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Finding the Right Ecommerce Provider for Your Parking Business

23 Jan 2020
Marc Ive

Parking is an industry that is sometimes overlooked, even in the ancillary services category, simply because, by its nature, it provides a means to an end. Parking facilitates an onward journey or experience. Nobody ever just pops out for a drive so they can enjoy the car park. However, parking is an important avenue for airports, both in terms of non-aeronautical revenue and customer relations, and ecommerce parking is a growing industry in its own right.

What’s changing in parking?

Today’s digitally savvy customer expects a parking experience in line with the modern convenience economy. In fact, whatever the product or service, consumers increasingly demand the slick, omnichannel experience they’ve become used to on retail ecommerce sites. And when they don’t get it, they’re swift to take their custom elsewhere. If your airport or parking company is looking to partner with an ecommerce parking solution, it’s important to understand current best practice, customer expectations, and trends in technology. Only in this way can you develop future-proof strategies that most benefit your customers, staff and bottom line.

Innovation plays an important role, and as people acclimatise to mobile payments, parking apps are on the rise. These allow parking operators to fulfil online reservations through responsive design across devices, using internal technology systems to provide customers with real-time availability and dynamic pricing. According to Worldpay’s 2018 Global Payment Report, mobile payments are forecast to encompass 28% of all point-of-sale transactions by 2022, surpassing credit cards and cash.

Online parking reservation systems have the dual benefits of convenience and satisfaction for the customer and actionable data for the business.

Other factors at play in parking ecommerce include an aging and increasingly mobile population who engage with environmental issues.
According to the Office for National Statistics, 18.3% of people in the UK are now aged 65 and over, and by 2050 it is projected that one in four will be over the age of 65. This older generation demands well-lit, accessible facilities.

Consumers are more environmentally conscious and interested in greener solutions too. They want to cut their environmental impact and get from A to B without wasting time and fuel.

Demand for airport parking is high. According to a recent Airport Business report, airport parking is the next big area for growth, with both leisure and business travel still on the increase. Airport footfall is forecast to double to 14 billion worldwide by 2029, and parking solutions can drive a 10% increase in revenue within the first year. What’s more, parking offers further opportunities for ancillary revenue, as customers want the flexibility to use add-on services such as EV charging stations or to have their car washed while they are away.

What about operational innovation?

As well as the plethora of consumer apps, there is increasingly sophisticated software available to manage the operational side of the parking business. As the parking industry is impacted by evolving customer expectation, it is more important than ever to stay current in the marketplace, and these ecommerce CRM systems offer visibility and accountability.

There are many ecommerce website apps on the market, offering features to facilitate the smooth running of your parking business. Ecommerce apps allow you to increase sales and open up new revenue streams. They allow you to provide your customers with the information they need to make the best purchase decision for them, and crucially they make it possible to keep track of stock quantity and value and see which products are the most popular and profitable.

However, parking is different from retail in that sales are based on a set inventory of parking spaces in a single location. The car park won’t come to the customer, and the customer won’t park miles away from their ultimate destination. Consumers demand easy access, choice and value, but at the same time, they are happy to spend more for good service.

Because parking has a unique range of challenges, it’s important to choose an ecommerce solution run by a team who understand the industry. Rezcomm’s platform is backed by many years of parking industry experience. Used by leading car-parking operators, it offers flexible, cost-effective tools to maximise digital parking sales and improve customer satisfaction. The reporting and analytics tools make it easy to apply strategic, data-driven decisions.

You can read more about reporting automation and its benefits in terms of customer service, operational efficiency and revenue in our Ecommerce Goldmine.

So what should you look for in a parking ecommerce system?

Mobile capabilities

The number of smart devices continues to rise, as does the amount of sales that take place using these connected devices. The last half-decade has seen significant changes in the area of mobile payment, and there are now more mobile payment solutions than ever before. The consumer is shifting ever further from physical cash, embracing digital currencies.

In fact, nearly 80% of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last 6 months, and the mobile share of ecommerce in 2019 was 67.2%. While general retail sales still show strong conversion rates on desktop, parking is unique in being location based – prime for the mobile user.

An integrated car booking system like Rezcomm offers a customisable online storefront with built-in mobile commerce facility, so your online booking is available across devices. Rezcomm’s platform has been customer-tested to be perfectly intuitive and easy to use even on a small screen.

