A vending machine specifically designed to be built into forecourt windows and outer walls and be merchandised from inside the store, has been launched by Shopfront Vending.

The company’s managing director, Michael Ison, said the key benefits of the Backloader unit include: the ability to sell shop items while closed; 24/7 availability – customers can buy when they want to; reduction of shrinkage of small, high-value items; elimination of the risk of late-night attacks on staff; no more lost sales from those who dislike queuing; and automated selling opportunities reduce staff overheads.

The Backloader can hold up to 60 selections and more than 1,000 products. It can also handle chilled food and fragile products. It has been designed to take up minimal internal space so its width is 100cm, depth 88cm and height 183cm. The unit weighs 350kg without stock, and uses high-security armoured glass at the front.

It can accept coins, notes and cards and will be able to take payment by mobile phone when that technology becomes available, which should be in the UK by 2006.

Shopfront Vending offers an installation service – including gaining planning permission, should that be required. A typical installation cost would be around £2,000, depending on the internals of the site. The machines cost around £5,000.

“We handle planning, building and installation and also offer a parts and maintenance service,” said Ison. “All forecourt retailers have to decide is what to put in there. They can sell a whole range of things from distress through to luxury or leisure items, and they can vary the offer throughout the year.”

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