Urban Outfitters Adds Free iPhone Chargers For Shoppers, But Who's Watching The Phones?

Urban Outfitters (NASDAQ:URBN) is installing Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone charging stations for customers to use free of charge, Mobile Commerce Daily reported.

The charging tables will each contain ten iPhone chargers for customer use. The idea is to use the chargers to get shoppers into the store, under the theory that Urban's target customers are part of the group most likely to run down phone batteries during a shopping trip.

But it's not clear how the stores will manage security for customer phones. That's likely to be necessary because the phones are expensive items and an unattended charging table would quickly become a magnet for thieves.

That could put the stores in the awkward position of luring customers in, but then forcing the customers to hang around the charging table while they wait for their phones to charge—which means they can't circulate to look at or try on apparel, defeating the purpose of the phone-charging service.

The charging tables, which have already shown up at some stores in New York City and Washington, D.C., have seats for customers waiting for their phones to finish charging. Urban also sells the chargers, and customers who connect to the store's Wi-Fi can be sent coupons and offers, but that's not the same as getting them out among the racks.

On the other hand, the tables could give a low-key opportunity for sales associates to make good use of the iPads that the chain is using as mobile point-of-sale devices to replace conventional cashwraps. With charging customers as a semi-captive audience, associates could ask what the shoppers are interested in, personally point out sales or specials, and individually do what the chain would normally rely on apps for.

For more:

- See this Mobile Commerce Daily story

Related stories:

Urban Outfitters Gets Its Own Zip Code Class-Action Lawsuit Attempt
Urban Outfitters' E-Commerce Paradox: Higher Prices Online
Urban Outfitters Dumps Cash Registers For iPads