More Evidence COVID Era Has Blown Up Demand For Self-Service Screens, This Time Out Of Canada

October 8, 2021 by Dave Haynes

Just about every piece of market research I come across that touches on digital signage is built around data developed in the US market, or sometimes from the EU. I never see research focused just on the Canadian market, but I just stumbled on some focused on self-service displays, aka kiosks.

The survey suggests a huge uptick in businesses investing in kiosk technology in the past couple of years – yet more indication that contrary to expectations and assumptions, the pandemic didn’t kill the touchscreen business, it boosted it.

Says the PR:

New proprietary research from SCI Group Inc. (SCI) and Signifi Solutions Inc. (Signifi) reveals that investment in self-service technologies is exploding as Canadian businesses seek safe distancing, touchless transactions and a simple, intuitive user experience for employees and customers during the pandemic. Half of respondents say their organization actually increased investment in kiosk technology prior to the pandemic, with three-in-ten saying their investment level has increased by more than 15 per cent since 2019.

As part of this research, SCI and Signifi commissioned a survey with Angus Reid to explore actual and planned investments in kiosk technology among Canadian organizations, in several sectors, to identify key trends. It uncovered three significant insights:

  1. the pandemic propelled short-term kiosk investment;
  2. a focus on digital transformation will continue to drive long-term investment;
  3. user satisfaction is the primary motivator for investing in kiosks, which include self-checkout terminals, interactive maps, vending machines and employee check-in devices.

The survey found that among those who say their investment had increased in the past 12 months, 61% said the COVID-19 pandemic was a significant or moderate factor in their decision. In healthcare sector, the primary application of kiosk technologies was for check-in purposes to help improve customer wait times. “The pandemic drove more people to use kiosks, which increased their comfort level with the technology and is leading to even better user-centric design for the next generation of devices,” says Peter Collier, Vice President, Technology, SCI Group. “We expect that increasing user comfort with kiosks and ongoing design improvements by kiosk manufacturers will continue to drive adoption.”

The survey also reveals nearly half of Canadian businesses are already deploying self-service technologies, and another third plan to deploy kiosks or some form of self-service technology in the next 12 months. Canadian businesses are including kiosk technology as part of their digital transformation strategies, with 77% of organizations stating kiosk technology to be important to their business in the next five years.

That seems like an awfully big percentage for all Canadian businesses, and there are bazillions of large and small businesses who would have no particularly rational need for touchscreens. So I am thinking this is more about retail and service sectors that engage with consumers.

Here’s the stated methodology: The research was conducted on the online Angus Reid Forum among 102 business decision-makers for purchasing kiosks/self-service technology, including those whose company/organization or clients have already invested in such technology and those with plans to invest in the next 12 months. The sample includes professionals in the following industries: manufacturing, retail, transportation, healthcare, management consulting, property management and public sector fields. For comparison purposes only, a sample of this size would yield a margin of error of +/-9.7 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The research was conducted in English and French between May 27 and May 31, 2021.

“There’s a new appetite for automation and kiosk technologies, part of which may be attributed to the shift in user habits that has stemmed from the pandemic,” says Jamie McDowell, Vice President of Marketing at Signifi Solutions. “More and more Canadian consumers and employees seem to appreciate the simplicity and interactivity provided by kiosk technologies. Organizations are seeing this shift and including kiosk technology in their digital transformation plans.”

Interestingly, the key business drivers for investing in kiosks are all about people, at least in the short term. According to the research, the primary motivator for businesses when investing in self-service technologies is customer and employee satisfaction, with 63 per cent of businesses identifying this as a top driver. This was particularly noted in the retail industry, where 90% of respondents said one of the main benefits they’re seeking from kiosks/self-technology is better customer flow.

“This research shows that organizations are looking for more than efficiency; they want to reduce customer wait times and improve the flow of people through stores and workplaces. Many are also looking to expand beyond transactional experiences to make kiosks part of an omnichannel infrastructure,” Collier says. “This also marks an important step forward for self-service technologies underscoring the shift away from thinking of kiosks as simply a cost and efficiency play – though both remain important drivers for buyers.”

The 2021 Canadian Kiosk Market Report is available here:

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