The Complete Guide to Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Retail Locations

Virg Bodyfelt

Introduction to the Role of EV Charging in Retail

Installing and operating EV charging stations represent a new way for retailers to attract more customers and increase customer loyalty. It provides additional revenue opportunities by selling goods and services to EV owners while they wait for charging, e.g. selling coffee or food, car washing services, or quick hair and nail salon services. Retailers can use charging stations to offer free Wi-Fi, free parking, or even give away free charging sessions to attract customers.

The managers of retail stores also have a choice when it comes to how they want to implement EV charging stations on their property. They can add them in parking lots or outside the store, or install them inside the store.

All of this will help:

  • Provide a highly in-demand service.
  • Increase the visibility of business in the community
  • Improve brand image by being seen as an environmentally-friendly business
  • Offer EV charging as an amenity to keep customers at your store(s) longer. Many EV drivers will stay at a location longer while they wait for their car battery to fill up.

But, before installing a charger, it is wise to get familiar with what types of EV chargers exist and how they differ. If you’re new to EV charging, check out our website resources page, and download our free EV charging playbook.

Different Types of EV Charging Stations for Retail Locations

To attract the growing number of electric vehicle drivers, retailers need to offer a variety of EV charging options. For example, slow and fast chargers, as well as networked charging stations that can be accessed through mobile apps, will appeal to customers. 

There are two types of EV charging stations available for retail locations: Level 2 (L2) and Level 3 (DCFC) chargers. Level 2 chargers are the most prevalent type of charger at retail locations today.  They are also found at homes, businesses, or workplaces since they are best for dwell times of 4 to 8 hours. Equating to 18-27 miles of EV range per hour, shoppers plug-in to these chargers for convenience since they may be spending hours at a mall or just want some juice while they enjoy dinner and a movie. Retailers are incentivizing customers to stay longer by offering free or discounted charging outside their stores.

Level 3 chargers, also referred to as DC fast chargers (DCFCs), are the fastest chargers. These are more expensive than Level 2 and often deployed for quick fueling scenarios. DCFC can charge a car up to 100 miles of range in 15 minutes, or an EV battery up to 80% in 20-40 minutes.  

Both L2 and DCFC charging stations are good choices for any retail location. The benefits they provide will outweigh up-front costs you may incur, and in the long run, they will pay for themselves. A study from the Department of Energy found that a single charging station will pay for itself in less than seven years. Meanwhile, the cost of operating a charging station is relatively low and typically paid for by EV drivers who utilize the stations. 

Retailer ROI for Installing EV Charging Stations

While there are many EV charging stations available for retail spaces, it is important to choose the one that will provide you with the best return on investment. The cost of installation of a station is not the only consideration. There is also the electric load factor attributed to each location and whether or not the area is conducive for customers to access.

Let’s put that in numbers. The table below provides the potential annual revenue for a single Level 2 electric vehicle charging station with low, medium, and high charging activity:

How EV Charging Infrastructure Will Change the Way We Shop

The future of retail is electric. As we approach a more sustainable future, you can expect to see electric vehicles on the road and various charging stations at shopping malls, restaurants, businesses, and other public spaces.

Battery-powered cars will not only change the way we get around but also the way we shop. Retailers who offer EV charging to customers and employees meet a growing consumer demand that will only increase with time. Business owners who make this investment can earn additional revenue when customers pay for charging and by participating in carbon offset markets. Moreover, retailers can meet their own sustainability goals with the installation of EV charging stations. 

Keep Your Customers Fully Charged with AmpUp

AmpUp has worked with several retailers to deploy EV charging solutions. Our retail partners include shopping malls, candle stores, vehicle service shops, and banks, to name a few. Retailers who deploy charging stations for employee and customer use can benefit from EV networking software like AmpUp, especially when retail locations offer multiple charging stations on their properties. Networking software allows the retail site host to manage reservations for all those using the chargers. Site hosts can set up categories of users and allow for specified charging windows for customers during shopping hours, reserved charging for employees-of-the-month, or off-hour public charging for nearby residents.

Platforms like AmpUp give retailers the necessary analytics on EV charger station usage and performance to make better decisions on clean energy investments and additional charging installations for the future. Key metrics gleaned from our software can inform retail site hosts on EV charging demand and peak session usage. With this knowledge, retailers can optimize charging revenue or create special promotional offerings for their customers such as free charging during holiday shopping seasons. We provide sustainability metrics associated with vehicle electrification like the amount of CO2 saved from entering the atmosphere, which empowers retailers to achieve sustainability and clean energy goals and to share these important efforts with their customers.

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