Mall Kiosks: Some Shopping Observations

So kiosks can’t think, but there is a lot of thought behind them, as well as a surprising lack of thought. Kiosks hold a pretty unique spot in the sales realm, and since most frugal shoppers like to know the advertising and marketing ploys of the places they shop, I thought I’d talk with a mall’s worth of kiosk vendors and dig up some dirty little secrets.

Ten things I was told:

1. The kiosks at our mall have uniform name signage, but one of the first things I learned is that signs are important. Words like SALE and ACCESSORY in large, eye-catching letters are vital to a kiosk’s performance.

2. Similarly, a kiosk with brighter, more interesting, yet friendly, lighting is bound to see results.

3. Displays and products should be coherent: customers will view merchandise displayed in a simple, silk-lined manner in a classy light, like jewelry in actual jewelry stores. Conversely, merchandise displayed in a visually noisy manner will be seen by customers as just clutter.

4. Changing the products around on the display a couple of times a day draws more customers than having a stable pattern.

5. Changing the featured product on the mannequin attracts customers.

6. Having more of something on display means that it will become the top seller.

7. Kiosks with similar products invariably have similar display layouts.

8. Many vendors rely on repeat customers and word-of-mouth advertising, especially when it comes to consumable products like creams and lotions.

9. Vendors choose high-traffic areas for their target demographics: teen fashion vending triangulated with teen fashion shops.

10. The key to kiosk vending is having the “right thing to sell.”

Although this last one seems obvious, this also means that a kiosk vendor believes he has exactly what customers want. A kiosk vendor is not likely to try to convince someone that the current product isn’t as good as his, and therefore is probably unprepared to really defend his product, which may also indicate a lack of education about it. A kiosk vendor who has the “right thing” also expects a browser to buy, as opposed to many stores which appreciate that someone just stopped in (which usually means a later return for purchase).

However, after I put away my shovel and watched the kiosks from afar, I found they bared some secrets to me as if I were the paparazzi. Here are four more secrets I learned with an observant eye.

1. Merchandise kiosks near food vending kiosks will get more traffic. Many stores in the mall do not allow food or drink inside, so if there’s a snack vendor, people must eat / drink before they go elsewhere. Thus, the kiosks nearby can be thoroughly perused, and even shopped.

2. Kiosk vendors are frequently bored. Vendors on cell phones, wearing I-Pod-phones, and daydreaming seem disinterested in selling you something. Yet, vendors visiting with their neighbors or with two employees, or with a friend seem personable and willing to chat.

3. Cell phone and sunglasses kiosks look like rest-stops. I observed several people–not vendors–leaning on the display cases and reading papers, people stopping to adjust their baggage or using it as an elbow rest while having conversations (both on the phone and with another shopper).

4. Vendors redecorating, stocking shelves, or doing some other busy-work just look busy. Too busy. A kiosk is a small place, and it really shouldn’t need that much constant attention.

The information I’ve discerned can be polished clean and viewed as either a positive or a negative, and which it is depends on what I’m trying to do. If I want to browse, unnoticed, I would pick the less attentive vendors. If I’m looking to really ask a question and learn something, I’ll choose the friendlier types. If I want to make a wiser purchase, I’ll be more wary of the tidy, carefully displayed vendors and focus on a more uniform or cluttered one, based on the idea they’re not trying so hard to sell me something. I also know I’m more likely to find a kiosk with something I want closer to the stores with the things I want. And I’ll certainly walk slower and be more attentive to kiosks offering something I need instead of just being drawn to the glowing ones decked with large-lettered signs.

Beyond any interpretation I can put on this information, each shopper can use this insight to their benefit and at the very least, you won’t look at shopping mall kiosks in the same light again.

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3 Responses to Mall Kiosks: Some Shopping Observations

  1. Debbie says:

    My sister used to work at a kiosk. Here are some things I learned from her.

    1) Malls fine stores for not opening on time and for closing before the mall’s closing hours, and kiosks also face these kinds of fines.

    2) Thievery is a problem. While you are talking to a salesperson, they have to keep an eye out on the rest of the kiosk in case you are trying to distract them so that a colleague can steal something.

    3) They may be able to give you a shocking amount of service. My sister worked at a jewelry kiosk. If someone said they would like a necklace, but it’s just too long, she could shorten it for them. As you said, they are bored, so they may be happy to have something like this to do.

    4) Kiosk workers watch out for each other; it’s the only way they can take bathroom breaks.

    5) Everything has to be put away and locked up at the end of each day and then pulled out again each morning. This can be quite time consuming. And the transformation from large glittery display area to small, dark cube and back can seem almost magical.

  2. Brady Flower says:

    Just a few more comments about the mall kiosks or carts. They can be an extremely profitable small business.

    It’s not unusual for a little kiosk to sell $100K or more during the November/December holiday season.

    Here’s some key factors to your success:

    1) Pick the Right Product for You.

    It’s important to pick a product that will sell. But you also want to pick one that you feel comfortable selling. There is a wide variance in how products are sold. So look for one that is a good seller, and one that are ok with selling.

    2) Demonstrate your Products.

    The more you interact with customers, the more you will sell. When you demonstrate your product, it gives the kiosk owner a context to interact with the customers. That’s why demonstration oriented products tend to be the best sellers off of a kiosk.

    3) Stock Enough Product.

    You often have only one crack at a customer, so you want to be prepared. You can’t sell off of an empty apple cart. It can take a little courage to place the big order you need at the begining of December. Stay Strong! And place the order. Typically fifty percent of a kiosk’s holiday sales come in the last ten days to two weeks before Christmas.

  3. huilan su says:

    can you build my own design kiosk.

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