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What is a Kiosk Terminal?

A kiosk terminal is a standalone device designed for public use that provides self-service access to information, services, or transactions. Often equipped with a touchscreen interface, it streamlines processes like ticket sales, check-ins, or informational queries. Curious about how kiosk terminals are revolutionizing customer service? Dive deeper into their transformative impact on our daily interactions.
Dorothy Distefano
Dorothy Distefano

A kiosk terminal is an independent, free-standing, self-service device that is used to provide a service or sell merchandise to customers. Kiosks are usually located in common areas, such as retail stores, shopping malls, banks, and many other public locations. They provide convenience to customers and reduced labor costs for retailers. Convenience and cost are the primary benefits of using one.

A successful kiosk terminal should have an interface that is easy-to-use, flexible, and provide a product or service at low cost, with minimal wait time. It should also provide the customer with a positive user experience to create a high level of satisfaction and incentive to return in the future. For example, the ability to reserve movies using redbox™ DVD kiosks allows customers to obtain DVDs quickly and efficiently and at lower cost than other rental options.

ATMs allow customers to quickly withdraw cash.
ATMs allow customers to quickly withdraw cash.

One of the most important features of a kiosk terminal is the user interface. Because the customer interacts solely with the equipment, as there is no salesperson present, this interface must be visually appealing, simple to use, and interactive. Many new kiosks have interactive touch-screen displays that prompt users through the menus, and help them make selections.

Kiosks at a shopping mall might provide information about retail stores.
Kiosks at a shopping mall might provide information about retail stores.

The equipment inside a kiosk terminal will vary based on the product or service being provided. For example, a kiosk terminal for creating photographic prints, such as the Kodak® Picture Kiosk, requires a computer, display, a series of printers, and a decorative cabinet to house the devices and attract customers. Another kiosk — such as a redbox™ unit, which uses electromechanical equipment that can store and retrieve recorded discs — calls for different, specialized equipment.

Customers may use an ATM kiosk terminal to make deposits.
Customers may use an ATM kiosk terminal to make deposits.

Kiosks are used today for a number of different products and services and their popularity is growing. One of the oldest and most common types of kiosk is the automated teller machine (ATM). An ATM provides banking customers the opportunity to complete banking transactions without the need to enter a bank. Customers can make deposits, withdrawals, and fund transfers using the ATM.

Most of today’s kiosk terminals have network capability and are connected to a central location, and each other, via the Internet. This allows them to be monitored remotely and provides customer service representatives a way to address and troubleshoot equipment problems as needed. Some kiosks even include a telephone that can be used to contact a customer service representative in the event of problems. A kiosk will most often accept a credit card as a form of payment, and in some cases can even accept cash.

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Discussion Comments


I think kiosk terminals are pretty cool just because they offer a lot of new avenues for creating small businesses. As the article said, those kiosks that allow you to rent DVD's are very successful. They're usually in a convenient location and very easy to use.

I think in the future, there's going to be more opportunities like that for starting businesses. For example, I've recently noticed that some places have coffee kiosks where you order and pay for coffee and the machine makes it and gives it to you, with no human staff needed.


@ceilingcat - I'm the complete opposite. I would rather talk to a person every time. Plus, kiosk terminals can break, and that can turn into a huge, huge ordeal.

I used to be a waitress, so I would just go get money orders to pay my bills instead of taking money to the bank and then writing a check. I used to use an ATM kiosk in a local store that would print money order up also. You would put in how much you wanted the money order for, put your cash in, and then it would spit the money order out.

However, one day when I was using it, it broke down after I had put my money in. I had to go through a huge hassle with the store management to get my cash back. I haven't used any kind of kiosk terminal since then.


I'm sorry to say this, but I am just not a people person. I especially hate interacting with people when I'm running errands. I always get the chatty cashier that wants to spend the whole time talking to me about nothing and asking me questions.

So, if there is a self service kiosk for whatever I'm trying to do, I will definitely take that option every time. I use the ATM at the bank instead of going in and I always buy movie tickets at the kiosk instead of standing inline and talking to a cashier. I also love self-checkout terminals in grocery stores.

I can only hope that more things will go to self service kiosks in the future!

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    • ATMs allow customers to quickly withdraw cash.
      By: meryll
      ATMs allow customers to quickly withdraw cash.
    • Kiosks at a shopping mall might provide information about retail stores.
      By: Photocreo Bednarek
      Kiosks at a shopping mall might provide information about retail stores.
    • Customers may use an ATM kiosk terminal to make deposits.
      By: kritchanut
      Customers may use an ATM kiosk terminal to make deposits.