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Market Research for the Self Service Industry

written by: Vikas Vij•edited by: Jean Scheid•updated: 12/2/2010

Looking for the next stage in retail revolution after the success of online commerce? Market research for the self service industry can offer up some crucial answers for the future.

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    Why Is Market Research for the Self Service Industry Necessary?

    Self Service Industry Market Research The self service industry includes all kinds of kiosks, vending machines and other hardware devices that permit the consumer to perform a purchase transaction or another operation on his own. The self service industry minimizes the need for human assistance wherever possible in terms of retail transactions. Market research for the self service industry is important to determine what kind of products and services can become a part of this industry, and what type of market segments are more receptive to the concept of self service.

    Determining the Market Size

    The foremost task for market researchers with regard to the self service industry is to draw a fair estimate of the market size for self service products and services. This industry has seen revolutionary success in services such as Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) that enable a user to withdraw cash from his bank account without the need for human assistance. Similarly, a variety of manned ticketing counters at several public places have been replaced with computerized kiosks where the user can purchase a ticket without human assistance. However, the key question is that beyond a handful of basic services, is there a market for a broader range of goods and services that could be sold or provided with the assistance of computerized or robotic devices instead of human assistance. This requires in-depth market research about how the consumers would respond to such a paradigm shift.

    Identifying Products and Services

    Market research for the self service businesses must classify one set of goods and services for the end-consumers and another for the business users. This requires extensive research regarding technological developments at one end, which would reveal what kind of self service software and hardware devices can be available, and evaluating the comfort level and needs of consumers and businesses at the other end. Wherever there is a match between the technological capability and the market needs, such products and services can be identified as the future for the self service industry.

    How to Conduct Market Research for Self Service Industry

    Depending on the size and scale of the business, the entrepreneur may opt for primary or secondary sources to collect necessary data. If it is single self-service kiosk, primary data collection is a better idea. It is important to estimate how many competing kiosks of the same category are already installed in the target area. Secondly, the average footfall or traffic of potential customers in the area must be estimated. Some actual kiosk customers can be interviewed regarding their needs for a self service kiosk in the area. Physical observation data can be collected about a particular kiosk which may indicate how many customers use the kiosk on an average day. If the business is planned on a larger scale with multiple kiosk sites, it may be a good idea to obtain ready figures and estimates about the industry through professional secondary data sources such as private data selling companies.

    Market Research Tools

    In-depth interviews with software and hardware developers who are already supporting the self service industry are likely to provide some insights about the future possibilities that exist for the expansion of the scope of this industry. The second important research tool is questionnaires that can be used to evaluate the underlying needs of the market and the consumer’s acceptance level for an automated way to perform various physical transactions. The questionnaires must be designed comprehensively and the responses can be sought by mail or through online means. Some incentive may be included for the respondents in order to elicit a more enthusiastic response to the study.

    The aim of the study must be to identify the key market drivers that are expected to widen the scope of this industry and replicate the success of ATMs and soft drink and coffee vending machines. Electronic ticket dispensers to sell movie tickets or lottery tickets, electronic bill payment and check deposit kiosks, and DVD movie rental kiosks are also increasingly popular options that have raised anticipations about a bigger future for this industry.

    Photo Credit: www.sxc.hu Bongani