On the bright side, a real testament to making the best of meager resources. Inventive, practical extremely consumer oriented. For weeks last year I had been hearing side comments at the office about the new “ATM’s” while on trips to Cebu. I assumed everyone was now opening new banking accounts… duhh. Turns out the ATMs were an abbreviation for “Automatic Tubig Machine” or Automatic Water Machines! I took these photos a year ago, but forgot to post them. For one peso (2.4 U.S. cents) put into the “ATM”, you get 250ml of chilled purified water straight into either your recyclable container, or on the dark side, a cheap plastic bag that inevitably ends up polluting the planet. I wonder who dreamt that up?! And whoever did, along with many other copycats, are making a KILLING with them. Each “ATM” unit costs roughly PHP10,000 and you make your money back by pricing up the bottled water that is now sold chilled and in smaller portions! Here is Marketman’s take on the economics of ATMs… For every 5 gallon container of water that you buy for say PHP30-35 bulk deliveries, you get to dispense 18 liters or 72 portions of chilled water. Your gross revenue is roughly PHP71, give or take a peso for inaccurate measures and wastage. Your gross margin is roughly PHP2.2 per liter sold. If you manage to have a busy location and sell some 400 portions or 100 liters a day of water, then you would have a gross income of say PHP220 a day. Allocate PHP50 a day amortization for your machine and PHP70 for labor, electricity and plastic bags, et al, and you clear PHP100 a day in pure profit. That would translate to say PHP35,000+ per year on an investment of just PHP10,000. A 350%+ return!!! No wonder they are popping up everywhere. :) Of course you need a busy location and enough customers to buy at least 400 portions a day. But your machine would be fully paid for in just 200 days, and that would mean higher profits after that. Of course you’ll have other risks to contend with… repairs, blackouts, contaminated water, dirty hands touching the spouts, machine malfunctions, stealing (notice the machine is chained to a cement wall!), etc.
On the “dark side,” I think this “invention” says volumes about the buying power of the average Filipino consumer on the street these days. Along with 1-2x use of shampoo sachets, packets of instant noodles, two cloves of garlic in plastic, etc., everyone is buying as little as they can on a per unit basis. This is uneconomical in that the poorest ended up paying the most for many basic products, including clean water. I have railed against sachet retailing because of the garbage and pollution and damage they must do to the environment — clogging esteros, canals, dumps, and even our seas. It would be wiser, though less hygienic to just head over to your neighborhood sari-sari store and buy a squirt of shampoo for LESS than a sachet before you take a shower AND you wouldn’t have the packaging/pollution problem either. So now, if only the folks that invented the ATM would do ASD’s (Automatic Shampoo Dispensers), ALD’s (Automatic Lotion Dispensers), ATootM’s (Automatic Toothpaste Dispensers), etc… that would be even more interesting. :)