers happy.

Yet there’s another toolset that your self-storage business will need if you want to keep your competitive edge. Big data analytics. It’s often overlooked because it’s both an emergent trend and because it doesn’t seem to, at first glance, have as direct a benefit, but the truth is that there are a number of customer-focused big data applications that can have a positive effect. Big data can not only help you gain new customers but also keep existing ones, leading to a major impact on your bottom line.

Understanding Big Data
Just what, exactly, do we mean when we say “big data”? The term is bandied about seemingly anywhere today, yet there never seems to be a clear enough definition. This is obviously unhelpful, especially in conveying information about the trend to those that are unfamiliar with it. Making matters worse, big data’s rise to power has been a direct result of the internet and consumer connectivity, things that many self-storage unit owners and operators may not be familiar with.

Big data, when it comes right down to brass tacks, is a catch-all term for the sheer volume of information we now have at our fingertips. Thanks to the dawning of the Information Age there is more actionable information available on the average consumer today than there’s been at any point in time. So many of us maintain a digital presence on the internet, and almost every action we do generates important information — data — that can be collected by marketers or businesses.

With many of us having been on the internet for decades now, the amount of information gathered can be voluminous. That’s why these organizations will use sophisticated computer algorithms to analyze all this data, looking for trends so they can better serve you content that is likely to appeal to you. This is why big data is also often referred to as “predictive analysis”; over enough time, and with enough information collected, big data experts say that it’s easy to forecast consumer spending habits and other activities.

This data can be gathered from a number of different sources, including:

  • e-mail activity – Have a Gmail account? Google serves you ads based on what it thinks you’ll be interested in, based on who you’re emailing and what you’re saying.
  • social media activity – Liking certain types of posts on Facebook will, over time, begin having an effect on your news feed; you’ll start to see similar content more often.
  • online shopping – E-commerce sites like Amazon will track not just the items you purchase but the ones you browse. They then use this data to determine product suggestions for you.
  • watching streaming movies or television shows – Netflix keeps track of what you watch and then suggests content to you that you’re likely to enjoy because it has similar thematic elements to what you just watched.
  • search engine activity – Whether it’s Bing, Google, Yahoo, or any other search engine, you’re likely to begin seeing targeted ads appearing on websites based on your most recent search activity.

The Self-Storage Industry Needs Big Data, Too
This is all well and good, you might say, but where do big data and predictive analytics come in when it comes to remaining competitive in the world of self-storage? Renters interact with storage sites in the real world, as they have to physically visit facilities to store or retrieve their belongings, after all.

This is true. While the connectivity that the internet has brought us has certainly made it easier to conduct all sorts of activities from a computer — or more likely a mobile phone — you can’t exactly upload a bedroom set to the cloud just yet. However, there are a number of aspects of your self-storage business that can and should rely on internet connectivity.

The aspects that can benefit from the application of big data analytics are wider and more varied than you might think. If you’ve already transitioned to modern technologies that track your renter’s activity in any way — logging visits, rent payments, or even phone calls — you can use predictive analytics to unlock valuable information about how your renters may act in the future.

Predictive Analytics and Renter Interactions
One of the biggest advantages that you as a self-storage site owner or operator is being able to forecast how your renters are going to behave. In a business that relies on a constant flow of regular monthly rental income, predictive analysis can be applied to years of renter payment data to determine which renters tend to pay on time and which renters are habitually late. You can then take proactive steps to remind habitually late renters about upcoming due dates.

Big data goes beyond just payment information, however. If you log visitors and out electronically, over time this generates a data set that shows when specific renters tend to visit your facility and how long they tend to stay while they’re on premises. This data unlocks information such as how your renters behave at specific times of the week, the month, or even the year. Applications for this data include knowing when you need to keep your on-site office staffed sufficiently, when you might need extra security measures, and when you don’t.

Big data and predictive analytics can even help you provide better customer service to those who haven’t even become renters yet. Gaining access to big data that’s been gathered by others can help you target prospective renters in unique ways, one of which is dedicating some of your marketing budget to targeted online ads. Linking your ads to certain search engine keywords that prospects are likely to look for will ensure a link to your website will be at the top of the list. There are a number of keywords that are likely to pan out, such as:

  • moving
  • movers
  • storage units
  • storage rental
  • self-storage
  • donations
  • dumpster rental

This tactic will also work on social media platforms that offer targeted marketing services. Facebook, for example, will allow you to “boost” a post for a price, and the platform’s marketing tools offer highly granular targeting options to ensure relevant content will be served to profiles that have indicated that they’re planning a move, just finished one, or any of the other many reasons that people find themselves in need of a self-storage facility.

