6 Jul 2023

Electric Vehicle Charging: The Best Kept Secret In Retail

According to ZapMap, at the end of April 2023, 42,566 electric vehicle charging points were across 24,909 charging locations in the UK. This figure is a 37% increase in charging points since last year. 

As the number of electric charging locations continues to rise, many retailers are taking note. Discover why driver convenience is vital and how to monetise electric vehicle charging.

Owning And Operating Rapid Charging Stations

You will usually find rapid charging stations in on-route locations, such as short-term destinations. Most electric charging stations are next to major roads, quick-service food restaurants, drive-thrus, takeaways, and coffee shops. 

A retail park is one area where all these retail outlets can coexist. It is a place where people usually stay for a short period, and while there, they can charge their electric cars.

Boosting Driver Convenience for EV Charging

It’s essential to understand why the location makes all the difference. At SMS, many landowners approach us and are interested in electric charging to earn money from their land. 

However, there is nothing else at the site in many of these country locations.  Sometimes there is limited access, and it can also be a hazardous location for anybody to use in the middle of the night. 

Location, Location, Location

In contrast, there could be a retail park two miles away with different coffee shops and restaurants open 24 hours. At the end of the day, the charging stations must give driver convenience. 

There are now also popular organisations, such as ChargeSafe, that are ranking charging bays based on their safety and security. A retail park allows drivers to charge their electric cars safely in a comfortable location.

Electric Charging Can Compliment The Retail Experience

A retail park concept will have multiple retailers in a shared car parking space, offering different services, such as food and drink and shopping options. As a restaurant chain, you might have other competitors in the same complex. 

You might have put electric charging in, or an electric charge point is available because a charge point operator is operating that station on your behalf. It could be in your area of the car park or close to your location. 

The Power of Discount Codes and Vouchers

There is a significant benefit for retailers who are in this situation. You can start looking at electric charging as complementary to the retailing experience. As a retailer, you want to take advantage of the opportunity to get more customers. 

You are responsible for the charger and working with the charge point operator. However, you have a business opportunity, as when a driver connects to the charge point, you can, via an email or app, offer a voucher or discount code for the driver. 

Free Publicity And Different Income Streams

You can also flip this and do it the other way around. Somebody in your restaurant chain could receive a discount on EV charging. It can work both ways. It’s no different to how supermarkets offer reward and loyalty schemes.  

Why would you, as a retailer, not want to take advantage of the opportunity to get more customers? It can be a lucrative way to increase your business. Also, don’t forget the free publicity on ChargeSafe.

Using The Platform and Software From SMS

It’s all about thinking differently to enhance experiences for EV drivers when they charge their cars. SMS can handle platform or software issues for retailers. SMS can provide this for retailers in the pub/restaurant areas.  

Department stores on the high street can also use the platform, and software, to create discounts on the total bill. The retailers can lead the discount themselves. SMS handles the functionality and process by linking APIs to the retailer’s software. 

The system then creates a voucher or QR code for the customer at the checkout counter. It all enhances the customer experience instead of it feeling like it is something in isolation.

Driver Convenience Is The Key

Ultimately, the art of design and delivery can help ensure smooth charging experiences for EV drivers wherever they are. Understanding the core activity at a charging site is critical to make the driver experience frictionless.

There will be a trend as the UK moves into a mass market of adoption of EVs. There will be a move from people who were early adopters, to willing adopters, to “pleasers” within the space. 

Then there will be a move on to those people who are the “friction” in the space that do not want an electric vehicle. These people usually want to keep their ICE vehicle or are hydrogen advocates and resist the change. 

Removing the Layers of Friction

Having layers of friction in the process can reinforce people's belief that the electric vehicle transition is wrong. It’s all about removing the layers of conflict in the industry so everything is smoother.

Electric cars are available, the driving range is there, and it will improve. As a retailer, if you make convenience the most important part, from a charging perspective. You can take away all the problems and doubts. 

The challenges in charging are that you must match charging to what you are doing. You have to design the right solution using the three Rs, the right charge, location, and speed.  

SMS Is Helping To Shape The Future Of Electric Charging

The UK government has announced 300,000 public charge points available by 2030. These chargers will be a combination of rapid, fast and some slow chargers, of which 6,000 will be rapid charging for on-route charging. 

With two decades of experience, and end-to-end capabilities, SMS is at the forefront of this specialised industry. SMS has positively impacted electric vehicle charging, working across many areas, such as fleets, destinations, and workplace settings. 
As the EV industry enters another exciting phase, the main priority for the company will be on-route charging. By the end of the next decade, SMS predicts it will own and operate 10% of the market share. This figure is equivalent to SMS owning and operating 6,000 rapid charge points throughout the United Kingdom.

Are you a retailer who is considering installing electric charging? Or are you looking to upgrade your current setup? Whether you are new to electric charging or want to upgrade your existing design, we can help. 

Work together with us to help create a cleaner, greener, and more sustainable world.