An increasing number of operators, bulk vendors among them, are looking at self-service coin-counting kiosks to help them maximize location real estate. The vending concept, which launched service giant Coinstar Inc., is now gaining traction with small and midsize operators.
Industry experts point out that coin-counting kiosks are a natural extension of the diversification trend that prompted traditional bulk vending operators to add skill cranes, prize merchandisers and even jukeboxes to their equipment portfolios over the past few years. The development, according to one operator, is akin to the deployment of ATMs by nonbank, independent service organizations.
The only question seems to be: What took them so long to discover coin-counting services?
Cummins-Allison (Mt. Prospect, IL), best known for its wide range of "backroom" currency- and coin-handling equipment, is a leading supplier of self-service, coin-counting kiosks. The company's Wayne Stellmach told VT that sales of its self-service machines are picking up. "Major retail chains have adopted this from the get-go, but now we're starting to see a lot of small to midsize stores and independent operators install the kiosks, partially to keep pace with the major chains," he said. "They're saying it's a competitive disadvantage if they don't have a change machine. At the same time, they are recognizing the traffic building and revenue potential of these machines. These operators see them in so many stores that they're asking, 'What if I got one of those?"
The machines, of course, are not cheap compared to typical bulk vending equipment. However, with a standard 8.9% processing fee long established by Coinstar, the return on investment can be quick in the right high-traffic location. The machines also provide significant added value for the location: They give customers a reason to visit the location for the specific purpose of converting loose change to paper currency, which they might also decide to spend in the store.
According to Coinstar's calculations, the average U.S. household has approximately $90 in change on hand at any given time, while 81% of the consumers using the company's machines reported making a special trip to the retail location to use the service.
LEADER IN THE FIELD
Cummins-Allison has more than 120 years of experience in manufacturing money-handling products for vending, financial, gaming and retail markets. For the past six years, it has applied that experience to the development of consumer coin-counting products. The firm produces two models of self-service, coin-counting kiosks.
"We offer PC-based or non-PC-based machines," Stellmach said. "We also have a remote management option, so operators of multiple machines can track the use and status of all their kiosks from a desktop computer."
The Money Machine ($20K base price) is Cummins-Allison's top-of th- line counter. It measures, 56" H. by 27" W. by 29" D., counts up to 4,100 coins a minute and has an adjustable transaction fee feature. The machine stores up to 65,000 transactions in memory, accessible on the unit's display or on a report printout -- or via Internet with the remote management option. The device's color screen can display video or static marketing messages by using an optional onscreen advertising feature. It also allows operators to program up to four lines of text on the customer's printed receipt and a company logo.
The Money Machine can be operated with a choice of a secure high-capacity bin that collects up to 58,000 mixed coins or sorted bags with a top capacity of 12 high-volume bags. The bin or bag decision, Stellmach noted, is no small thing. While a bin unit provides less machine downtime due to full-coin situations, a full container weighs several hundred pounds and requires a liftgate to load into a route vehicle.
Cummins-Allison also offers the lower-priced JetCoin ($13K base). It can count up to 6,500 coins a minute or up to 10,000 with an optional speed kit. It can run with sorted or mixed bags, or single or dual bins. The 52"-tall machine varies in width and depth, measuring 26" W. by 24" D. to 38" W. by 31" D.
Some JetCoin models support Cummins-Allison's new FastPay option. The add-on, which side mounts on the machine, dispenses bills and coins directly to the consumer, eliminating the need to redeem a receipt at the cashier's station. The company plans to offer FastPay for all its machines in the near future.
"This is something that a lot of retailers and operators are starting to take an interest in," Stellmach said. "They don't have to bother with receipts at the service desk and their customers can begin spending their cash quicker."
According to Stellmach, potential locations for the machines are beginning to spread beyond supermarkets. Carwashes, convenience stores and even check-cashing outlets have shown significant interest in the self-service counters.
"I just talked to a small casino that is going to put them in their properties," he explained. "They are looking for new revenue streams. What we like to say is the machines are 'five square feet of revenue.'"
Cummins-Allison is headquartered at 852 Feehanville Dr., Mt. Prospect, IL 60056; (800) 786-5528.