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With profits of up to 75% available, cold drinks machines can be a brilliant way to make your store stand out. Priyanka Jethwa rounds up all the information you need before buying your own machine
A slush, juice and ice-blast machine is one of the most effective ways of increasing soft drinks sales and margin in the category. With profit margins of 75% typically available, tempting customers with a slush rather than a can or bottled soft drink will increase a retailer’s profitability and popularity.
Peter Campbell, sales director at Snowshock, says the appeal for slush machines remains as strong today as when they first arrived in the UK in the 1970s.
“The high-quality machines are worlds apart from the old ‘one suck and the colour is gone’ type, and provide all-year-round sales. Quality is the key separating factor between consistent, high-selling slush drinks and cheap novelty slushes whose sales simply fade away,” he adds.
Campbell stresses that for independent retailers, it is crucial that they keep machines maintained – this means clean and attractive.
“Slush machines provide an irresistible showcase for the product. They should be shiny, clean and in a prominent position for all to see,” he says. “The margins are massive, so it deserves your best retailing expertise to push its sales.”
The majority of retailers will sell slush all year round, and while sales will dip in the winter months, this doesn’t mean it will completely stop selling, especially if you introduce it as a new product – initial sales can be jaw dropping whatever time of the year.
Ferhan Ashiq, who runs Day-Today Ashiqs in Prestonpans, East Lothian, says when he first installed Skwishee, an ice-blast machine, he made £890 in the first week, £620 in the second and £550 in the third – a figure that it has now levelled out at. He explains: “In the soft drinks category, it is my number one and two bestseller. It did cause sales of other soft drinks to decrease a little – I was doing £1,500 and now I’m doing £1,200, but, overall, profit has gone up across total soft drinks.”
Similarly, Aman Uppal, of One Stop Mount Nod in Coventry, recently installed a Tango Ice Blast machine after seeing the success of it on social media.
“We had a Slush Puppie machine for three years, but over the past year, when going to the cinema, I noticed a lot of interest in the Tango Ice Blast machine. I also saw it getting a lot of coverage on social media.
“Although the cost of running the machine is high, the margins are fantastic, so it offsets itself and advertising it on social media went brilliantly. We had 17,000 views on the post, which enabled our shop to get more footfall and recognition. We were the only store in Coventry that had the machine and I tailored Google so if you searched ‘Coventry ice blast’, we appeared in the top three searches,” he adds.
To make it easier for those retailers looking to get a slice of the action this summer, we’ve compared three of the bestselling machines available – from size and margins to flavours – to make it easier for you to decide what machine is right for your store.
What support does Skwishee offer independent retailers?
Slush has been around for years and more retailers are tapping into the trend as they discover its benefits. We’ve seen those retailers who have taken on our machine grow sales by 2,500% year on year – it’s a completely different playing field and there isn’t anything like it on the market.
From our perspective, we don’t define ourselves as offering a standard slush machine, but an ice-blast machine – our aim was to disrupt the scene by launching a sugar-free fizzy ice-blast drink.
What marketing support do you provide?
We’re independent retailers ourselves, so we sell through word of mouth. We were only going to invest in a machine that our customers wanted, and that has always been our main focus. If you look at our social media, it isn’t aimed at retailers, but at their shoppers. This helps build brand presence.
For retailers who have a machine, we provide social media marketing assistance – this includes videos, graphics and images – and we encourage all retailers to take advantage of it as it’s free marketing for them.
What incentives do you offer retailers and their shoppers?
We regularly host Skwishee Days where shoppers can bring in their own cups – as large as they want – and fill it up for free. There are no strings attached and we fully fund it. It’s about being as fun as possible and engaging with them. We then get consumers to post their pictures on social media, and we award a prize to the best image.
We have run this in a few stores as a trial and saw sales increase by 60-100% overall – the best part is that it doesn’t cost the retailer anything.
The flavours available also constantly change – at the moment we have Mad Mango, Millions Sour Strawberry, Sour Apple, Frozen Raspberry, Grapes of the Caribbean and Pink Fizzle, all of which are fizzy. We also have a range of edible straws in Lemon & Lime, Strawberry and Apple flavours.
We give retailers guidance as to what to stock – depending on what we are currently pushing and putting marketing investment behind.
The right machine for your store
Harris Aslam, director, Skwishee
What we do
We’re an ice-blast machine company and provide sugar-free fizzy ice drinks. We’re in around 40 sites at the moment and expect that figure to grow to 150 in the coming weeks.
Costs and financing
The rental model costs £150 (plus VAT) per month and it covers maintenance and servicing. Margins available on the drinks are around 64%. It costs £2.99 for a large cup and £1.99 for regular one.
The machine itself is 0.9m in depth, 1m wide and 2.1m in height. It’s a bright blue machine that stands out in store, so you can trust that shoppers won’t miss it, and we advise retailers to place it at the front and make sure the flavours and straws don’t run out.
iSqueeze (8000 juicer)
Archie Sinclair, director, iSqueeze
What we do
Consumers have concerns about the health aspect of slush and therefore there has been a tremendous growth in fresh orange juice machines. Notably, Spar, Nisa and Eurogarages are giving customers this option more so than others.
We provide a complete service, which means we will install the machine as well as provide the bottles and the oranges. Full training is given to staff at installation, and our UK-wide technicians are on hand to support retailers.
Costs and financing
iSqueeze rents, leases and sells the juicers. Contract hire is by far the most favoured route since it covers all parts and servicing, with prices from as little as £99 a month.
Our smallest unit is only 24cm wide, perfect for those starting off or with limited space in store, and depending on location, our retailers can gain more than 70% gross profit. We’d encourage retailers to also display ready-made juices as well, seeing as some customers will just want to grab and go.
Mark Trigg, sales and marketing director, Fizz Bang
What we do
We provide equipment, products and maintenance. All our products fall under the sugar tax threshold, use natural flavourings and contain no artificial dyes.
Costs and financing
We sell machines and also lease/finance them over three years. Purchase costs vary from £750 for a single-bowl machine up to £2,460 for a three-bowl high-capacity machine. Some of our machines are also designed to dispense milkshake, ice cream and frozen yoghurt, so a customer can dispense multiple products from one unit.
A typical twin-bowl is 40cm in width, 50cm in diameter and 71cm in height, weighing 45kg. We offer flavours including Strawberry, Raspberry, Lemon & Lime, Watermelon Cocktails, Blue Lagoon, Margarita, Mojito, Passionfruit Martini and Strawberry Daiquiri. Margins of up to 80% are available and, as best practice, we advise retailers to make sure the machine is kept clean, well presented and in a prominent position that is easily visible to customers.