Bridging the gap

Some bricks-and-mortar retailers aren't satisfied hosting a Web site. They're bringing the Internet - or something close to it - into their stores with digital kiosks.

"It gives you some of that e-commerce convenience that you find at home," says Tim Peterson, director of kiosk marketing worldwide for NCR Corp.

The Dayton, Ohio, company has put kiosks in Boscov's department stores, a family-owned East Coast chain based in Reading, Pa. NCR is also rolling out the program in some 400 Service Merchandise locations.

By putting their catalog online, stores can get customers to buy products even if they're not stocked locally. The idea works especially nicely for gift orders, where items are usually shipped to a third person anyway.

Consumers appear ready for an explosion of electronic kiosks. When KPMG and Indiana University's Center for Education and Research in Retailing surveyed some 2,400 consumers last year, they found in-store kiosks rated far higher among shoppers than did Web sites. The survey said 3 out of 5 consumers said they'd more likely shop at a store equipped with kiosks.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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