Retailers Embrace Kiosks Amid Retail Real Estate Shift

PHOTO: VIA KOODO MOBILE MARKET MALL FACEBOOK

PHOTO: VIA KOODO MOBILE MARKET MALL FACEBOOK

By Mario Toneguzzi

Kiosks have become a popular and growing trend in the retail industry in recent years as different brands, beyond cellphone companies, are using the unique space to sell everything from sun glasses to specialty foods.

Manufacturer Pan-Oston, based in Peterborough, Ontario, has capitalized on this trend by creating and pre-making kiosks for an assortment of retailers.

Today, kiosks are being used for all kinds of products and services such as banking, wine, insurance, heavy tools and travel, said Greg Butler, president of Pan-Oston, which is a leading Canadian retail store fixture manufacturer with about 40 years’ experience.

Regina-based jewellery brand ‘Hillberg & Berk’ has been utilizing a kiosk strategy to expand its base of stores. This location is at Cornwall Centre in Regina. Photo: Hillberg & Berk

Regina-based jewellery brand ‘Hillberg & Berk’ has been utilizing a kiosk strategy to expand its base of stores. This location is at Cornwall Centre in Regina. Photo: Hillberg & Berk

“Our impression why we’re seeing more kiosks located not only in malls but also within large retailers - they’re setting up standalone kiosks within stores as well - the cost of real estate of course is the biggest driver,” said Butler. “Some of the chains out there now logically go in and take over a retail space, four walls, and with that they’re paying for the complete renovation of the space to set it to their brand, their shape, their size. Fixture it all out. Light it, include signage and increasingly digital.”

“Nowadays the cost of that versus a small cost of rental for a centre aisle within a mall is much, much cheaper. Now when they look at a pre-manufactured kiosk like we’re providing from a factory - for the sake of argument putting it in simple terms comes in, plug and play - it’s installed, instant store.”

Manufacturer Pan-Oston, based in Peterborough, Ontario, has capitalized on this trend by creating and pre-making kiosks for an assortment of retailers.

Koodo kiosks at the Pan-Oston facility in Peterborough, Ontario. PHOTO: PAN-OSTON

Koodo kiosks at the Pan-Oston facility in Peterborough, Ontario. PHOTO: PAN-OSTON

“Pan-Oston has been able to produce and roll out Koodo Kiosks - Initially using our designs, but over time they have improved our modular cabinets so they are easier to install and more staff friendly. They have added the installation of third party vendor components on the shop floor to save time.”

“We have worked together to implement improvements, continually review how we can improve or add impact. Something I particularly respect and appreciate in a supplier”. Lewis Holmes: Business Analyst Store Development Koodo.

Pan-Oston's efforts result in far less time to install kiosks at locations anywhere in Canada. This has reduced not just on location set up significantly, but reduced costs overall and it has also helped ensure continuity at each location.

Best Buy Mobile kiosk at CF Market Mall in Calgary. Photo: Best Buy

Best Buy Mobile kiosk at CF Market Mall in Calgary. Photo: Best Buy

“The concept of free-standing kiosk retailing in the common areas of shopping centres has been around for a generation or more and has gained widespread acceptance with shopping centre landlords and retailers alike since the early 1970’s,” said Michael Kehoe, broker with Fairfield Commercial Real Estate in Calgary.

“Retail landlords enjoy the income created from virtually ’found space’ in previously unproductive common areas with the addition of kiosks and the merchandising opportunities they provide. Retail, food service and telecom service type shopping centre tenants capitalize on exposure kiosk locations provide in locations with high levels of footfall. The sophistication of kiosk design has evolved in the recent past to comply with higher levels of mall design criteria.”

Tech indide a kiosk at Pan-Oston’s facility in Peterborough, ONtario. PHOTO: PAN-OSTON

Tech indide a kiosk at Pan-Oston’s facility in Peterborough, ONtario. PHOTO: PAN-OSTON

Toronto-based ice cream concept ‘Sweet Jesus’ has used kiosks to expand its retail locations in Canada as well as in the United States. Photo is in Vaughan Mills north of Toronto. Photo: Sweet Jesus Ice Cream

Toronto-based ice cream concept ‘Sweet Jesus’ has used kiosks to expand its retail locations in Canada as well as in the United States. Photo is in Vaughan Mills north of Toronto. Photo: Sweet Jesus Ice Cream

Landlords benefit from increased revenue and can offset some of revenue that may be lost when stores in regular space close. For the retailer, operating out of kiosk, gives the business more access to customers as they are walking by - more face to face opportunity.

