Customer-facing kiosks: Successes and pitfalls

If done right, they can help improve customer satisfaction with minimal IT investment.

Travelers on commuter rail systems sometimes have to wait long periods of time for the next available train. So it would seem to be the perfect opportunity for them to do some errands -- food shopping, for instance.

It's simple enough. They walk up to a special advertising panel on the train platform, take out their Apple or Android mobile device and download the Peapod mobile app. They can then browse virtual aisles of groceries and produce, scan the barcodes below the images of the items they want and, finally, place and pay for their order -- all online. Their items will be delivered the next day.

Ordering groceries on the way home has never been so easy.

Last year 15 commuter rail stations in Massachusetts became part of a national pilot program to test virtual stores for the food delivery company Peapod, which is owned by grocery chain Stop & Shop. Six other states are also part of the program, which was inspired by an experimental kiosk program by Tesco, in Great Britain.

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