LCBO installs interactive kiosks

In the next six to eight weeks The Liquor Control Board of Ontario will take an interactive step towards greater customer service in four of its flagship stores.The lcbo, the provincial government's wines and spirits retailing near-monopoly, will install interactive, multimedia...

In the next six to eight weeks The Liquor Control Board of Ontario will take an interactive step towards greater customer service in four of its flagship stores.

The lcbo, the provincial government’s wines and spirits retailing near-monopoly, will install interactive, multimedia kiosks in two Toronto locations, another in Ottawa and a fourth in Kingston.

The first of the $15,000 kiosks was installed in a Toronto lcbo outlet last May.

Gord Anderson, vice-president of information technology at the lcbo, says because the kiosks can provide full video motion there is the potential they could run advertising.

But Anderson says, for now, the emphasis is on the kiosks providing enhanced customer service.

He says lcbo sales and product tracking data are compiled at the outlets’ cash registers using complex computer technology.

The kiosks, slightly larger than two four-drawer filing cabinets side by side, house a computer and work on the touch screen menu system.

Development

Dawna Henderson, an account representative at the Multiple Images Group in Toronto, says it took about a year to develop the kiosks for the lcbo.

Henderson says they have tracking utilities to collect data built into them, and it is technically possible to pare them down so they could be used in smaller lcbo outlets.

It was Henderson who thought of the kiosks after visiting a local liquor store.

After calling the lcbo with the idea, Henderson says she was surprised how fast it responded.

Customers can use the kiosks to match a wine or spirit from the lcbo’s lineup with a particular type of food.

The user indicates the type of drink preferred, the kind of meal to be served, and his or her price range. A list of suggested drinks then appears on the screen, which can also be printed out for future reference.

Also, a user can obtain or print out recipes using the kiosk’s touch screen, find out where in the store a particular wine or spirit is kept, and receive up-to-date information on such things as winery tours, lcbo permits, and inter-store service.

Anderson says the food/drink match is ‘overwhelmingly’ the most popular function of the kiosk that has been in use since May.

He says the kiosk, at Queen’s Quay on Toronto’s harborfront, gets 100 users a day.

Chris Layton, a media spokesman for the lcbo, says the most often asked question on the board’s toll-free information line is what drink goes with what meal.

As for the future of the first lcbo kiosks, Anderson says the first task is to increase the number of functions they can perform for customers.

One such function, he says, will let customers plan their way around the wine-producing Niagara region winery by winery.

Eventually, lcbo kiosks will be installed in the board’s top-selling 100 stores, which represent more than 50% of its sales.

Anderson says almost all these stores are in the Golden Horseshoe, the area surrounding Lake Ontario’s western end. DC