Kiosks can also be ideal for new and smaller retailers to develop their brand. The potential for kiosks is beyond retail stores and malls. They really can be used anywhere.

Darryl Schmidt, vice-president of national leasing for the Western Portfolio Office of Cadillac Fairview, said the use of kiosks has been a growing trend for a couple of reasons. With the rash of bankruptcies and store closures, mall owners have been trying to find innovative ways to replace that income because the demand hasn’t been there to backfill all the vacant units.

CF Market Mall in Calgary currently has 16 kiosks and three carts in the shopping centre. Photo: Cadillac Fairview

CF Market Mall in Calgary currently has 16 kiosks and three carts in the shopping centre. Photo: Cadillac Fairview

There has also been a conscious decision to activate the common areas in appropriate spots to create a better shopping experience and allow people to have longer dwell times in common areas.

For example, CF Market Mall in Calgary currently has 16 kiosks and three carts in the shopping centre.

“I liken it to fishing. You’re in the middle of the stream where all the fish are swimming. You get maximum exposure to the maximum amount of footfall,” said Schmidt.

Dr. Aaron Patel, who operates Second Specs, an eyewear retailer, said his first kiosk opened in West Edmonton Mall in 2013. Today, the retailer has two locations in West Edmonton Mall, one in CrossIron Mills in the Calgary area, one in Market Mall, one in Sherwood Park, one in St. Albert and one in the Londonderry Mall in Edmonton. All are kiosks with the exception of the location in Sherwood Park which is in a regular store format.

Second specs retail kiosk at West Edmonton Mall. Photo: Second Specs

Second specs retail kiosk at West Edmonton Mall. Photo: Second Specs

Setting up a vendor kiosk, including point-of-sale system at Pan-Oston’s facility in Peterborough, Ontario. PHOTO: PAN-OSTON

Setting up a vendor kiosk, including point-of-sale system at Pan-Oston’s facility in Peterborough, Ontario. PHOTO: PAN-OSTON

“The nice thing about a kiosk versus the in-line I find is the approachability. Everyone has a different personal space so they feel comfortable at approaching. We have a lot of people we notice will hover at a distance quite far away and they are just checking it out and feel safe there and approach when they’re ready. Some people come straight up to it and try things right away,” said Patel.

“When you’re in an in-line store, as soon as you cross that threshold of being in the store you’re kind of fair game. You’re committed to engage in a conversation about the product. (Kiosks) give people this sense of looking before committing. Certainly the traffic going by is important.”

Another retailer that has experienced great success with kiosks is the national brand Mr. Pretzels.

Carmine Di Fruscia, president of Mr. Pretzels in Canada, said part of the company’s charm is the show it puts on for customers as it makes the pretzels from scratch right in front of their eyes.

“I love being in the kiosk because we do the show and tell. We do the whole show in front of the people,” he said. “For me, the experience of a client it’s much better in a kiosk than anything else.”

Mr. Pretzels has been using kiosks to rapidly expand its locations into various Canadian shopping centres. Photo: Mr. Pretzels

Mr. Pretzels has been using kiosks to rapidly expand its locations into various Canadian shopping centres. Photo: Mr. Pretzels

As more retailers see the potential of using a kiosk to sell their products and services, a manufacturer like Pan-Oston is developing efficient and effective ways to facilitate the installation of kiosks across Canada.

“What we’re able to do here in the plant - it’s a bit like the pre-fab home idea - where we can make it square, make it consistent, make it right for the purchaser on a consistent basis all across Canada,” said Butler, adding that Pan-Oston installs all the components of a kiosk in the plant. “You cut a lot of the logistics concerns for the buyer . . . Some of the outside contractors physically come into our plant and do the installation before it goes to the mall.

“We also provide the installation crew. Somebody who has been trained on installing that kiosk already and has immediate access to our people here for questions, concerns, problems, issues, whatever they might be. The comfort level for that purchaser of the kiosk goes way up because now he knows it’s going to be supplied complete in a consistently built way.”

*This article was sponsored by Pan-Oston, which supplies retailers with kiosks as well as other fixtures such as point-of-sale tills (including convertible self-checkouts) and distributes the ‘Airwave’ technology as previously reported here. To work with Retail Insider, email: craig@retail-insider.com

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Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: mdtoneguzzi@gmail.com.

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