ST. LOUIS - Using automated teller machines with color screens and placing them in nontraditional locations like Wal-Mart stores, Boatmen's Bancshares is testing the limits of ATMs as marketing devices.
About 175 of the St. Louis-based company's 600 machines use color graphics to promote credit card offers, telephone banking services, and various account features.
Having recently placed 150 of the advanced machines in Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s Wal-Mart and Sam's Club locations in eight states, Boatmen's is not just trying to serve traditional cash-withdrawal needs.
It is trying to reach potential customers.
The company also has installed 25 color-graphics machines in a variety of high-traffic areas, such as the Kansas City Airport and the Riverport Amphitheater in St. Louis.
"The real key for us was how we could use locations such as Wal-Mart to expand sales reach," said Alanna Kellogg, Boatmen's vice president for retail delivery systems.
Each Wal-Mart store gets an estimated 20,000 to 100,000 walk-in shoppers a week.
Most of these customers have primary relationships with banks other than Boatmen's.
The souped-up cash machines not only promote bank products and services.
Some dispense coupons to people making withdrawals, offering incentives such as a free first order of checks.
The teller machines' programming allows new screens to be loaded once a month through a host system, rather than with diskettes at each individual kiosk, to keep the offers updated. Boatmen's marketing department designs and develops the screens.
"I need to worry about the packaging," Ms. Kellogg said, referring to the color graphics and the eye-catching kiosks with the Boatmen's name.
"The ATM itself can't be just a stripped down piece of mechanical hardware."
Boatmen's ATM deal with Wal-Mart complements its super-regional expansion, giving it the right to place ATMs in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Texas.
The machines are manufactured by NCR Corp.