When Battery World Southbank threw open its doors in March, it was more than the opening of another store for the national specialised battery retailer – it was a giant leap forward in its 18-year history.
Highlighting a commitment and confidence in ‘bricks and mortar stores’, this is the company’s first ever CBD location: a flagship designed to continue with a direction of rapid growth and expansion.
Hoppers Crossing franchisee Andrew Stubbs has long seen the need for a CBD store and is tasked with creating the newly-formatted retail experience – one that reiterates the need for service and accessibility for city workers and residents.
“This is a triple A rated site with more than 100,000 cars a day going passed our building,” Mr Stubbs said,” So from a brand perspective you really can’t beat that exposure. With its roots in the automotive sector, CBD sites had not been considered ‘bread and butter’ material. Battery technology and portable power are driving forward at a great rate of knots and will continue to be a dominant frontier as we seek to be continually plugged in.
“The diversity of batteries used in the CBD alone ranges from the smallest coin cell to larger batteries for security systems and indeed cars. With many people only using their cars only on weekends, and then often only intermittently, they often do not get to be fully charged. So it makes perfect sense to be able to provide these battery services, taken for granted in the suburbs and our regional centres, to those slap bang in the CBD.”
Battery World Network Development Manager Alex Forbes has long sought a CBD location driving the move to create a retail experience.
“Market research tells us many customers would shop in a Battery World store but don’t as we are not close by,” he said, “While our immediate aim is to open 100 stores possibly by the end 2016 – our vision extends beyond that with a long term goal of opening in international markets.”
Mindful of the grapple to be able to buy all things on the internet, Battery World says it is somewhat cushioned by the fact battery technology is increasingly smart and specific.
General manager Rowan Hodge said at no point must Battery World take it eyes off the fact customers need to be properly informed with expert advice.
“At the moment the Internet can struggle to give advice,” Mr Hodge said, “It can give information very, very well but giving specialist advice to the circumstances is not the Internet’s specialty. It ‘s the Battery World specialty.”
To do this the Southbank store is the first of 91 stores, to introduce a battery testing station in the store itself and not out the back so customers can see how the battery is charged and tested or topped up with acid – all debunking and demystifying battery myths.
“Australians embrace technology like no other nation but there are also those trying to eek as much life out of an old gadget as possible.,” Mr Stubbs said, “We aim to cater to both those wanting the very latest in technology and those just trying to keep up.”
Mr Hodge said while the conventional retail model needed to be relevant because it offered something not available in the online experience – there was an opportunity for Battery World to embrace the best of both worlds.
“I think there is an opportunity to offer range, choice, and in some respect, education, using online tools,” he said, “Our “in-person retail model” offers expertise and trust in a bricks and mortar company. So the Melbourne CBD store is likely to be the place to kick off e-commerce.
“It will begin with click and collect which is probably the absolute toe in the water of e-commerce and then it will move on from there to something that can be delivered. We are ambitious and could become the “uber” of all things power – delivering batteries to your home or workplace – just in time to click that mouse on send for the document the world is waiting for.”