Localism alert: While shopping at the downtown Chicago Macy’s the other week, I noticed a small line of customers queued up in a corner of the store. The line led not to a counter and a salesperson but to an automated kiosk for a skin care product.
Maybe I’m not the most dedicated shopper, but I had never seen anything resembling a large vending machine in a top-end retail store before. I was curious, so I came back to Macy’s a few days later to take another look. Same line – if anything, it was longer. Ladies and men were feeding credit cards into the machine – more like an automated booth – and watching branded video displays on skin care as the machine dispensed packages of product.
With no salesperson, and (apparently) no Macy’s stock-keeping requirements, plus a modest space requirement in a off-center location in the store, I imagined the net revenue dollars per square foot on this approximately 3×8′ kiosk was a pretty impressive number — even more so when compared to what stood there before: effectively nothing.
The product was Proactiv. You can find these kiosks around the country here.
What also struck me about the machine was how little it clashed visually and experience-wise with the surrounding sales floor. Situated at the edge of the cosmetics section, the kiosk’s video display and favorable lighting reflected the kinds of tones you expect from a cosmetics counter. The fit was excellent.
But still: a vending machine? In a top-end store? It nagged at me for an explanation.
In the end, I thought what I was seeing was in part explained by the nature of the product. Because Proactiv is aimed at skin problems, maybe, I thought, the kiosk afforded shoppers a kind of privacy.
And that’s what I imagined until I saw this today: luxury menswear kiosks.
Quattro Clothiers, a Toronto-based luxury menswear shop, is using an automated retail kiosk by Signifi to dispense designer Italian shirts, according to a news release.
The SpotShop kiosk uses a tray system to carefully handle the shirts, which carry price tags ranging from $225 to $395. The solution can be custom designed to each brand and features a digital display screen to promote the products. Quattro intends to use the machines to drive traffic back to their brick-and-mortar store by placing units within a three-to-four-mile radius, according to the release.
Well, there goes the idea that privacy alone drives kiosk sales. There’s nothing sensitive about designer Italian shirts.