ATMs are popping up everywhere these days – the local c-store, the off-licence and even the post office. And it’s no wonder – the closure of many high-street banks and their hole-in-the-wall facilities has prompted a huge demand for local cash dispensers, while innovation of the types of machines available means there’s now a model to suit almost every type of convenience outlet. Even recent warnings about ATM security seem to just drive customers to use machines in locations perceived as more ‘secure’ than those on the high street.
Little wonder then that forecourts are proving ideal sites for cash dispensers. “Forecourt customers now almost expect to find an ATM on the premises,” says Benoit Mes, managing director of ATM provider Omnicash, adding that forecourts are currently a key market for ATM suppliers.
ATMs are particularly suited to those sites with an emphasis on convenience retailing, as one of the biggest advantages to the retailer of having an ATM is the increased spend in the shop.
Not only will an ATM attract more customers to your site in the first place, but statistics from Harris International’s Convenience Tracking Programme show that in forecourts the average shopper will spend £4.26 in the shop, while an ATM user will spend an average of £4.71. It also says these results could be even better if cash machines were flagged up more prominently, as on forecourts 44% of shoppers were unaware that a cash machine was available.
ATMs offer retailers other benefits too, of course, including a share of the convenience fee (often set by the retailer), an increase in footfall and turnover, a reduction in bank charges through recycling the day’s takings, a reduction of credit card charges and increased customer loyalty.
Helen Hine, product manager, cash machines for Alliance & Leicester, explains: “By installing one of our ATMs, retailers can earn commission on transactions, giving them an additional source of income. It also enables retailers to offer a real additional benefit to regular customers and potentially gain new customers – which could lead to impulse purchases and greater income.”
And Helen Bulford, manageress at Vale Motor Centre in Evesham, says although many benefits are difficult to quantify, having an ATM has boosted business: “We have a ‘pod’ style Moneybox ATM outside which is a real additional service for our customers as there is nowhere else locally for them to get cash from – we average around 700 transactions a month and receive a quarterly commission from Moneybox. Obviously it’s very difficult to tell if people spend more once they’ve taken money out or whether they come to the site specifically for the ATM, but having the cash machine has definitely helped the business, and because ours is fully managed it’s no hassle for me.”
In order to get the maximum profit from your ATM, it is important to choose a terminal that fits your business type. The ATM provider should be happy to help you with this by visiting your site and assessing its suitability for the service, then offering advice on the type of machine to choose for maximum return.
Jayne Burrage, head of marketing at ATM provider Moneybox, explains that this process benefits both parties, as many providers make their money by taking a share of the convenience fee: “Our stringent site selection process ensures that we avoid placing an ATM where it is not going to be profitable for the site host or ourselves,” she says. “The criteria is based on site footfall or turnover as well as the nearest competing source of cash, for example the nearest ATM. Cash drivers, such as take-aways, pubs etc in the area are also important.”
And Benoit Mes says: “Omnicash prefers to visit all sites and recommend what solution is best suited to each individual forecourt – we review the security aspect, the ATM location within the business, making sure the ATM will fulfil expectations to the merchant.”
So will ATM installation be disruptive to your business? It depends on the type of machine chosen – many of the smaller dispensers simply require a phone line and an electricity supply, while hole-in-the wall options need purpose-built housing.
David Hopkins, senior sales executive at InfoCash, says his company is careful to minimise any disruption: “InfoCash has its own team of engineers who would not only install a machine on site (in less than two hours with minimal disruption) but also provide full training for all staff who will be maintaining the ATM. This would enable them to manage their ATM on a day-to-day basis. Placed in the right location the consumer can begin to earn profit from the first day of installation.”
Vale Motor Centre’s Heather Bulford points out that any retailers who change from an internal machine to an external one should insist that they are not left without an ATM in the interim. “We decided that because we open from 7am to 10pm it would be more convenient for our customers to have a 24-hour ATM outside. Moneybox was very good in that they organised it all and they had engineers here every day, but they took the old machine away before the other one was up and running and we were left without any ATM at all for nearly two weeks and we had a lot of customers complaints as a result, so other retailers in the same position should be warned.”
Providers should also offer an after-sales service, such as a technical support line or even remote ATM monitoring, so make sure you’ll be getting adequate support before you sign up.
As technology advances, all sorts of additional features are being added to ATMs – most recently advertising facilities and mobile phone e-top-ups.
Moneybox, for example, says it is pioneering ATM advertising whereby the ATM screen can be used for advertising products or special offers in the shop. “The receipt and/or voucher dispensed from an additional cassette can be used to endorse the offer on the screen or can be used as an instantly redeemable money-off voucher in store,” explains Burrage.
And InfoCash’s Hopkins says: “The ATM offers more than just the facility to offer cash withdrawal and balance enquiries. InfoCash is able to set up and run vouchers through the ATM. We can also customise the machine to offer advertising through the high-topper and through panels surrounding the ATM. In time we will also offer top-ups.”
However, Ominicash’s Mes says retailers should think carefully about the impact additional services may have on their established business: “Omnicash has not activated the e-top-up feature on our ATMs as our research has shown that the retailers have other e-top-up devices where they can earn more than from an e-top-up at the ATM, or the retailers do not want a queue forming at the ATM – anybody who gets impatient will leave the queue and not withdraw cash (loss of share of surcharge to the retailer) and will most likely not buy anything else in the location.”