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Should You Invest In Kiosks For Your Business? Here's What To Know About Their Profitability and Usage The short answer: yes. However, like any piece of technology, you need to have a solid strategy and a clear set of goals to make money with a kiosk.

By Aaron Smith of Readwrite.com Edited by Mark Klekas

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

This story originally appeared on Readwrite.com.

With the rise of automation and self-checkout options, kiosks are becoming a hot topic of discussion among many business owners. But what exactly is a kiosk, and is it a profitable piece of equipment for businesses? Here's everything you need to know about the different types of kiosks and whether they're profitable hardware.

What is a Kiosk?

A kiosk is a small, computerized booth or screen with a digital display, usually a tablet or other touchscreen computer enclosed in a protective tablet wall mount. Kiosks are often found in high-traffic areas, and are intended to provide additional information or offer services to customers passing by. A kiosk may be manned by an attendant who can assist in a transaction, or it may stand on its own and be available to serve customers when human employees are busy. There are a few different types of kiosks that each offer unique services and advantages.

Information Kiosks

An information kiosk is the most general type of device, and its sole purpose is to offer information to shoppers. Information kiosks can be a great way to provide customers with resources and answer their questions without bothering the staff. They can be interactive or non-interactive but typically feature a menu system to help customers find what they need.

Related: 11 Ways to Automate Your Business and Boost Efficiency

Self-Service Kiosks

A self-service kiosk is a device that acts as a POS system where customers can check themselves out without waiting for a human cashier. It's typically a tablet or touchscreen computer that allows customers to scan and pay for items. It may be monitored by a human employee in case there is a system error or customers have questions. Self-service kiosks are a great way to avoid backed-up lines when it's busy and help reduce the cost of hiring cashiers.

Wayfinding Kiosks

A wayfinding kiosk is a device that exists to help visitors find their way around an area. You'll often see them at the mall or in large buildings where visitors need assistance to find a particular store or department. Wayfinding kiosks can be a great way to show potential customers exactly where they need to go to find you, so they don't get frustrated and simply visit another establishment. This can be especially crucial for businesses that aren't easy to locate or are within a large complex with many other stores.

Advertising Kiosks

An advertising kiosk is a large, backlit digital display that shows advertisements for a business or event. It's typically placed in a high-traffic area full of potential customers and intended to market products or services. It functions much like a billboard, although it offers additional flexibility and convenience because the display can be easily changed, or the kiosk itself can be moved to a different area.

Internet Kiosks

Internet kiosks are a particular type of kiosk that provides users access to the internet and other applications. They can offer visitors full access to the world wide web or restrict it to a particular page or application based on the goals of the provider. You can offer free internet access to encourage customers to try a specific software or application, or you can charge a small fee for use and attract those who just need to do a quick search while they're out running errands. Internet kiosks are a great way to bring in new customers and offer exclusive access to a digital product or service.

Are Kiosks Profitable for a Business?

The simple answer is yes; kiosks can be very profitable to many different businesses. However, it depends on your objectives and how you use it. For instance, self-service kiosks can be a great way to reduce the costs of hiring unnecessary employees, although they may not work for all businesses as certain industries benefit from human interaction.

Advertising kiosks are another device that can increase brand awareness and generate more sales. Here, you must have a solid marketing plan and research where your ideal customers are likely to hang out.

Related: Blendid's Automated Smoothie Kiosks Aim to Be a $300B Game Changer

Kiosks are a relatively low-cost piece of hardware that serve a variety of different purposes and can certainly help you cut costs and boost revenue. They are also a great way to provide resources and information to customers that may not directly translate into sales, but can help create new interactions and build brand awareness that will ultimately help your bottom line.

However, like any piece of technology, you need to have a solid strategy and a clear set of goals to make money with a kiosk. If you simply plant the device in the middle of your storefront and expect it to magically sell your products faster, you'll likely be disappointed. If you have a clear purpose and use your kiosk effectively, you're sure to see a significant return on investment!

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