Retailers: Help Solve the EV Charging Station Shortage and Increase Your Bottom Line


The United States has reached a tipping point in the shift toward electric vehicle (EV) adoption. But before EVs can become a fully mainstream choice for drivers, the nation’s EV charging infrastructure must become more widespread, convenient and reliable.

The push to improve the charging experience in the U.S. has gathered momentum in recent years. The 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law put up $7.5 billion to install 500,000 public chargers nationwide by 2030. The Department of Transportation is providing funds to help install chargers along interstate highways in all 50 states. But the biggest barrier for prospective EV drivers is the lack of easy, available charging options.

An emerging approach to filling that currently wide gap is by installing charging stations at big-box retailers, convenience stores and other locations where people can charge their vehicles while going about their daily routines. Walmart, for example, has announced plans to add fast-charging stations at thousands of Walmart and Sam’s Club stores around the country, in addition to the stations it already has at 280 locations.

For retailers, installing charging stations offers a win-win. Not only does the company demonstrate a commitment to sustainability — something a growing number of consumers say is important to them — but offering reliable charging hubs can be good for business. For consumers, the convenience of retail EV charging hubs mitigates a key sticking point in their decision on whether to go electric.


Charging Stations are Essential to EVs’ Growth

Electric vehicles are here to stay. EV sales hit more than 1 million in 2023, according to data from Kelley Blue Book. That represented 7.6% of total vehicle sales, up from 5.9% in 2022.

Although the percentage of EVs on U.S. roads is still small, that steady sales growth underscores the overall transition toward electric-powered driving. The combination of EVs, plug-in hybrids and traditional hybrids could account for 25% of vehicles on the road in 2024.

But for drivers, charging can be a downside of going electric. According to a recent survey conducted by JD Power, EV owners are not satisfied with charging infrastructure in the U.S., and reliability of public chargers continues to be a problem.  The growing popularity of EVs calls for more charging options to meet the demand. If the United States is to hit the Biden administration’s goal of EVs accounting for half of all new car sales by 2030, fast, convenient charging must become commonplace.

EV charging stations at retailers could be a big step in that direction — while also being advantageous to both retailers and consumers.

How Charging Stations Benefit Retailers

Installing charging stations requires an investment, which can be several thousand dollars for each Level 2 charger and considerably higher for Level 3 (DC Fast) chargers. But the benefits to retailers can be considerable, both in terms of money generated by the charging stations and in traffic to stores.

The benefits of installing charging stations for retailers include:

New customers: The diversity of EV models and EV drivers is growing. Installing next-generation EV chargers at retail locations can help attract the expanding pool of EV drivers looking for reliable charging stations at a time when in-store retail foot traffic is still struggling to recover from the pandemic and the growth of ecommerce.
Longer store visits: A retail store that doubles as a reliable hub for EV charging would not only bring in more customers, but those customers would have more time to browse in a store while they wait for their vehicle to charge, ultimately increasing a retailer’s bottom line.
New revenue stream: For a low cost of entry, retailers can establish a steady revenue stream from repeat charging customers. Charging stations create a lucrative revenue share model that also quickly delivers ROI for retailers. The amount of money generated by an EV charging station can vary depending on factors such as location and size, but research suggests that ROI will typically generate profits between 25% to 50%.
Improved sustainability and brand perception: Environmental concerns and sustainability are increasingly important to consumers, especially younger shoppers. According to research firm Deloitte, Generation Z and millennial customers are 27% more likely to make a purchase when they believe a brand cares about its impact on people and the planet. As younger generations’ buying power grows, retailers can drive their buying decisions and build brand loyalty by demonstrating a commitment to sustainability.

Overall, providing EV charging provides another way for retailers to strengthen their engagement with customers, demonstrating a commitment to improving their shopping experience by providing features that customers want and need. Giving customers a convenient, easy charging experience can help ensure that they’ll be willing to come back.

It’s Not Just Big-Box Stores

The push to add EV charging stations to retail outlets isn’t just limited to big-box stores like Walmart, Target and Costco. Convenience stores and restaurants also are looking to add charging stations to attract EV drivers.

Chains such as 7-Eleven and the Texas-based Buc-ee’s recently announced plans to install EV charging stations. Some restaurant chains likewise are entering the charging market, with Subway saying it plans to install charging stations along with eating areas, where people can have a meal while charging their vehicle. The number of EVs on the road is steadily growing as business, industry and government continue to strive to reduce carbon footprints and achieve the United States’ net-zero goal by 2025. Before electric vehicles can make the leap toward widespread use, EV charging must be fast, convenient and reliable for consumers. Retail chains can make a significant difference in providing charging options to the masses — while improving their own bottom lines along the way.

As CEO and Co-founder of EVPassport, Hooman Shahidi leads EVPassport’s global growth and corporate development operations, from global field operations, customer success, implementation, strategic and channel partnerships, investor relations, revenue operations and go to market strategy. He was previously an Advisor at Booz Allen Hamilton, is an active Partner at Mendoza Ventures and has held various leadership roles at Salesforce (NYSE: CRM), Yext (NYSE: YEXT), Oracle (NYSE: ORCL), and State Street (NYSE: STT). Shahidi is a serial entrepreneur and growth strategist with two successful exits and over a decade of experience scaling teams and organizations.

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