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When a guest comes to your house, you greet them and ask: would you like a glass of water? You offer them an essential human amenity to help make them feel welcomed.

What elemental amenities do shoppers need? Obviously they need heat, light, restrooms, elevators, drinking fountains... In the Age of Mobile they also need connectivity and mobile power. This is why we consider smartphone charging stations to be 21st century drinking fountains for thirsty smartphone-wielding consumers.

In the current disrupted retail environment, there will be winners and losers. The winners are improving in-store “experience”, making it cool, fulfilling and convenient. In response to certain first-order consumer needs, the winners are facilitating in-store Mobile, often with first-order technologies, namely mobile connectivity and mobile power.

This is a simple line of argument. We all know that Mobile is increasingly important in retail ecosystems. According to a Google 2016 infographic (“How People Meet Their Needs” http://bit.ly/IW2BM): a growing percentage of “I-Want-To-Buy Moments” are influenced by Mobile.

  • 65% of people use their phone in their I-Want-To-Buy Moments
  • 79% of people took relevant mobile action on their phone prior to making a purchase

So it ain’t rocket science for retailers to prioritize technology spending that facilitates in-store Mobile. Smartphone-wielding shoppers need two basic amenities: Connectivity and Power.

Without these, they cannot research products or use Apps. And they cannot be discovered and engaged by higher-order retail technologies.

Most retailers appreciate the importance of connectivity, and therefore provide in-store wifi, often at not inconsiderable expense. But many also make highly tenuous assumptions about the available supply of in-store mobile power. Mistakenly, they assume that shoppers wield DIY power (backup batteries, charging cables or second devices). These retailers do not plan to incur the relatively reasonable expense of providing an in-store secure charging amenity. They do not have mobile power budgets. This is short-sighted at best, and not strategic at worst.

In our experience, most consumers do not carry their own 21st-century drinking fountains in their pockets. In a 5 month 2017 survey in North American retail locations Brightbox, Inc. learned:

  • 77% of consumers do not wield DIY means to source mobile power
  • 95% said having a secure recharging amenity enhanced their customer experience

The conclusion is simple: all retailers should anticipate the “micro-moment” when some of their shoppers experience a deficit of in-store mobile power.

In another Google infographic (“Shape Consumers’ Preferences in Their I-Want-To-Buy Moments” http://bit.ly/IW2BMS), the authors suggested:

  • Identify your Consumers’ Micro-moments
  • Deliver Relevant Messaging
  • Measure Every Consumer Touchpoint

If indeed the human need for convenient mobile power is one of those micro-moments, then providing a charging amenity is an attractive opportunity, not just to meet an elemental need, but to connect with the shopper and deliver relevant messaging.

After all, recharging a smartphone is an intimate experience: the shopper entrusts a prized possession into the care, custody and control of a technology provider like Brightbox. Across our global fleet of kiosks, the average charging session time is 41 minutes, a statistic which speaks both to our trustworthiness and to a deep consumer need for mobile power.

Let’s recap. People like to shop. Shoppers like to touch and feel products, and understand as much as possible about what they are buying. Despite current apocalyptic prognostications about the death of retail, 93% of sales dollars are still being spent in the physical store environment. So why not make Mobile shoppers feel welcomed?

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