There’s a lot of “energy” around electric vehicles (EV) and the shift from gasoline to battery operated vehicles. In fact, you may be hearing and seeing news headlines all about how gasoline vehicles will be replaced by electric vehicles (EV).
The truth is, when you dig into the research and look at forecasted new EV sales, we see that we’re in a period of transition. And this transition will not take place overnight. Most calculations estimate we’ll be well into the mid-2030s before the transition really starts to make an impact.
We have Time to Prepare
According to McKinsey and Company, registration for new car sales have doubled for electric vehicles in the first half of 2021. That’s a big number. However, the reality is that number only represents about 2-2.5% of new car sales out of millions of gasoline powered vehicles that are sold on the market today. EV Adoption also shares their long-term forecast and timeline on battery electric vehicles which are said to represent about 30% of new car sales in that same 2030 timeframe. But let’s keep in mind that’s still 70% of vehicles that will consume gasoline, which is good news for our dealer partners and c-stores.
As you can see, this is a much different message than what you read in just a quick headline. While we have time for dealers to think about these changes and create a plan to adapt to their customer’s ever evolving needs, and it is something to start working on sooner rather than later.
How can you adapt your business and get ready for a new consumer? As a long-time industry expert with a great team of customer account representatives and lengthy history in the oil industry, there are three main points we want all c-store owners to start thinking about.
Future-Proof Your Facility
The common message we continue to share with our retail store owners, regardless of gas or electric vehicle ownership, is to keep your space inviting for your customers. It is imperative as owners to stay in front of this and continue adapting your business to ensure your store stays attractive to all customers. For example, installing a rapid charger for electric vehicle owners. There is currently a lot of construction happening at c-stores due to underground EMV and state requirements. This is a great opportunity, before you break ground, to find a spot outside for future charging opportunities. Future- proofing your store and finding opportunities to grow your customer base is incredibly important for future success.
Capture that 35
While the vehicle charges, you have at least 35 minutes to capture the attention of the vehicle owner. Does your store have fresh food to offer? It’s well known that c-stores that offer fresh and hot food options are doing much better than stores that are not offering this service. While these new customers charge their vehicles, this is your opportunity to capture their attention. For example, install a sign on the charging station to call and order food to be delivered at their vehicle. You can also give them a phone number to text (capturing their cell phone data), to get the daily Wi-Fi credentials.
Better yet, bring them into the store. Does your store have an area where people can work? Give them a space they want to work, can grab something to eat, or simply relax comfortably while their vehicle charges. Having reliable Wi-Fi and good food options will help make their time disappear while also building loyalty to your store and brand. If you want to establish a relationship and want them to come into the store, you must give them a compelling reason to come in.
Give them a Reason to Come Back (In)
We can’t stress this enough: you need to give your customers a reason to come back. Maybe it’s the nice workspace you’ve created inside your store Or it might be the rapid charging capabilities they can find at your store versus a longer charge option at home. Whatever it is, make your store the destination. Don’t just invest your money for a rapid charger without having a plan. Give customers a reason to come into your store and build brand loyalty because of your unique offerings.
Get Ready for New Consumers
The shift from gas to different energy fuel sources is happening, but we do have time to prepare. Convenience store owners that can adapt to this transition will remain successful. The role that our c-stores will play in the future still puts the customer relationship first, just like it does today. We simply need to rethink how we talk to and attract our future customers. Creating a comfortable workspace, delicious food and drink options, and charging capabilities are sure to be a game changer.