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The Global Kiosk solution transforms Saudi Arabia’s music and movie retailing

storeZonik and Eagle Eye Technology have worked together to break new ground in Saudi Arabia. The Global Kiosk solution is in every one of the Zonik Stores in Saudi Arabia and allows customers to buy movies and music from a catalogue of thousands of products and watch or listen to them on the go.

Zonik is part of the renowned Al-Fozan Group, one of Saudi Arabia’s leading companies. The award winning Zonik concept stores sell a selected assortment of mid to high-end products ranging from computers and peripherals, audio-video equipments, multimedia entertainment titles, digital downloads, digital equipment and mobile phones.

In 2008 Zonik announced to the world the successful rollout out of the Global Kiosk system. Working with Eagle Eye Technology, Global Kiosk allowed Zonik to become the first retail environment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to sell digital entertainment content through in store kiosks.

Over a year later and even though the hardware remains the same, the solution is going from strength to strength. Even now, the next generation of the kiosk software is being rolled out behind the scenes to all Zonik stores.

Before these kiosks, the only way the majority of people in Saudi Arabia could get music and films was via traditional DVD and CD Sales purchases and through limited access to a comparatively slow internet.

Then in 2007 Zonik selected Eagle Eye Technology to help change the market. The concept was simple, give the people fast and easy access to a vast array of digital content and market the solution so that it drives footfall into their Zonik stores.

Working for Zonik, Eagle Eye Technology worked to create a state of the art touch-screen kiosk solution incorporating a fully branded customer facing kiosk application and an administration suite of tools that allows managed distribution of the content throughout the geographically diverse kiosk estate.

The first generation of kiosks allowed intuitive browsing and purchasing of the latest releases of movies and albums along with a strong back catalogue of digital content supplied by major international record labels and movie studios and local content suppliers.

The next generation of kiosk software has support for additional advertising management, video screen savers, multiple language support and multiple currencies. It also has the ability for a vendor to choose an existing design for the customer facing front end, which they can then tailor to their needs. This decreases the time from development to store.

Replacing hardware is expensive. A key requirement of the kiosk’s software, the heart and brain of the system, is that it should be able to run on a standard set of hardware, which allows for more cost effective support of the system and opens the field out when looking at new kiosk suppliers. Currently there are three different hardware types, from two different manufacturers, supported in the field. This has allowed Zonik to build elaborate kiosks, the body of the system, which blend into the surroundings in their futuristic looking stores.

man-1The kiosks were immediately popular; with individuals able to enter the shop with their MP3 player or phone in their pocket and walk out listening to their new purchase. As Zonik also sells hardware, it meant that customers could buy new MP3 players, USB sticks and mobile phones and load them up with content before leaving the store. A key function of the kiosks was to allow compatibility with multiple devices. There are literally thousands of devices people carry with them that can play or store MP3s. The challenge was therefore connecting the kiosks to the device to transfer the content. By incorporating Bluetooth, mini USB, USB, memory card support and iPod support into the system, almost every device on the market was supported. Where a device was not supported, a customer could always choose to purchase music and burn it to a physical Music CD.

Choice was also very important. It was decided that these kiosks should sell the newest and best films and albums as well as a strong back catalogue of international and local music. The introduction of one of these kiosks meant that the Zonik store instantly had a larger catalogue of music than any of the other local music stores.

With the relationship that Zonik have with several Content suppliers (local and international), there was a need to run an efficient feed for content ingestion. Eagle Eye Technology created a single platform that automatically receives and ingests content into the system so that content could be accepted at any time of day or night.

Once in the system the administration system allowed re-categorisation of products, creation of product specific advertising on the kiosk and management of consumer charts. Product and artist spotlight pages allowed for additional commentary on the product or artist to be displayed to the consumer, providing more information to better engage with them.

Speed of download was also a major challenge. Downloading content from a central server in Saudi Arabia when the customer is a few hundred miles away standing at a kiosk was impractical. Eagle Eye Technology came up with an innovative way of ensuring that the customer would only have to wait a few seconds for the kiosk to be ready to copy the content onto their device.

The system currently supports the purchase and download of MP3s, DMRd WMA and WMV files. The system also allows the customer to view film trailers and listen to previews of the music on the system. DMRd content can either be taken home and when loaded onto a PC with internet access, played after the downloading of the licence file specific to that purchase, or it can be played immediately if it is downloaded on to a PlaysForSure device, which has the ability to support Windows DRM licences on the device itself.

In the ever-changing world of digital content, the solution needs to be managed centrally, with as few reasons to actually send an engineer to a kiosk as possible. All new content that is ingested into the system will automatically be on sale and ready to download within 24 hours. The content can also be managed so that specific products are not sold at specific stores and products can be withdrawn from sale within a matter of hours.

The Global Kiosk is the kiosk software of choice for any retail environment, supporting thousands of devices and content from all the major labels. The customer interface is fast and intuitive and can be dressed with your branding. Zonik has taken Digital Downloads into the heart of their stores, where it is thriving. It is driving footfall and shows no signs of slowing down in the near future.