Retailers may not generate enough transactions per month to make a free cash machine viable for the operator. Free machines are often busier and could make locations a destination shop, rather than a top-up shop.
The retailer could fill the machine themselves or have a security carrier fill it, which could cost more.
Store managers may either buy or rent the machine. They will commonly sign a contract lasting at least three years.
The best place to site a machine is by the door, where it attracts the most transactions. A standalone machine can be installed in a day. A more substantial wall-mounted unit may not take much longer.
Retailers filling machines with their own money commonly take the cash out at night and leave the machine open to show potential thieves that there's nothing to steal. If a bank owns the machine, it may recommend that the retailer install particular alarm systems or take steps to embed the machine into the shop floor.
The store manager can carry out top line maintenance on the machine, but a more complex fault may require an engineer. I would be surprised if that service wasn't offered free as part of the retail package.
If a retailer wants to install a cash machine, I would advise them to look on the internet, find a number of operators and call them. Be prepared to send information such as a map of the local area, shop footfall and a diagram of the store.
Adrian Page, group services trading controller, Nisa-Today's
Within the convenience store sector it's expected that unless you're in a high street location next to a bank, you should be considering offering a cash machine to consumers. If you go to the US, there's a machine on every street corner and in every c-store.
Retailers make money on machines by being paid a certain amount by the operator every month, possibly based on the amount they retain per transaction. They only need to be clocking up 400 transactions per month to make a self-fill cash machine viable.
It takes no more than half an hour per day for the retailer to fill it. A fully managed machine would probably require at least 800 transactions per month to make it viable. Machines cost about £50-£60 per month to rent or £2,000 to £2,500 to buy.
Some suppliers offer machines on a free placement and this is a relatively no-risk introduction into having a machine. Retailers commonly keep £1 of a £1.50 transaction charge, so they don't need many transactions to make them pay.
Of course, anyone offering this service must make sure that the machine is kept full, clean and in complete working order.
If a store down the road has a machine, a retailer shouldn't be afraid to install one, because they could still undercut the competition's transaction fee. Fees are partly negotiable with the supplier. I think anything above £1.50 would be too much.
Balbir Singh, retailer
I currently manage a Lifestyle Express convenience store in Blyth, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and I have had a cash machine installed inside my store for more than three years. I have been hiring it through Link, after having signed up to a five-year contract when one of the company's many field reps called by at the shop.
The machine that I rent is not free to use. It charges £1.50 per transaction. But that said, it gets a huge amount of use on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings, so I would be more than happy to hold on to it for the foreseeable future. The margin I make works out at about 5% of all the combined transaction fees.
Personally, I think that it is a good idea for an independent retailer to have a cash machine, whether or not it is a fee-charging one.
Certainly if the machine is empty, I have noticed that general takings at the till go down, but once the machine has been filled up with cash again, my sales begin to climb.
What's more, maintenance has never been a particularly major issue. You just telephone Link and it sends a representative round to visit and sort out any problems, often within half an hour of the call. In addition, I have found that I can get hold of the company fairly easily.