The Final Word on Big Data and Self-Storage Units
It’s impossible to know for sure what the future may bring, but it is fairly obvious that, barring some major catastrophe, we are going to become more and more at home with inhabiting online spaces. This focus on connectivity has given rise to big data and predictive analytics and there’s no turning back now. The genie is out of the bottle and those that can adapt to these new conditions will stand to benefit.

By now it should be abundantly clear that big data, even though it was born and bred in the world of online connectivity, has a major role to play in the traditionally physical realm of self-storage facilities. This will only become increasingly prevalent as storage facility owners and operators continue to integrate high-connectivity technologies into their sites over and above keyless entry systems and similar tech in order to remain competitive and relevant in an ever-more digital society.

Coming up with a big data strategy can be difficult, however — especially if you have no idea where to start. In this case, it’s important to rely on expert guidance and help when it comes to data collection methods and predictive analysis. If you don’t know an algorithm from an alligator, you need someone you can trust, like PTI Security. With specific experience in connectivity in a self-storage facility environment, PTI Security has the skills and the expertise to ensure your self-storage site is ushered into the 21st century.


6 Use Cases of Unattended Payment Solutions That Can Help You Grow Your Business

By: Bruce Rasmussen, Director of Sales, Strategic Verticals at Ingenico Group, North America

In today’s purchasing environment, business strategies need to be more customer-centric to successfully capture consumer demand and capitalize on spending habits. Unattended payment solutions support this strategy by addressing consumer wants and needs as they relate to speed, security, convenience and overall purchase experience.

Apart from being easy and convenient to use, today’s unattended payment solutions —including digital kiosks and vending machines — also accept EMV chip cards and mobile wallets, such as Apple Pay and Android Pay. These additions make transactions more secure. Being able to use mobile wallets also enhances a customer’s overall purchase experience.

The benefits seem clear, but some people might believe that unattended payment acceptance would never work for their business. However, these solutions are increasingly becoming the norm across a variety of industries with many use cases. Let’s take a look at six key use cases that can help you grow your business:

  • Parking Kiosks: Parking lots and garages can benefit from the convenience of kiosks. In a typical garage or parking lot, a cashier must manually process each driver’s entry and exit, which leads to long lines. Customer service suffers, and garages and parking lots experience low turnover rates. With smart, unattended payment solutions in place, customers can pay for parking on their own terms. They enter the parking lot or garage, receive a ticket and rate information, pay using their credit card or mobile wallet, and benefit from a seamless parking experience that doesn’t interfere with their schedule.
  • Ticketing Kiosks: For many years now, unattended solutions have helped consumers avoid lines at movie theaters and ticketing counters at subway/railway stations. In most cases, buying tickets to a movie or a transportation service rarely requires a consultative experience, and this is where unattended solutions can add to the convenience and efficiency for customers as well as the business owner. Ticketing kiosks don’t require a lot of space, and businesses can use multiple terminals to service many customers at once.
  • Retail Kiosks: Today, many shoppers go into a retail store knowing a lot about the product they want to purchase, and they aren’t looking for a consultative experience. Kiosks allow shoppers to browse through the product catalog, and once they decide on the product, they can simply pay securely at the kiosk and meet a sales associate at the front to pick up their merchandise. Consumers also appreciate the ability to learn more about products by interacting with a digital kiosk and without feeling that a sales rep is trying to upsell them.
  • Restaurant Drive-Thrus: Unattended solutions are being implemented in many drive-thru environments. By allowing customers to select and customize their order on an unattended solution, quick service restaurants enhance the overall consumer experience. The payment process is also more secure for customers since they pay at the kiosk rather than hand their card to the cashier while they collect their food.
  • Vending: Consumers don’t carry cash like they used to 5-10 years ago. Today’s vending solutions have evolved and now accept magstripe, EMV and contactless payments to enhance the customer’s payment experience. With these solutions in place, a customer can walk up to the vending machine, order a product, pay securely using a credit cards or mobile wallet, and walk away with the merchandise in hand. Vending solutions are useful for small to medium-sized ticket items that don’t require a consultative experience with store representatives.
  • Retail Pharmacy Dispensers: Retail pharmacies have limited hours, which can make it difficult for customers to pick up their prescriptions within the allotted time period. Unattended solutions are being widely adopted by pharmacies all over the country and provide customers with the convenience of picking up their medication at any time. In addition to prescription drugs, these unattended solutions provide consumers with after-hours access to essential over-the-counter medications such as aspirin, bandages and ointments. These products usually don’t require an interaction with the pharmacist, so offering self-service access to them can help increase revenue and improve efficiency.

