Volta and Walgreens started working together to offer Level 3 EV chargers to customers 3 years ago. Right now, they can be found at 49 Walgreens stores in the US, mostly in California. This week, the two companies announced they are expanding their partnership to bring 1,000 Level 3 chargers to more than 500 Walgreens locations.
“As we expand our DC fast charging presence across the country, Walgreens is an ideal match for faster forms of Volta charging given the average time a Walgreens shopper typically spends in-store,” says Scott Mercer, founder and CEO of Volta. “Volta’s intelligent charging network is built around understanding and anticipating consumer behavior. The next phase of our work with Walgreens will provide people with a quick, convenient and meaningful charge that is tailored to their shopping experience while bringing us another step closer to a clean energy future.”
What’s It All About, Volta?
Why is this big news? There are a couple of reasons. First, until now, most Level 3 fast charging stations have been located along major highways. Businesses, shopping malls, government facilities, hospitals and the like have tended toward Level 2 chargers where drivers could take a little sip of extra energy instead of a big gulp.
Next, Volta’s business model is to combine charging with advertising and not just random ads for car insurance or cell phone plans, either. Did you see this phrase in Scott Mercer’s statement? “Understanding and anticipating consumer behavior?” This is what Amazon and Google and Fakebook do. This is Big Data collecting, storing, and analyzing everything about what motivates individual people to make the buying decisions they do. Volta calls it “out of home” advertising. Some might call it Brave New World stuff.
Finally, the quote you see above from Scott Mercer was found not at Reuters or Engadget. It came from Drug Store News. A similar story can be found at Progressive Grocer. This is the future of retail, people, the fusion of Big Data and merchandising. The message to the commercial world is not that installing EV chargers at your place of business will attract EV drivers but rather that installing EV chargers at your place of business will help you sell more stuff to them with targeted ads that get them thinking about items available inside before they ever set foot in your door.
The future of transportation is electric and the future of retail is leveraging the data set that surrounds all those EV drivers to create more sales. The good news for electric car advocates is this marks a paradigm shift in the thinking of the business community. From now on, EV chargers won’t be a costly expense, they will be a profit center and every retailer will want them. Brilliant!
Benefits For All
As executive editor Zachary Shahan reported last year, Volta says its research shows that merchants which have installed Volta chargers have benefited from an “increase in spend, dwell time, and engagement on site.” Scott Mercer says, “The electrification of mobility is one of the largest infrastructural shifts of our generation and Volta’s charging network is ready to anchor the accompanying consumer behavior that will change along with it. As we transition out of the carbon economy, we will see a fundamental transformation of our existing fueling infrastructure. Businesses anticipating this shift can take advantage of a revenue transfer from gas stations to retail locations in the community where consumers go, live, shop and play.”
Clearly, Walgreens has seen the proof of the Volta concept in the 3 years since it first began partnering with Volta and is now ready to take that partnership to the next level. In addition to enhancing sales, those chargers also help Walgreens meet its sustainability goals. The community benefits as well from not having as many pollutants in the air as electric cars begin to replace cars with infernal combustion engines. It’s a virtuous cycle in which everyone benefits. Expect more retailers to see the light and begin clamoring for smart, connected EV chargers for themselves.