David Peterson, an OEM hardware provider was kind enough to share some tips for selecting the right tablet for kiosk deployment.
Customer-facing devices, specifically touchscreen tablets in a variety of sizes and configurations, are earning an increasingly prominent spot in the retail world. Tablets are being deployed as digital kiosks, digital signage, mobile point-of-sale, loyalty program sign-up and redemption, shelf-talkers, endless aisle displays, and much more. In short, customer-facing devices are being used in a variety of exciting way to deepen customer engagement, increase sales, and improve customer satisfaction.
As versatile and powerful as these types of installations can be, there are some potentially frustrating issues that can hinder businesses if they don’t make informed decisions about their setup. Any installation will necessarily involve hardware and software elements to accomplish the desired goals. When it comes to the tablet, which is the primary hardware component, companies commonly seek to employ consumer tablets in their commercial installations. Numerous factors contribute to such decisions, such as product familiarity, but this can actually lead to several concerns.
Initially, there is the obvious concern of taking a tablet designed for a single user and employing it in an environment where dozens, hundreds, or even more users will interact with the device. How will the device hold up under “always on” usage and a continuous stream of users tapping on the screen?
Beyond that concern, there are practical matters to address that can lead to additional cost, aesthetic issues, and usability problems. For example, none of the currently available consumer tablets have the ability to be mounted directly to a stand or surface. This means, in order to use such a tablet as a customer-facing device, it must be housed in a protective case or enclosure that provides such mounting capabilities. There are numerous options available in the market, but they all change the aesthetics of the tablet and add cost to the equation.
Another huge issue facing consumer tablets in commercial settings is the need for multiple I/O connections. Very few of the consumer tablets offer any ports at all, and those that do have some are sorely limited. But what if your business situation calls for peripheral devices, such as bar code scanners, receipt printers, cash drawers and such? Adding external hubs may provide options in some cases, but it presents additional aesthetic concerns and the need to secure the hub to protect cable connections from tampering.
There’s also the issue of provisioning or setting up the tablets for the desired purpose. Most consumer products are filled with “bloatware” apps or ecosystem overlays that clutter the device, take up valuable storage space, consume system memory and slow down operations. But removing this unwanted software is either impossible or requires rooting the device, which has its own set of problems and concerns.
These are just a few examples of potential pitfalls of deploying consumer tablets in commercial settings as customer-facing devices.
In order to overcome these and other problems, businesses would do well to consider utilizing tablets designed specifically for commercial use.
Setting up installations with consumer tablets can be done, but it is fraught with numerous potential problems that must be overcome. To do so adds complexity, time, and cost to any such installation.
But if your deployment starts with a tablet designed specifically as a purposed device--one with plenty of computing power, generous I/O ports, built-in cable security, VESA mounting, and more--you’re already well on your way to success.