Connectivity is key to the future of retail. Retailers are working to make Wi-Fi available so they can facilitate mobile marketing, mobile shopper services, mobile store operations and mobile payments. There’s another piece to keeping the mobile lifeline open that deserves more attention, and that’s mobile phone charging.
A recent Google study found that almost half of smartphone searches are goal oriented. Smartphones are driving consumers to physical stores, and once they’re there, more than two-thirds are using their devices as shopping aids. Beyond transactions or price checking, shoppers are taking pictures, collaborating with friends and family, searching for coupons and reading ratings.
It would be worthwhile for retailers and hospitality businesses to facilitate this meandering path to purchase by insuring that shoppers’ mobile devices are powered up because:
1) Phone charging as a service offers the potential to pull customers into a retail establishment – be it a store or restaurant. Think of a window sticker or poster advertising "Free Phone Charging Here."
2) It gives businesses from restaurants to retailers to entertainment venues a way to increase dwell time. After all, you can get a 25 to 50% charge in the time it takes to eat dessert or browse the accessory department.
3) Complimentary phone charging is differentiating. As a hotel guest amenity, for example, it has obvious advantages over the tangled box of orphaned chargers behind the desk and compliments other business center services.
4) Customized graphics provide the perfect opportunity to target messaging like text communication opt-in programs or invitations to interact on social media to the right audience.
Frankly, the advertising potential can turn a phone charger into an interesting co-op vehicle that can be funded through vendors. Consider a counter unit charger in a restaurant funded by a soft drink company or one in a hotel funded by a local attraction.
Mobile charging units come in all sizes from accessible counter units to secure kiosks. Units can be designed to project a customized branded image. Could they be the missing piece in mobile customer experience?
Gail Tanner is the Director of Social Media and Mobile Marketing at DSA member company Frank Mayer & Associates, Inc.