Leading the charge: how retailers can leverage the EV opportunity

Anila Siraj, Head of Data Strategy, examines how electric vehicle driver behavior is developing and how it differs from drivers of conventional ICE vehicles.

In part one of this two-part blog series, we explored what motivates people to buy an electric vehicle (EV), and noted how, by understanding owner behaviors, retailers can uncover real opportunities – particularly when it comes to refueling.

In this post, I want to swing the spotlight back to our Electric Opportunity report and focus on retailers.

This blog will examine if retailers acknowledge the EV opportunity, explore if they have a strategy in place, and discuss what is needed to meet EV owners’ expectations going into the future.

Preparing for the future

The first question to ask is “do retailers acknowledge there is an opportunity with EV?”, and the answer is an emphatic ‘yes!’.

86% of retailers say EVs and EV charging will be a future revenue-driver for their business. In fact, over half (53%) think EVs and EV charging will bring between 31-50% more revenue into their business.

This is great news because it shows retailers understand the opportunities of EVs, and how they can make a serious impact on their bottom line. But despite this optimism, 52% of retailers haven’t started developing their EV strategy.

Why is this? Well, the reason could be tied back to something I discussed in the last blog. The EV market is still relatively immature, and behaviors are yet to settle.

When it comes to where they’d like to see charging points, 61% of EV drivers would like to see them at their place of work, followed by 57% at shopping venues, 43% at hospitality venues, 42% at motorway service stations, and 41% at existing fuel stations. Furthermore, 66% of drivers state they are always looking out for new places to charge their EVs.

But when, and how often owners will want to charge their EVs isn’t clear. And because of this, 57% of businesses find it difficult to anticipate where EV charger infrastructure would be most useful. This uncertainty makes it hard for retailers to invest in infrastructure with any real confidence, and most prefer to wait until they can see the shape of things to come.

Another important behavioral trend for retailers to consider is what owners do while they wait for their vehicles to charge.

Refueling EVs isn’t as fast as with traditional vehicles. Depending on the type of charger, it can take upwards of 30 minutes, leaving owners with plenty of downtime. Downtime which retailers can use to their advantage.

59% of drivers spend more at shops or businesses that offer EV charging, suggesting offering refueling will have a “halo” effect on retailers’ other products and services. Furthermore, 58% of drivers often visit shops or businesses that offer EV charging, even if they’re not actively looking to charge their car, and 67% of drivers would think more positively of a shop that offers it.

Clearly, since customers actively engage with and spend more money with retailers who offer charging, this adds more fuel to the business case.

Change is coming

It’s clear that retailers can’t simply transpose the behavior of ICE drivers onto an EV driver audience. EV owners have entirely new habits and preferences that, over time, will become more apparent.

Despite most businesses not yet having a strategy, there are encouraging signs they have an appetite for change.

57% of retailers agree they’d like to better understand the characteristics and behaviors of EV drivers, — most know a good understanding of EV owners is the key to success. Additionally, 64% think their EV strategy is likely to change over the next three years. Although only time will tell if this will be fast enough.

Inevitably, it will be early adopters who lead the pack. And as our report makes clear, getting those key insights and adopting the appropriate strategy will be key to a successful future.

To get more insights and read our full research, click here to download our free report: The Electric Opportunity – Mapping the habits, preferences, and needs of electric vehicle drivers.

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