The Cross Experts Discussion in Retail & EV Charging

20 / 02 / 2024

Navigating the Future: Challenges in Deploying EV Charging Stations at Retail Stores

5 min.

A man paying for gas at the petrol station

Pierre Veillon: Ferdinand, it's truly exciting how the electric vehicle (EV) market is booming. With more people opting for electric cars, the need for accessible and widespread EV charging infrastructure has never been greater. And of course charging your EV at a retail store will soon become very common while you shop. According to you Ferdinand, why would retailers deploy EV charging stations on their parking lots?

Ferdinand Fico: Good question! I see 4 or 5 reasons why retailers are deploying EV charging stations on their premises and I am curious to have your opinion! Firstly, I believe it's a way for retailers to attract new clients and potentially upsell services to them.

Pierre: Absolutely, you are correct! Whether we like it or not, EVs are currently more expensive than traditional fossil fuel vehicles, indicating that EV drivers tend to be wealthier. However, let’s be cautious about that because in some countries like in France, EV prices are going down drastically and government is promoting “social EV lease”: providing a leasing option of EVs for low-income households.

With this in mind, consider the scenario: while you shop, your car is parked, waiting for you. So, why not utilise this time to charge your EV? Charging becomes a complex task, especially in city conditions, particularly in apartment buildings without equipped garages. For inner-city EV drivers, every opportunity to charge is valuable. Soon, retailers could indeed leverage charging stations as a differentiator, either by having more chargers than their competitors, offering faster charging, or ensuring lower downtime.

Ferdinand: How about generating additional revenues, additional margin? Let’s say that, on average, clients stay 40 minutes at a retail store.

Pierre: There's an entire strategy to consider in response to that. Will a retailer choose to deploy AC or DC chargers, and at what power level? How many chargers will be installed, and will they be operational when the store is closed?

In essence, the infrastructure needs to be sized based on the parking lot dimensions and the average number of vehicles. This differs significantly from traditional fuelling, where the process takes about 5 minutes before or after shopping, assuming there is no wait.

Regarding power, a combination of both AC and DC chargers is likely necessary. Especially if the charging stations are open when the store is closed, it transforms into a setup similar to the charging stations seen in cities. AC charging, being more cost-effective, has the potential to attract a broader clientele. On the other hand, DC charging could serve as a unique selling point. For example, an EV accepting 150 Kw in DC can charge 50 Kw/h in 30 minutes, a significant amount even for larger vehicles with capacities of 80 to 100 Kw/h.

As for margins, it depends on the retailer's electricity sourcing price and selling price strategy. However, there is indeed room for additional margin in this evolving landscape.

Ferdinand: We believe that it’s also a way for retail brands to promote sustainability. Do you agree with that?

Pierre: I believe that, in the near future, nearly all retailers will deploy EV charging stations. While it could currently serve as a means to promote sustainability, I don’t see it being a primary driver in the immediate future. However, what I do believe is that it could make a substantial difference when retailers are selling "green" electricity, supplied by sources such as solar panels, wind, or hydraulic power. The potential impact on sustainability could become more pronounced as these energy sources gain prominence in the market.

Ferdinand: How about increasing property value? We hear that sometimes; what do you think?

Pierre: I believe this is a valid point, particularly in the short term. Consider this: what is rare often holds value. However, if we assume that every retailer will deploy EV charging stations, then it will no longer be an asset that property owners can capitalise on for added value in the long run.

Ferdinand: Retailers are really active in the loyalty space—it’s an important tool for them to attract and retain clients. How do you think EV charging would fit into this model?

Pierre: EV charging is an ideal tool for loyalty programs. Consider it as an additional product that enables retailers to create attractive bundles and discounts. Retailers can encourage their EV clients to pay online through their app, gaining insights into their driving habits and the types of cars they own. Bundled services offer a wide range of potential benefits, such as providing discounts on in-store purchases exceeding a certain amount or offering special deals on EV charging for customers who spend over an hour in the store. I am convinced that retailers across various sectors, including food, gardening, car parts, and hardware stores will find immense value in building loyalty programs around EV charging.

Ferdinand: I’m curious about the consumer experience. How can we ensure that EV charging becomes as commonplace as filling up a gas tank? The ease of use will surely play a role in wider adoption.

Pierre: You are absolutely right. The EV charging market began with RFID cards for station identification, followed by payment through e-commerce via the CPO/eMSP application. Europe aims to reduce reliance on this method and promote contact and contactless card payments, widely used in fuelling for decades. This shift will undoubtedly enhance the consumer experience, making it more akin to the familiar process of fueling your car. Additionally, technologies like Plug&Charge—where the car and the vehicle exchange credentials through the cable—will further strengthen the consumer experience.

Ferdinand: So, moving forward to Worldline offering: What is your team strategy? Who are your customers, and how can we work together to propose the best options to my clients, the retailers?

Pierre: In the EV charging vertical, our market strategy is straightforward. Our primary target is EV charging station hardware manufacturers. We provide them with cutting-edge payment terminals that they seamlessly integrate into their stations. Subsequently, we engage with Charging Point Operators (CPOs) and e-Mobility Service Providers (eMSPs), offering them e-commerce and commercial acquiring contracts.

Retailers have the flexibility to independently purchase EV charging stations, deciding whether to become their own CPO or partner with an existing one. If they choose to be a CPO, they become the merchant, facilitating the integration of EV charging payment flows into their core business and creating a comprehensive omnichannel consumer experience.

Ferdinand: This is fantastic. I am convinced we are witnessing a unique transformation in history with this shift from fossil to electric. I am eager to begin discussions on this passionate topic with our clients. Thanks Pierre, it was genuinely interesting sharing our views on this promising market.