ATM and point-of-sale (POS) systems have helped convenience retailers gain a competitive edge by providing news service and enhanced convenience. Thirty-five key decision makers representing 5,250 stores selected Triton, PaySpot Inc. and MoneyGram as the top performers in the ATM/POS category. Honorable mentions include Western Union and Chase/Paymentech.
Among the retailers driving retail innovation is Stewart’s Shops, the Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based chain with over 300 convenience shops in New York and Vermont. The chain partnered with PaySpot to offer prepaid products through Stewart’s existing point-of-sale (POS) system.
Stewart’s Shops, known for its proprietary and dairy products, signed a multi-year agreement, which is significant because it’s the first of its kind, as no other chain has been integrated with prepaid on the Pinnacle Palm POS.
PaySpot quickly discovered two key opportunities with Stewart’s convenience stores. The first was to do what PaySpot does best, which is to expand Stewart’s prepaid category and increase sales. Before PaySpot, the only prepaid product offered by Stewart’s was a long distance carrier’s calling cards. PaySpot was able to continue to supply the national long distance provider as well as add several other specialty cards from other LD carriers.
Additionally, Stewart’s accepted PaySpot’s prepaid wireless suite into its stores. The rollout of prepaid wireless and LD into Stewart’s 326 retail locations is currently in process, and the addition of other prepaid products, including prepaid debit, prepaid gift, money transfer and bill payment, will be considered after the first phase of prepaid is implemented.
The second opportunity with Stewart’s was the requirement to integrate with Stewart’s existing POS system, Pinnacle’s Palm POS provided by The Pinnacle Corp. Integration is ideal for numerous reasons, such as it enables the clerk to sell, recharge, refund and disable prepaid products directly from the POS and it eliminates the need for additional hardware, which opens valuable counter space in the retail location.
Another way several other major c-store operators, such as Kwik Trip, Kum & Go, Wawa and Quick Chek, are differentiating themselves is no-fee ATMs. Chains purchase the cash machines and route transactions directly through their POS systems. This allows them to offer customers added convenience without an ATM surcharge. The benefit, of course, is that ATMs put more money in the hands of customers in an area they are most likely to begin spending it.
Conversely, ATM surcharges are viewed by banks, hotels and airports as a revenue stream and, as a result, fees have reached record highs. The Bank of America, for example, raised its ATM surcharge $3 per transaction, a $1 hike over its previous charge.
Convenience store owners shouldn’t complain. Wawa and Quick Chek have experienced significant sales gains as a result of the marketing strategy.
Kum & Go’s no-fee strategy is the result of a partnership with TransFund, an ATM network of banks, credit unions and retailers located in 13 states. TransFund’s Totally Free ATM was designed to eliminate some of the financial burden bestowed upon ATM users.
"This ATM program has a positive impact on our current and future customers," said Jack Wilkie, senior vice president of marketing for Kum & Go. "Allowing customer access to their cash, with no surcharge and no fees from the issuing banks, is another way for us to exceed customer expectations. Plus this is a great way for Kum & Go to distinguish our offering from other convenience stores."