The online shipping Web site TriniTrolley is now launching cell phone charging kiosks around the country and while these are free for customers, it also encourages business owners to advertise those using these kiosks, according to the CEO of the e-commerce site, Mazuree Ali.
"This is a unique marketing tool that has the potential to reach a large captive audience. I am always looking for innovative ways to advertise especially being an online business. I asked myself how do I capture tourists at the airport which is the most expensive form of advertising? Also, I can have the kiosks in hotels to capture clientele and target markets that have tourists in hotels.
"Also, how do we target students, the next working class with incomes? At the same time, the universities need charging ports for students for their phones and tablets. How do you target customers in malls? You cannot do this unless you have a store there. With these kiosks, you can now advertise in these places," the 34-year-old Ali told the Guardian last Friday.
Fresh Plug Kiosks are innovative, secure and versatile universal charging stations for mobile phones and tablets and are free of charge for customers.
The Web site is www.freshplugkiosks.com.
These kiosks are in seven locations now which include the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre, University of the West Indies (UWI), Long Circular Mall Gym, Caribbean Cinemas in Trincity, Caribbean Cinemas in South Park and MovieTowne in Invaders Bay.
Next month, the kiosks will be launched at the water-taxi terminals in Port-of-Spain and San Fernando, the Trincity Mall, Long Circular Mall, Chuck E Cheese's and other restaurants and gyms.
Advertisers pay, free for customers
Ali said people wishing to use the kiosks do not have to pay a dollar for the service.
"People have the luxury of free charging and secure as well. People can leave their phones charging and go shop in the malls and can go to classes and after retrieve their phones. They charge all the major brands and 90 per cent of all cellphones. There are six charging lockers in each kiosk and integrated keypads which helps you input your secret password to open the door to put in the phones."
The e-commerce company officially launched the kiosks in March, installing and testing them at the Hilton Trinidad and Conference Centre in St Ann's and the Long Circular Mall gym as early as Carnival.
"They had the traffic of a lot of people coming for Carnival and they wanted to utilise that. From then to now we had about 19,000 people use the kiosks."
He developed the idea because, as an online businessman, he is always on the phone and constantly needs to charge it.
"I travel a lot and need to be connected with my phones and tablets. I found that going out to locations and having meetings at restaurants and hotels that this was a problem, not being able to send e-mails for important business meetings. However, I noticed in the first world countries this was prevalent. So I realised that we needed charging facilities in public areas."
He said businesses can use a number of ways to advertise using these kiosks.
"They can advertise on the 19-inch touch screens which play interactive videos and they also do still ads. Potential advertisers can also wrap the kiosks as well so you can brand the kiosks. In two weeks, we will also be launching free wi fi in all these locations and businesses can advertise on the network as well. We also have reports we could provide to advertisers saying how many people are using the machines and when and other information," he said.
According to Ali, for people wanting to use the kiosks to advertise, the cost is $1,000 monthly. He compared it to advertising at a movie theatre, which he said could be anywhere from $14,000 to $22,000 a month.
"You cannot advertise in the mall, unless you own a store there. You cannot advertise at the Hilton but now you have the opportunity to advertise and capture your market. Businesses advertising will be on our Web site as well and the app, so this increases your business' visibility online highlighting your services. You get to decide where and when you wish to target your customers."
He said there is an app that is available and a Web site to help people find the kiosks which will be growing in numbers over the next few months across the country.
"So you can find your location and navigate to the closest Fresh Plug Kiosk. If someone is in MovieTowne the app notifies the person where the closest kiosk is."
He foresees the corporate world wanting to use these kiosks at their workplaces.
"We already have had a couple companies and corporate customers approaching us and asking us to put it in their workplaces and businesses and we told them yes. It is possible we will have special packages for them. But right now our priority is getting them in the main public places."
Ali said TriniTrolley is the number one local online shopping Web site in T&T and the Caribbean with convenient 48-hour delivery.
The company was launched in 2009 to provide residents of T&T with a wide range of products that can be purchased through an online shopping Web site with convenient 24- to 48-hour delivery instead of using traditional "sky box" companies for online shopping in the United States. By 2011, the company expanded to include delivery to the rest of the Caribbean and world.
"You can buy anything from groceries to books to electronics to clothes. We also allow other businesses to sell online through our Web site. It is done for free and only when something is sold we take a percentage."
He is hoping to expand across the Caribbean in the future.
"We hope to launch an office and warehouse in Barbados by the end of the year. There are a lot tourists who visit there. The intention is to expand to the other islands in the future."
He said online shopping is "killing" traditional businesses because it is cheap and convenient.
"Our prices are better than stores and you have it delivered to you the customer. Now there is more access to credit card facilities. Also, with TriniTrolley a customer can pay on delivery with Linx or cash. So if people do not have a credit card they can still shop with us."
Ali said TriniTrolley is actually considered to be the "local Amazon."
"Our business model is the same as theirs so all items on our Web site are in stock by us and in T&T with delivery within 48 hours. We compete against Amazon. The challenge is to control e-commerce in T&T and the Caribbean. We shouldn't have to rely on Amazon and pay the cost of shipping and duties from the US.
"We also have a service called 'trinitrolley shops for me' where we can order and bring in things for you that we do not have on our site. So if you see something on Amazon, Walmart or another site, we will give you one final cost for the item upfront."