There are more than a handful of concerns keeping retail marketers up at night. Two prime ones are how to drive traffic to stores and how to keep customers engaged and in-store long enough to make purchases. Successful retailers are seeing the value of mobile devices to help achieve these aims.
Though this may be an "a-ha" moment for some, it should not come as a revelation that providing a mobile charging station for customers will facilitate their shopping and may keep them in the store longer. In a shopping center or shopping mall environment, it is also a traffic driver.
Customers no longer enter the store as white pages waiting for store employees to fill in the blanks with helpful product details. They've researched at home online or en route on their phones. They may respond to a location-based offer from Shopkick while in the aisle. They're using third party applications like Shop Savvy and Red Laser to compare prices while on site. They may even be scanning bar codes on products and displays for information. Social shoppers are posting their latest finds on Facebook or sending photos to friends for a second opinion.
Mobile shoppers are increasingly using their devices for sales assistance, and most everyone mastered the art of shopping and talking about a decade ago. The longer someone is in the store, especially within a shopping mall, the more apt they are to lose their treasured connectivity to a dead battery.
Device charging is a near universal need. We aren't just talking about the teenager whose entertainment is spending the afternoon shopping with friends. We may well be talking about the working mother who finally gets a few moments to meet some personal needs but must stay in touch with her family. Then there's the DIY guy who researched a project before going to the home center but can't access the notes and links on his phone because it just ran out of juice.
Airport retailer Hudson News and KEO Connect, LLC, were the first to recognize the value of providing a free phone charging information kiosk to travelers, some of the most mobile-dependent among us. The KEO unit's unique combination of interactive touch screens allows travelers to learn about news, weather, their destinations, hotels, restaurants, and car rentals. Travelers immediately engage with information at the point of interest while their phone, hand held game, or iPod is being charged in one of several locked and secure self-service compartments in the kiosk.
The Hudson News customer can shop and grab that bottle of water and magazine while not having to guard an exposed mobile device in a busy airport! Not only is the phone itself safe, the data on the phone is completely secure. The unit is designed so there is no danger of the phone being "Juice-Jacked" when data is skimmed. There are no data paths between the handset and the host computer.
The ROI of quick, safe and secure phone charging should be even more demonstrable for retailers who serve less time-constrained customers. The incorporation of digital signage and touch screen technology can showcase products and offers that compel leisurely customers to browse and buy while their phones are being revived. Think too of the traffic-driving advantage of being the mall store that offers free charging.
Charging device technology has advanced. With a secure kiosk, it is no longer necessary to plug in and stare at your phone like the proverbial watched pot, while making sure it doesn't walk away. The unique pin number that the customer assigns to the charging compartment opens and closes a secure bay, leaving the user free to roam.
The charging station is a way for retailers to provide a great customer experience.
Ron Bowers and Frank Mayer & Associates are recognized for their expertise of the in-store merchandising marketplace. Their creative insight has developed leading edge point of purchase displays, digital signage, kiosks, mobile, and self-service retail customer experiences.