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    The Valley Group

    Retail marketing group creating powerful in-store solutions, driven by insight, knowledge and creativity

    Dr Retail 07.01.21

    How new Electric vehicle charge stations will change Forecourt Retailing

    The UK’s first electricity-only car charging station opened in December in Braintree, Essex, UK which will allow customers to charge their Electric vehicles (EV) from 20% to 80% within twenty minutes. Read Gridserve’s press release here: https://www.gridserve.com/2020/12/06/gridserve-opens-uks-first-electric-forecourt/

    Currently the average customer spends about seven minutes at a traditional filling station which is enough time to refuel, go for a bathroom stop and maybe pick-up a quick snack or coffee. If we look at the business model for traditional filling stations, it’s aimed at getting customers through a facility as quick as possible and shopping is very much a bolt-on service that’s relatively low-cost and quality so long as its convenient. The margins on the sales of these goods are largely small with retailers relying on volume in order to make a profit. 

    As the world of work migrates from an office culture to a work-from-home, or eventually hybrid working pattern, the volume of vehicles on the road will naturally decrease even though car sales during the pandemic have increased. We will still see the usual seasonal peaks, which we believe could actually be higher than before during national holidays as people decide to holiday in the UK.  

    vehicles charging

    So what does this mean for retail? An additional 13 minutes at an EV charging station may not sound like a lot, but it opens major opportunities for better quality retail and hospitality experiences. EV owners on average tend to be a wealthier demographic, or are certainly early adopters, which means they have greater disposable income to spend whilst their cars recharge. Time spent browsing the forecourt facilities will increase dwell time and we’ll see a shift from convenience retailing and speed, to quality offerings that are service orientated. This move will allow brands to offer better experiences at higher margins.  

    The smartest brands and retailers will rethink their long-term forecourt business plans and start planning for new services such as in-car wellness, leisure and rejuvenation services. We could see completely new services emerge such as micro EV service centres where vehicle health checks are performed combined with car manufacturers promoting their next EV in order to lure customers over. Today its widely accepted that Tesla is about three years ahead of the traditional automotive industry when to comes to their battery and range technology and they’ve been ahead of the game when it comes to implementing charging infrastructure, this means car makers are trying to sell cars on other merits such as design, practicality and even new subscription-based ownership models as we’ve started to see from Volvo. Engaging an all-EV audience in one single location will only exist at new charging stations such as Gridserve’s facility in Braintree.

    Reach out to discover more about our insights on the emerging in-car wellness market and the untapped commercial opportunities that await at EV charge stations.

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