7-Eleven is introducing web-enabled ATMs that provide a range of banking facilities.

Retailers are increasingly offering services to boost their retail proposition. 7-Eleven's new in-store Vcom kiosks will provide banking facilities and other services that aim to boost store traffic. In the future online shopping may be offered at these kiosks, yet their main benefit will probably remain as a traffic builder.

One of the major dynamics changing the grocery retail landscape is diversification beyond traditional product portfolios. Many retailers are increasing the amount of space given over to non-core products and services to boost average gross margins and generate store traffic. 7-Eleven's new Vcom Internet-linked kiosks will enable its customers to engage in money orders, transfers and check cashing and other financial services beyond the traditional scope of ATMs. In the future, the kiosks may offer other services, such as travel directions, deposits and bill payments and even move into the world of eTailing with event ticketing.

The Vcom kiosks will complement 7-Eleven's retail proposition by providing time-saving services for consumers with on-the-go lifestyles. Being able to carry out everyday tasks such as check cashing at their local convenience store will enable consumers to combine more activities in one go. As a result, 7-Eleven hopes it will be able to generate more store traffic and increase impulse purchases.

Although many retailers offer services in an effort to increase their average gross margins, they can be expensive to run. However, since the Vcom kiosks are self-service, stores will not incur any staffing costs. 7-Eleven is taking the cash machine to the next level by offering a greater range of features. In the future these units may even be able to generate revenues by offering customers online shopping and fulfillment options that make use of the daily distribution centers serving 7-Eleven stores. However, online purchases at convenience stores are unlikely to create significant revenues, since consumers can just as readily carry out these activities from home or work. However, for routine tasks that cannot be done at home, such as making deposits and cashing checks, 7-Eleven is providing greater convenience and is likely to boost traffic as a result.

Such initiatives are likely to become more common among retailers as they attempt to further differentiate themselves and look for ways to boost revenue that are not based on increasingly intense price competition.

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