Automate important emails

A CRM system like Rezcomm that offers integrated marketing as part of the car booking process allows you to develop targeted email marketing strategies. The system makes it easy to automatically identify the needs and preferences of individual customers, personalise messages that up and cross-sell products like car wash or EV charging services.

Recover abandoned checkout

Cart abandonment is major issue across online retail, and parking is not immune, despite the fact that it is location specific. The online cart abandonment rate in the travel industry is a whopping 82.2%, significantly higher than the 68-74% seen in retail and other industries. The reasons that customers abandon mid-purchase include off-putting extra costs, the need to create an account, and overly long and complicated checkout processes.

A study by Optilead of 50 of the UK’s biggest parking companies found customer service failures were endemic in parking. In 200 test bookings (150 where the cart was abandoned and 50 where a request for call-back was made) 96% of companies failed to call the customer on the number provided at any time, despite the fact that the average cost per lost booking was £170.26. In fact, only 14% of those companies tested responded to cart abandonment at all. And while the optimum response time for an abandoned transaction is around 15 minutes, the average time it took for each company to get back in touch with the customer was over 15 hours!

An ecommerce system that works in line with your needs as a parking operator will help you to recover lost sales by automatically sending an email to prospective customers with a link to their abandoned shopping basket, encouraging them to complete their purchase. This can be easily set up in your e-marketing dashboard to catch the customer within the crucial 15-minute timeframe.

Stay user-friendly and attractive

With so much competition and distraction coming from other app notifications on a mobile device, it’s important to create a smooth, good-looking online shopping experience that encourages repeat visits and purchasing.

A high-quality ecommerce platform can transform the experience for your customers. Providing visitors with a simple booking experience that is intuitive, corresponds with your brand aesthetic, loads quickly and is easy to use is imperative. These details will ensure your online booking offering is a success, and will avoid the frustration of abandoned transactions. If a customer has a pleasant and easy experience using your e-shop to park, they are more likely to choose your parking facility next time.

Rezcomm is the first airport ecommerce platform to integrate industry best-practice maps of your parking facilities, so that the customer can see at a glance, and in a familiar, user-friendly format, exactly what it is they are booking. It’s also easy to integrate upsells and special offers into the checkout process, as users can easily visualise what they’ll get for that extra spend.

Link up with local business and venues

Even with your parking inventory running to optimum capacity there are opportunities to increase revenue through advertising. An online platform like Rezcomm allows you to offer advertising space where you can monetise your visitor traffic and promote complementary products and services. If your parking asset is based at an airport, you can partner with airlines to advertise new destinations or with retailers and food and beverage concessions to promote special offers and personalised product recommendations.

A pricing structure that works for your car park

An ecommerce provider who understands the parking industry will help you to manage availability and capacity and view live occupancy, to compare gate prices to pre-book prices and identify the prices that will encourage your customers to book in advance. This allows you to build a pricing structure where multiple tariffs can apply to the same parking space depending on seasonal or event-based demand, or on real-time availability.

Measure your performance

By using operational reports that show real-time visibility of the arrival and departure associated with each customer’s visit, you will be able to plan for peak times and determine how much resource is required to manage visitor expectation and experience. The inbuilt reporting system in an ecommerce shop should also be able to forecast real-time revenue projections, track sales and referrals and create bespoke reports. You should also be able to connect to your own ERP system, making it possible to export reports into your favourite spreadsheet tool for analysis where necessary. These reporting functions are all integral to better operational efficiency and revenue growth, because they make it possible to see and act on exactly how your inventory is working in real time.

Will ecommerce software work for you?

If you haven’t yet explored the world of ecommerce for your parking inventory, or if you’re already online but would like to know if there is more you could be doing to optimise both revenue and customer satisfaction, consider implementing an industry-tailored software like Rezcomm.

It’s important to evaluate your needs carefully when choosing a future-proof solution for your ecommerce parking. Rezcomm can highlight ways in which you can improve your booking journey and checkout process, suggest strategies proven to work in the parking industry and offer help to generate more site traffic and increase revenue.

Rezcomm is the technology partner of choice for airports and car park operators worldwide. Check out our Ecommerce Goldmine to find out more about how our reporting automation tools can give you the tools to engage your customers, offer a world-class customer experience and improve your bottom line.