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July 20, 2016

What Public Wi-Fi's Journey Means for Wireless Charging

By Special Guest
Carlo Chiarello, Chief Product Officer, Powermat

The journey to public Wi-Fi has been bumpy, but increasingly business are striking the right balance, using ads to cut costs or remarketing to customers to generate a positive ROI on their Wi-Fi investment.

Targeting mobile customers is a must for travel and tourism businesses such as airports, malls, hotels and cafes. By 2020, eMarketer predicts smartphone penetration will reach 88 percent of the US population. For brick-and-mortar businesses looking to capitalize on our growing smartphone dependence, wireless charging as a service should learn from Wi-Fi’s bumpy road. According to Tech Crunch, smartphone users consistently rate battery life as their No. 1 gripe — and wireless charging services such as Powermat provide the next logical evolution in customer engagement.

As brick-and-mortar businesses take the next step toward offering wireless charging, they’re asking the same questions we heard in the early Wi-Fi days: “Is it worth the investment and what will it do for my business?” Smart businesses successfully addressed these questions with Wi-Fi – today, Powermat is helping them do the same with wireless charging.

Was Wi-Fi worth the investment?

When businesses first looked at Wi-Fi solutions they asked if it was worth the trouble. Installing, troubleshooting and billing for Wi-Fi created new cycles for business managers and IT support teams. Looking back, we know the answer today is yes, because so many customers demand it:

That same Flightview study uncovered that half (50 percent) of those respondents would pay for in-seat charging stations after Wi-Fi, because dependency on devices means dependency on battery. Consumer demand reflects that, as evidenced by a recent HIS survey that found:

  • 70.1 percent of respondents hadn’t used wireless charging technology before but would like wireless charging on their next device.
  • Over 1 billion devices (smartphones, wearables, laptops, etc.) are expected to be wireless charging enabled by 2020. By 2025, that number will exceed 2 billion.

What did Wi-Fi do for my business?

Another question businesses faced was how to monetize Wi-Fi for a positive ROI. There were many different approaches. Some airports and train stations offer Wi-Fi for a limited time usage for free, around 15-30 minutes, after which you pay to continue. However more travel-related businesses are shifting towards a free Wi-Fi service supported by ads and coupons. Either way, these establishments are footing the bill with advertisers, not out of their own coffers.

The Wall Street Journal estimates luxury hotels are cashing in with innovative Wi-Fi services, by as much as 10 percent per night. Others are capitalizing via loyalty and customer engagement. Restaurants, stadiums, shopping centers and other venues are monetizing Wi-Fi by connecting with their customers on social media, such as requiring a Facebook Page “like” in order to access Wi-Fi or an email address. With all that data, venues and retailers can remarket to their customers easily. For consumers, the Wi-Fi is free and everyone wins.

Wireless Charging for Businesses

These strategies work for wireless charging, too. Powermat’s mobile engagement platform offers opportunities for businesses to engage with customers, enhance customer loyalty and drive greater sales and revenue. Businesses such as the Settlement Co coffee shop use the Powermat platform to send targeted and contextual information and updates to people as they charge or when they are on the go.

Settlement Co recently tested a remarketing campaign using 19 Powermat charging spots. The business shared three bundled coupon promotions using the Powermat platform. In the first week, Settlement generated an average of 20 percent conversion rate from coupon view to redemption. Settlement continues to reach new Powermat users weekly, leading to more sales and more growth.


In the beginning, consumers wanted Wi-Fi, and businesses delivered in a big way. By offering free, premium Wi-Fi, businesses attracted new customers and were able to explore new opportunities in remarketing and customer retention. Today, the emergence of wireless charging is no different, providing new opportunities for businesses to deliver relevant communications in the context of what consumers are doing or where they are. It’s an approach that we enable with Powermat, helping businesses capitalize on their investment by delivering powerful results.

The customer buying journey is unique in every industry, but it’s clear that wireless charging, like Wi-Fi, has the potential to drive sales.

About the Author

Carlo Chiarello, Chief Product Officer, Powermat, is responsible for formulating and executing corporate strategy, product research and development, and marketing and sales at Powermat.  Prior to joining Powermat, he worked for 11 years in several executive roles at BlackBerry – most recently as Executive Vice President, BlackBerry Handset Division, and held various positions at Innovance Networks, Nortel Networks and Bell Canada.  

Edited by Peter Bernstein

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