For brick-and-mortar retailers — convenience stores especially — boosting foot traffic is essential.
And for some forward-thinking merchants, the way to charge sales and boost basket sizes is to offer a charge in the parking lot.
Earlier this month, 7-Eleven announced 7Charge, billed as a “proprietary EV charging network and app” that is part of the ambition to build out what it termed to be “one of the largest and most compatible electric vehicle (EV) fast-charging networks of any retailer in North America.”
The initial forays, the company said, will be in Florida, Texas, Colorado and California.
For the retailers, there’s the chance to increase customer traffic. As EV drivers wait for the vehicles to charge up, they have time to kill. And they’re captive audiences, so to speak, so walking into the establishments to grab some coffee, maybe a snack, has appeal.
For the EV stakeholders themselves — the car companies and the network providers — there’s the added benefit of getting more charging stations out in the field. The more charging stations there are, the more likely it is that would-be EV drivers will pull the trigger and get a Tesla (to name but one option). Kelley Blue Book noted last year that only about 2% of consumers in the United States own an EV, but about 36% are considering buying or leasing one.
As to the spending momentum, one charging network, EVgo, said last year in a survey that 80% of the users of its charging stations often shop at local retailers while their vehicle is charging. The company said the availability of charging stations influenced consumers’ decision to shop at a particular location, and the customers’ average spend per shopping session equaled more than $1 per minute spent charging. The minutes add up, the vehicle gets its juice, the retailers see a boost in their own fortunes.
The joint partnerships also come at a time when the President Joe Biden administration has announced tax credits for EV purchases and charging infrastructure. As part of the Inflation Reduction Act, federal tax credit for EV charging stations and equipment have been reinstated. Businesses that install new EV chargers or EV charger equipment can embrace tax incentives of up to 30% of the total cost of equipment and installation.
Along the way, commerce gets a bit of a tweak itself. Upon paying for the recharging, PYMNTS noted last year, payment is “more likely to be made by card or mobile wallet at the point of sale, or by automatic billing.”