Nearly half of all Kiwis feel “naked” without their phone, a report by consumer insights agency Canstar Blue finds.

As a wealth of evidence shows our rising emotional dependence on phones, it’s vital that retailers recognise mobile-device usage in store, and adapt accordingly.

An extensively researched ChargeBox study shows “nomophobia”, the fear of being without a mobile phone, impacts on the sales process.

“Successful retailers have integrated their approach to their digital and bricks & mortar presence, recognising that their customers interact in multiple ways through multiple channels,” ChargeBox notes.

Phone charging stations drive spend

The study shows that phone usage, apps, battery life and customer satisfaction are all important, and are interlinked.

In shopping centres with phone charging stations, 56% spent money whilst their mobiles were on charge, 39% bought products, 17% were planning on spending money on food and beverages and 32% were enabled to carry on window shopping, which they would not have been doing with the stress of a dead battery.

Another study by Ink conducted at a store that offers customers free-to-use ChargeBox Prime charging stations that ChargedAs provides found:

  • The phone charging stations increase dwell time in-store by 104%
  • The units increase basket size by 28%
  • ChargeBox increases spend by 133%
  • 72% of charging station users indicated they would return to the store to use ChargeBox again

For the “nomophobia” study, researchers examined three key strands of a shopper’s mobile experience: The absent in-store shopper, the “happy appy” and the satisfied customer.

Absent in-store shopper

A crowd gathers round a phone charging station at Westfield

This is when a shopper visits a store while being tapped into an online world via their phone. This can be seen as an opportunity for profit gain as well as increased customer satisfaction levels.

Consumers rely on phones for every aspect of the shopping journey, from pre-shopping, to after going home. Nine in 10 customers use their phones find a store’s location, opening times and where specific products are sold.

Once in store, the ChargeBox study found 92% of smartphone shoppers use their devices. The report found they used their phones to:

  • Contact family (over 50%).
  • Do comparison shopping (roughly 15%).
  • Undertake a product review (over 10%).
  • Take photos of potential purchases (about 25%).
  • Use retail apps (11%).
  • Find out more details about products (9%).
  • Purchase online, rather than in store (some 5%).
  • Use a coupon or voucher (roughly 10%).

Of note: Only about 15% of those surveyed said they didn’t use their phone.

It’s plain to see that retailers should use mobile phones to attract shoppers to stores and increase dwell time when they visit.

Use of mobiles is intrinsic to shoppers’ experience, and to them spending. This shows engaging with customers through digital is essential.

Ignoring this fact could hurt a retailer — particularly in the current climate, as retailers look to increase revenue impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Happy appy”

Woman using Westfield's charging stationRetail apps increase customer engagement. They can provide a way of reaching out to create a personalised experience for the customer, while still being commercially driven.

“Any app usage is dependent on the customer being willing to spend their resources (time, battery, data)” on using apps, the “nomophobia” study found.

The research found that people are very emotionally involved with their smartphones: 62% of those surveyed said they’re “always” or “often” aware of their phone battery, and 71% said they become “slightly, or very, anxious” when their phone battery goes flat.

Some of those surveyed said they owned two smartphones in order to have a back-up in case of battery-failure.

The solution: If you’re encouraging customers to download and use your app, they need to be assured that it won’t lead to their battery running out or chewing through precious data allowance. Most shopping centres have addressed this issue by providing free Wi-Fi.

And more and more retailers are now turning to phone charging stations to overcome the problem of phones draining batteries — and with ChargedAs there are no safety or security concerns.

We guarantee the safety and security of all devices left in our lockers and have never had a phone lost, stolen or damaged in our lockers since establishing in 2017.

Customers can continue shopping with the peace of mind that their phones are safely locked away in our lockers.

Retailers who provide our phone charging stations encourage people who would otherwise be unwilling to use an app amid phone battery concerns to download them, without the worry of their device going dead.

“Consequently, customers are more likely to use their mobile devices, increasing spend and app-usage,” notes the study, which conducted the research in a department store that was using our free-to-use ChargeBox Prime model, which features an LCD for video ads and can be wrapped in brands’ designs that our clients can on-sell to sponsors.

Customer satisfaction and phone usage

An Intu shopper uses a phone charging stationAn Oracle survey found 90% of consumers would be willing to spend more with a company if the overall customer experience were improved.

“One way in which to do this is to provide free charging for customers,” ChargeBox notes.

“This ties in with increasing app usage, and supporting customers to use their phones whilst shopping, both of which have been shown to increase satisfaction and engagement.

“When this proposition was tested, ChargeBox found that 94% of people agreed that their shopping experience was improved through using the free charging service. When client shopping centres have conducted their own surveys, they found the same; feedback was ‘overwhelmingly positive.'”

Key marketing strategy: It’s clear that alleviating customers’ anxiety over their phone batteries should be should be a fundamental part of marketing considerations for anyone invested in retail.

The easiest solution is to provide safe and secure phone charging stations like ours — rather than USB ports or using phone charging companies that use poorly made lockers or PIN pads instead of keys, all of which which don’t guarantee the safety and security of devices left in lockers.

USB ports also cannot guarantee the safe charging of devices. The feedback from companies is they are unreliable, offer no analytics (unlike our stations), and result in a poor service, ChargeBox CEO Ian Hobson points out.

“Low power USB is not suitable for modern devices, but is often all that is available,” Hobson says.

“Plus, it is not managed, so any faults are not detected, and it is not possible to determine safe charging.”

Another point on USB ports is many people don’t bother taking their phone chargers with them when they’re out and about and will just return home when their phone batteries run low.

Build brand trust

It is clear that customers with fully charged phones is a key consideration in order for retailers to be successful in store and in marketing.

Providing this service builds brand trust. Our customisable phone charging stations can reinforce this as they can be wrapped in client branding and feature in-built LCD screens that can play video ads on loop.

People tend to have phones with them 24/7, and 81% of those ChargeBox surveyed said they never switch their mobile off.

“This inseparability also reflects their importance to the customer, with 85% of people counting their mobiles as a central factor in their life,” the study notes.

The research found that customers are “actively aware of and engaged with the service” that our phone charging stations provide.

Other key findings: 61% of respondents said that the free charging service influenced their decision to come to the specific shopping centre.

  • “56% declared that they spent more time at the shopping centre as a direct result of being able to charge their phone.
  • “56% of those who used the service spent money whilst their phone was on charge (eating, drinking or buying products).

This shows phones play a pivotal role in the shopping experience.

Retailers must make it their priority to aid mobile phone use through providing free charging facilities.

The bottom line: You’re likely to have happy, loyal customers and increased profit if you provide our phone charging stations — especially the free-to-use ones.

Want this customer experience at your venue? Contact ChargedAs: