From coffee machines to fake note detectors, ever-emerging new machines, technology and services provide a host of solutions for retailers to save money and time, and generate profit. Nikki Allen has talked to suppliers and retailers to bring you seven of the most helpful devices available for independent retailers.

1. ATMs

Londis-Havant---Card-in-ATM-machine
90% of people access cash from ATMs

According to a survey published by Citizens Advice Bureau, cash machines are the most popular and frequently-used method of accessing cash, with 90% of survey respondents saying they access cash from ATMs. So for con- venience retailers, the ability to offer this service can lead to a major boost in footfall, sales and profits, say ATM suppliers.

“Communities really value the services provided by their local convenience stores and one of the most important of such services is offering reliable access to cash,” says Ron Delnevo, managing director of Bank Machine.

With this in mind, manufacturers have unveiled several innovations to improve their service to retailers and consumers, including the introduction of £5 ATMs by Bank Machine and the launch of an “extranet” service by InfoCash to allow retailers to monitor cash machines remotely.

Choosing the right machine from the wide range of free, fee-charging, self-fill and fully-managed options is vital, not least because the CAB survey also revealed that only 3% of today’s cash-strapped ATM users usually use fee-charging machines.

Retailers Roy and Mary Bird of Londis in Havant chose Cashzone as their ATM sup- plier. “Giving our customers convenient access to cash was the best, risk-free busi- ness decision we have made for the shop,” says Mr Bird. “Cashzone has provided a compact, reliable machine so we can offer a dependable service to the community.”

2. Fake note detectors

Paul Manning of Manning Supermarkets in Rochdale was having problems with fake notes at his two stores and introduced a forged-note detector machine. “This not only prevented us from taking forged notes, but because people know we have this in our stores, they don’t even try and pass them over any longer,” he says.

Dave Critchley, managing director of Anglo-Tech, highlights the company’s Check A Note forgery detectors as a suitable option for local stores and says installing this machine has saved independent retailers from taking thousands of pounds in fake English notes – as well as Scottish, Irish and Euro currencies too.

“We also have a full range of other forgery detectors from just £1.95 to £200 to suit all applications and all budgets that independent retailers may be working with,” he says.

3. Coffee Machines

costaImprovements in equipment mean that retailers can now offer their shoppers hot drinks of equal quality to coffee shop products by installing hot beverage machines in their stores. At this year’s Pro-retail show, for example, Nestlé Professional and Tchibo had the latest options for convenience stores on display to encourage retailers to cash in with this service.

A typical machine might generate over £35,000 in revenue for a good volume lo- cation, says Scott Martin, Costa Express chief executive. “Self-service coffee bars are a fantastic way to demonstrate customer care and create new revenue streams at the same time,” he says.

Retailer Paul Cheema installed a hot beverage machine through Country Choice and says he hasn’t regretted it. “We sell an average of 40 cups a day and it’s interesting to see how the choices vary over the course of the day. In the morning lattes are very popular and then in the evening hot chocolate sells well with the local kids,” he says.

4. Payment terminals

Love them or hate them, payment terminals guarantee footfall and sales and allow retailers to offer a range of invaluable services.

Commission rates remain unacceptably low on many payments, and retailers report that contracts with certain suppliers are overly-restrictive. But a growth in the services available through these machines is going some way to offsetting these problems and earning retailers extra income.

5. Cash-counting machines

Century-hi-res-openCounting notes is a hugely time0consuming activity – and investing in a counting machine could free up your time at the end of the day to focus on more profitable activities, says a spokes- man from Safescan.

“Our money counting machines count notes quicker than the most experienced employee and they can also be provided with advanced coun- terfeit money detection,” he says. “Plus, many money counting machines have practical adding up and exact change functions.”

6. The contactless payment system

According to the UK Cards Association, there are over 36 million contactless cards in the UK. “Low-value transactions have been gradually moving from cash to card,” says association chair Melanie Johnson.

“Contactless cards attract the same level of protection as traditional plastic cards and certainly provide much more convenience and protection than traditional payment meth- ods such as cash or cheque,” she says.

Sunder Sandher of Londis in Warwickshire and Oxford has seen an increase in contactless payments from his younger customers in particular. “We have it in both of our stores and it’s quite popular with students,” he says.

7. Security safes