Ecommerce has transformed the way we shop. In 2020, over 2 billion people purchased goods or services online, and sales surpassed 4.2 trillion US dollars worldwide. The global pandemic also led to the high uptake of contactless transactions, which is fast becoming the ‘normal’ way to shop.
As a result, the retail industry has had to adapt to meet the expectations of today’s digital consumer, and industries, such as parking, are following suit.
Innovations in smart parking have caused a cultural change. For several years now, drivers have been able to find and pay for parking spots using mobile apps. Parking operators can now focus on convenience in a way that just wasn’t possible with old-style ticketing.
But despite parity in the online booking funnel, parking differs from retail ecommerce. For the customer travelling to a sporting or music event or arriving at the airport at the start of a holiday, parking is a transient process, not the end product.
It’s good news for venues. By taking control of on-site parking and using ecommerce principles to optimise the potential of parking facilities, parking goes from being an afterthought to becoming an avenue for strong revenue growth and visitor engagement.
How to ace parking ecommerce
Whether your business centres on parking or car parking facilities are ancillary to your main ‘gig’, these tips will help you optimise space, regulate tariffs and get the most out of your parking app, providing the best service to your customers:
- The car park should never be full. When you reach 95% capacity and people are still coming, either the price point is wrong, or there is no alternative.
- The car park should never be empty either. If the car park is empty, you have a poor proposition, and there are plenty of alternatives. Improve your product and service pricing accordingly.
- Optimise your price point using data. Integrate your parking app with the Rezcomm Marketplace and use our powerful reporting tools to gain a 360-degree view of customer booking behaviours and capacity. Discount prices to encourage more bookings at low use times and set premium rates during peak hours.
- Don’t get into a price war unless you need to. Value your proposition.
- Consistently deliver the best possible service. Remember, a customer’s car usually is their second most valuable asset. It’s essential to provide an environment where they feel their car is safe, at a price point that represents your brand and the services you have on offer.
- Get to know the people who park with you. Hone in on specifics, such as whether they are parking to shop or parking to work. Identify their gender, age, income level and interests. All of this information can be curated to personalise communications so you can speak to individual customers and provide tailored offers and recommendations to boost conversions.
- Take care of the basics within your car parks. Ensure that the site surface is sound and safe, and keep the lights working well so that customers feel secure. Staircases and lifts should be kept clean and usable, and there should be staff on hand to help.
- Your technology should work and be reliable. There’s nothing more frustrating for customers than being faced with an ‘easy’ option that actually makes life more difficult.
- Make sure you have enough staff to serve the customer, whether locally or remotely.
- Offer convenient support services. Customers don’t want to wait for ages for a shuttle bus transfer or stand at an intercom ‘help’ point while you struggle to get a response to them. Offering convenience and quick response times are vital to achieving customer satisfaction and ensuring customers feel valued.
- Don’t overlook the importance of clear signage and legible directions. Make sure that wayfinding is clear and guides the customer through the journey.
- Parking is a means to an end, facilitating an onward journey or service, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable. Provide as much information as possible about the parking facility to make life easier for your customers and eliminate potential stress. Make sure the information is easy to access and clearly explains your products and services.
- If you get the other attributes of your parking proposition correct, the price should be 3, 4 or 5 on your list of priorities. Value is significantly more important than price for the majority of parking customers.
- Enhance your offer with value-added services that appeal to your customers based on customer demographics/user profiles. These could include car wash, valet, drop-and-go, and load my shopping options. Make it quick and simple for your customers to purchase add-ons with Rezcomm’s easy-to-use Reservations system.
- Convenience can be critical. For many drivers, particularly those driving for business, time is money. Consider tailoring your offer at a premium to exceed expectations.
- When a new retail establishment includes an excess of parking spaces, oversupply can be a killer for existing car parks. Get smart. Stack it high and sell it low. You won’t win over every customer who prefers the convenience of on-site parking. Still, you can use data to determine the tipping point between being a cheap option / a reasonably priced overflow and being the only option.
- When there is high demand and under-supply of parking spaces, you can price the product accordingly. But don’t get greedy. If the driver has to make a ‘distress purchase’, you will soon lose customers if there is an alternative place to park.
- Share product/pricing policies with your customers that they recognise and trust. Incentives could include loyalty points or a reward scheme, fixed low-cost tariffs, early-bird booking deals or last-minute discounts.
- Use availability rules in your online reservations software to personalise the product in the search tool. Offer deals such as weekend specials, business packages, holiday value and more.
- The fundamental objective for any parking asset owner or operator is simple: rent a space as often as possible for as much as possible!
- Utilise cost-effective channel partners and manage them well, technically and commercially. Never let them manage you!
- Never underestimate the power of digital. Technology is fundamentally disrupting parking – take advantage or get left behind.
- The real world and the world of pixels are more intimately tied together than conventional wisdom might have you believe. Your digital and on-site branding should be consistent to build customer trust, and the functionality of your parking app should represent your entire product and service offering.
- Digital sales are fast becoming the norm, but it still pays for customer acquisition, retention, and spending, to invest in good old-fashioned customer service. According to American Express, 7 out of 10 US consumers say they’ve spent more money to do business with a company that delivers excellent service. Additionally, Temkin Group reports that a moderate increase in customer experience generates an average revenue increase of $823 million over three years for a company with $1 billion in annual revenues.
- Word-of-mouth is a powerful thing, and people far prefer genuine recommendations to direct advertising. In fact, 84% of consumers say they trust peer recommendations above all other sources of advertising. Incorporate reviews into your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and incentivise customers to give their feedback.
Ready to transform your parking business? Choose the Rezcomm Marketplace and experience the power of a single platform behind you. We’ve delivered 100s of millions in revenue for our parking partners – so why don’t you join us? Contact the team today to find out more.