Speed, simplicity, control, convenience, and security — these are the qualities of a seamless purchasing experience that your customers really want. Whether your customers are at the airport, parking their car, or in a retail environment, you can extend your omni-channel strategy and reach them wherever they are with unattended payment solutions. For more information on our unattended solutions, visit our Unattended Solutions page.

This article was originally published on Ingenico Group’s blog.

Bruce Rasmussen is the Director of Sales, Strategic Verticals at Ingenico Group, North America


IIoT Enables Smart Factories, Improves Uptime & More

There’s never been a more opportune time to leverage technology to improve operations on the manufacturing floor and in factories. Industry 4.0 has arrived, and it’s the next big technology trend involving manufacturing, automation and the Internet of Things (IoT). The Internet of Things remains a vast category that touches our personal lives and has given us smart cars, connected homes and virtual assistants that improve our productivity. Manufacturers have embraced this technology and brought innovation to the factory floor and assembly line through cloud technology and connected machines. Broad adoption in this market has resulted in the Industrial Internet of Things(IIoT).

The IIoT is ushering in a new wave of technology and capabilities that will automate tasks, lower costs and improve safety. Sensors will allow operators to know when a piece of equipment is near the end of its life, allowing it to be replaced before a problem occurs — and more importantly, before safety becomes a risk. That same equipment will send data to operators letting them know about the conditions on the factory floor so that enhancements can be made, problems can be addressed, and productivity can be improved, ushering in predictive maintenance across the plant’s operations. Beyond the gains in productivity and lowering costs, manufacturers will find new revenue streams thanks to this new industrial ‘revolution.’

How IIoT transforms Smart Factories

The potential benefits are enormous, but they can be hard to visualize. It helps to know that the most significant gains of the Industrial Internet of Things is from data-driven applications. Those applications, in turn, push relevant information to the right decision makers at the right time. Companies and manufacturers can then use that data to improve product reliability, energy consumption, and even plant safety.

This data can save months of downtime, repair costs and lost revenues. For instance, if the data indicates that a piece of equipment is slowing down due to wear-and-tear or failed components, the plant operators can be alerted and then can replace or fix the part to bring it back to its normal, healthy state. This can often translate to double-digit improvements in plant productivity and improve the safety of those operating the equipment.

In addition, the data collected through the IIoT can be of interest to the overall industry and some entities may be willing to pay for it. In this way, the data represents a potential new source of revenue for businesses.

What to look for in an IIoT platform

Many industrial operators look for a scalable and flexible solution when it comes to selecting an IoT platform. They know for an IIoT implementation to work, and deliver results it must be set up, configured and easily customized to monitor their equipment and show metrics specific to their operations.  The value of an IIoT platform lies not only in the capability to collect data but in the ability to process and store data so that it can trigger actions and help operators make meaningful decisions. Start by defining business problem and then choose a solution that monitors the results. The platform should have the flexibility to configure Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) specific to the business. These KPIs should be accessible via dashboards, reports and even be automated to trigger actions that will improve operations and optimize performance automatically. When choosing a platform make sure it’s helping leverage the IIoT data that is being collected, processed and stored by emphasizing visualization and has the tools to help make informed decisions that can improve business.

Keep Security Top of Mind

Security is a constant concern, but the good news is that an IIoT platform can enhance a security strategy. If it’s built from the ground up using the latest technology, an IoT platform can help with security by monitoring network traffic and physical structures and then send back information whenever anything unusual is detected. IIoT platforms with the capability to do software distribution can ensure the latest updates and patches are performed promptly and can help reduce risks and system vulnerabilities.

How to approach an IIoT implementation

Starting with a technology assessment is often a necessary first step. It will help determine the aspects of the operation that will benefit most from an IIoT implementation. Choose a technology partner that is either already familiar with the industry or will be eager to take the time to learn that particular business. Building this relationship and trust is critical as it leverages the partner’s technical expertise in the Internet of Things, and the business knowledge to ensure the IIoT implementation is successful. Work with the right technology partner to determine the pacing and sequencing of integrating IoT capabilities into any existing technology and determine how that will be the least disruptive to the overall operations. Create a plan to manage the rollout so the business can scale the implementation over time. Remember customizable KPIs are essential because they can provide an operator a real-time view of the data from the plant’s machines, locations and other aspects of the operations that are important and critical to the business.

The Industrial Internet of Things will change manufacturing in fundamental ways. Find out how an IoT platform like Canopy can provide help with manufacturing operations with real-time monitoring, remote management and automate operations through customizable IoT campaigns.