The Essentials of Managing Your Retail Kiosks


In recent years, self-service kiosks have proliferated into many aspects of our lives. However, there are often diverse challenges in managing a kiosk network. Apu Pavithran, founder and CEO of Hexnode, shares essential and best practices to keep in mind to successfully deploy and manage retail kiosks.

Earlier this year, a study done by Brandessence market research predicted that the kiosk market will grow at a CAGR of 4.8% and reach a staggering $38.52 billionOpens a new window by 2028.  

These gadgets come in a variety of sizes and designs and make it easy, whether we’re seeking a quick method to pay and leave at grocery checkouts, place an order at a fast-food restaurant, or utilize information terminals at railway stations, airports, conferences or events. Their inception into retail businesses has aided store owners in significantly cutting down the dreadfully long checkout queues, helped customers locate the products they are searching for, and in general, has proven to increase the overall customer experience and satisfaction. Yet, along with all its advantages, the path to deploying a kiosk network comes with its fair share of problems. So, let’s dig a little deeper.  

The Remote Paradigm 

Installation is usually the easiest part of the process when deploying a kiosk device. Once set up, these devices need to be customized according to the corresponding changes in the overarching business or even the individual store. Furthermore, depending on the operating system running on the endpoints, new OS updates and patches must be installed as and when they become available. Businesses with stores and outlets all over the country or even the globe will have hundreds and thousands of devices deployed. For such organizations, the remote nature of these devices makes accessibility a laborious task.  

Another significant challenge of such kiosk devices is that when they fail to perform as intended or present a glitch in their programs, they must be analyzed and the damage repaired. This means that the IT department would have to travel to each location to troubleshoot or fix them physically. Moreover, leaving broken or out-of-service kiosks leaves a negative impression on the brand, significantly affecting customer loyalty in the long run. Therefore, organizations must swiftly address any issue popping up with minimal latency. 

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The Ever-present Cyber Threat 

Cybercriminals do not discriminate. Irrespective of being businesses, individuals, humanitarian organizations or government entities, everyone is susceptible to a cyber-attack, and kiosks are no different. Comparing kiosk gadgets to their traditional counterparts reveals that they are intrinsically less secure. As a result, unless your network is protected, attackers might force their way in and access your systems and sensitive data. Moreover, through accessing your system, attackers could easily replace the content displayed on your devices and switch it with something that could damage your brand and reputation. Hence, a robust security architecture is mandatory when deploying a kiosk network.  

The Impediments to Progress 

The most significant advantage of self-service kiosks is that they are self-serviceable. Ironically, being unmanned establishes a few conundrums of its own. As with every new technology when introduced, there exists a certain cohort who find these products bothersome. Even a piece of technology designed to provide a better and seamless shopping experience could backfire if the customers cannot figure out how it works. However, on the other side of the spectrum, tech-savvy customers or even employees could take advantage of these unmonitored devices and comprise them or access data they aren’t meant to see.

Empowering IT 

The challenges associated with kiosk management necessitate that some form of amendments in architecture is imperative for organizations. But why a UEM instead of a simple kiosk management solution? An endpoint management strategy would empower the IT admins by providing the capabilities necessary to access, manage, customize and secure their kiosk devices regardless of location. A unified endpoint management strategy inherently has the capacity to include a comprehensive coverage of all the endpoints in a corporate network. This includes kiosk devices, mobile devices, PCs and even IoT devices. 

This holistic approach involves using a single solution for all the devices, significantly reducing the dependence on multiple solutions. The approach is not just limited to sealing off the endpoints. When it comes to kiosks specifically, it is necessary to have autonomy in their operations. Considering its proximity to the general public, if a kiosk strategy performs inadequately, the endpoint management solution must have the capabilities to refurbish and deploy the device for other uses.

Kiosk Management Lifecycle

A unified endpoint management strategy offers ample qualities that ensure granular access across various managed devices. Like any other SaaS application, a UEM solution too will be a part of the device lifecycle. Starting with provisioning, methods like zero-touch enrollment help admins remotely provision each device. 

Once enrolled, admins gain a plethora of options to configure the kiosks. While the kiosk configurations can lockdown devices into single-app to multi-app and web-based kiosks, the customization capabilities help tweak and personalize the endpoints to suit each organization’s characteristics. Additionally, this ensures that consumers won’t be able to change the kiosks’ pre-configured apps, even if they attempt to. Only your chosen application(s) continues to operate on the device, leaving no room for manipulation or abuse.

As businesses continue to tap into the potential of kiosks, they are even found in areas with higher footfalls. The more the number of devices, the more manual intervention required to update and manage these devices. An automated system to remotely push OS updates and patches significantly reduces downtime and allows admins to have a bird’s eye view of all the systems without having to check on it manually. App and OS vulnerabilities are a decisive gateway for attackers to enter the network. 

Therefore, businesses that regularly monitor system vulnerabilities and software versions are less likely to become targets of cyberattacks. Furthermore, On the security front, modern UEM systems aid businesses in installing several network security elements to offer an extra layer of protection. For example, businesses can set the kiosks with VPNs to guarantee an encrypted connection to the company servers. In addition to this, setting up a firewall would stop malicious access to a company’s networks. Furthermore, an endpoint management strategy that includes a robust mechanism to adhere to password policies and restrictions and continuous monitoring ensures a steady security posture.

Strengthen Your Kiosk Network

Kiosk devices are indeed a valuable asset for retail businesses. But as with any technology, challenges will arise and need to be addressed to keep your operations running smoothly. The goal is to ensure that an organization’s devices are secure and in compliance. To that extent, incorporating an endpoint management strategy into your security architecture will help reinforce and strengthen your kiosk network. 

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