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Maximizing Revenue From EV Chargers

Implementing a strategic marketing campaign early on goes a long way in boosting sales and charging sessions.
An electric vehicle at a charging station

The data is clear: More people are driving electric vehicles (EVs), which presents a tremendous opportunity for retailers looking to increase revenue from charging and draw in shoppers who spend more time — and money — in their stores.

S&P Global projects that EVs will account for anywhere between 40% and 50% of passenger vehicle market share in the United States by 2030, which would require eight times as many chargers than currently exist.

Installing an EV charger is an investment that can pay dividends. Based on data collected from hundreds of FreeWire EV chargers installed across the United States and Canada, it's clear that a strategic marketing campaign during the first three to six months after an EV charger is installed — the "Discovery Phase" — is key to maximizing its revenue potential, both from charging and increased in-store sales.

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[Read more: U.S. Adds 1,000-Plus EV Stations in Six Months]

Once people know there is a reliable place they can charge their vehicle, they return and spread the word. The analysis found that promotion in these critical first weeks can more than double the long-term utilization of — and revenue from — new charging stations compared to less advertised stations.

EV Charging Increases Opportunity for More In-Store Revenue

EV charging infrastructure continues to be in high demand. The U.S. Department of Energy estimates that by 2030, the U.S. will need 28 million EV chargers.

This is good news for retailers as an average fast-charging session lasts 25 minutes — that's time drivers could be spending in your store.

One analysis found that in those 25 minutes, a customer spends, on average, about $11.25 on charging their car and upwards of an additional $25 on in-store purchases. 

The additional time it takes to charge compared to fueling up a car presents an opportunity to invite the customer in.

Marketing to Changing Customer Preferences

The average EV owner tends to be environmentally conscious, relatively affluent with a median income of more than $100,000, and tech-savvy. A successful promotion campaign must meet them where they are.

Research shows that promoting your chargers through the strategies below, employed during the first three to six months of a newly installed EV charging station, has a lasting effect on the traffic and revenue generated by the charger in the years following installation. To maximize this critical time window: 

Create a Strong Online Presence

To ensure EV drivers can find your charging station, it's essential to list it on major EV charging networks such as PlugShare, ChargePoint, EV Connect, Shell Recharge and others. A poll recently found that 35% of drivers find their fast-charger through PlugShare. An additional 46% find theirs through other mobile apps associated with the charger.

Make sure to list your charging stations on mapping applications such as Google Maps, Apple Maps and Waze. 

Also, keep photos current and respond to online reviews to present the location in the best light, highlight amenities and maintain a positive customer experience.

Host a Special Event

A ribbon-cutting or giveaway can catch people's attention. The goal is to ensure people know this new asset is in their community. Partner with the local Chamber of Commerce to make some noise. 

Research indicates that promotional charging deals can drive long-term usage. FreeWire has seen that short-term free charging deals result in long-term adoption, and customers do not dissipate when the promotion ends. A limited-time free charging promotion can increase revenue by 123%, with average utilization increasing by more than 250%.

Local Press Outreach Matters

Local media is your friend. Let them know you have a new offering. Keep it succinct and highlight what makes you different. Are you the first fast charging station in town? Or do you offer certain amenities like a café? 

Also, special events and promotions make good news hooks for local media. A ribbon-cutting combined with a free charging promotion can grab eyes and headlines, depending on the news market. 

Make sure to couple any planned promotions with a short press release highlighting the promotion, especially the offer of limited-time free charging. 

A Growth Opportunity

The EV boom is real and promises tremendous economic opportunity for those willing to take advantage of it. Investing in charging infrastructure can grow your customer base and drive revenue. However, to maximize the benefit of new charging stations, store owners must make their communities aware of what they offer through strategic marketing.

The Discovery Phase can be a make-or-break moment for store owners investing in new EV charging infrastructure; it's important to make the most of it. 

Connor Botkin is director of marketing at FreeWire Technologies, where he leads his team in developing and executing innovative campaigns that engage target audiences, playing a pivotal role in making FreeWire a global leader in EV charging and energy solutions. Botkin has more than a decade of experience in cleantech industry marketing. 

Editor's note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News

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