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Kiosk for Pawn
By Steve Mack
In 1996 I had the opportunity to be a consultant for Wells Fargo Bank on a joint project with Cash America called “InnoVentry”. This experience has provided me with a unique insight into this $120 million-dollar development project creating the first ever Kiosk for Pawnshops. In 1996, I loved the concept. ATM’s had been around for 50 years at the time, and I was a believer. The Kiosk included multiple payments transaction types, including Check Cashing and Biometrics. I spent 2 years on the project, and it failed miserably.
The Kiosk was recently re-introduced in American Jewelry and Pawn. This kiosk relaunch is the brainchild of Seth Gold. He and his father are operators extraordinaire. As a longtime fan of their show, SuperPawn operator, and for the last 10 years analyst of pawnshops in 48 States and 5 countries the Gold’s operation is as unique as it gets. Their store is jampacked with people, waiting in line, with a secure-barrier trapped/behind glass Loan Counter. Their instore transaction is limited.
- Cost per Kiosk annually can run $3k to $12k per year. https://www.atmexperts.com/atm_machine_buyers_guide.html
- Opening and Closing each day is time consuming. Every morning and evening the device needs to be reconciled and refilled with cash, coin, and paper receipt products.
- Trouble shooting hardware expertise and training is required.
- Everchanging currency standards require upgraded hardware in order to detect counterfeits.
- Special Battery backup, connectivity, and surveillance is recommended.
- Periodic Maintenance is required by 3rd
Benefits of Kiosk
- High risk locations where pawn personnel are behind security barriers put their employees at less risk.
- High volume locations where operator queues customers in waiting lines are freed up by not having to complete these simple transactions.
- Eliminates need for excess employees.
- offers convenience to overcome frustration for in-store customers when waiting for an associate.
Customers and Kiosk
- New Kiosk introduction requires customer education on correct usage. The same as supervisor oversight at grocery store self-checkout.
- Outdoor kiosk’s theoretically offer after-hours convenience. But is also at risk for damage and theft.
- Traditional pawn customers traveling to brick-and-mortar to use kiosks are generally less than 10% of entire customer-base.
As stated in the kiosk’s press release, the functions are “renew loans, make layaway payments and pick up items in pawn”.
- “Renew Loans” – This function is primarily consistent in United States and in most cases requires a new pawn ticket and signature from the pawn customer. Additional associate interaction is required to complete this transaction.
- “Lay-Away Payments” – This is the most retail-centric non-pawn transaction, and generally is a high functioning transaction. Thumbs up. But customers hate making Lay-Away payments in store.
- “Picking up items in Pawn” – This sounds like a redemption and I am having a hard time seeing a customer having to wait in line to pay at the kiosk, and then wait in another line to pick up the item being a value for both customer and operator. If it could spit out a Flat Screen, that would be something.
Kiosk vs Mobile
Today the Mobile Phone is in every customers hand. It has become a device that empowers consumers to remotely access all the services they would get in your store. Mobile transactions come at a lower cost to pawnbrokers, and lower the cost to consumers, while offering 24/7 convenience. Consumers today are using their mobile phone in your store to shop and compare pricing across the board. The reliance of your customer to physically come to your store to transact is over, and to use a kiosk in your store feels outdated to today’s technology.
The kiosk was a concept that came out before the internet. At the time, it was breathtaking remote technology offering convenience for customers. Today, even bank kiosk use is dramatically down and continually declining thanks to mobile apps. In todays market, a customer who comes all the way into your brick-mortar store is there for face-to-face service. Forcing that customer to wait in a line and use a screen will quickly create friction and disinterest.