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Christmas shopping - are you ready for the parking rush in 2017?

In a previous blog we took a look at the various considerations retail managers may have in managing their car parks during the Christmas rush, providing benefits to the operator of the car park, the users and the wider community at large.

But with the Christmas rush just about to descend on retail centres nationwide we know that there is going to be plenty on the Retail Managers plate without instigating major short term changes to the way car parks are monitored and run.

But no matter how busy the short term retail period may prove to be, it is worth noting that viewing car parks as an asset and working on optimising their efficiency should not be a peripheral concern in the overall planning and management of retail centres.

There are too many benefits in having a well-run parking operation to ignore for too long and by creating an enjoyable initial experience of arriving and parking it will put customers in a positive frame of mind and can lead to a higher propensity to spend.

So what could this 'parking' experience look like in the future?

Thinking about the whole customer journey, starting before they leave home, to arrival and shopping, through to departure should be part of the Retail Managers consideration.

This 'whole journey' thinking not only provides a good information service to customers but also opens the door to using the car parks as an asset, providing the opportunity to send early personalised marketing messages to influence purchasing decisions. So the first thing to note is that the experience could start well before the customer is anywhere near the premises.

Providing information on the car park status via live feeds to websites and apps gives customers the early heads up on which car parks have spaces and which roads may be congested on the approach. This need for information can allow retailers the opportunity to communicate marketing and sales messages much earlier than just waiting for the customer to enter a shop or see POS activities.

This opens up a new communication channel for your retail outlets to warm up the customer. For the customer there is the benefit of being able to better plan their journeys to the premises, avoiding queues or even just being aware of any expected delays due to heavy volume.

Once on the approach to the premises there is the opportunity to push further guidance on where to find parking spaces via Variable Message Signs (VMS) along with marketing messages to the customer's mobile phones, triggered by bluetooth connections. This can then develop over time as customers repeat visit and the marketing systems recognise this and push relevant and interesting sales messages dependent on previous purchasing activities.

Lets get the customers into the shops as quick as possible

The car park itself should provide clear signage and guidance to where available spaces can be found and with recent advances in mobile and online charging systems, along with the potential to pre-allocate spaces means there can be a far smoother and easier parking experience for customers. Meaning customers spend more time in the shops than sat outside them.

Understanding the utilisation of the car park, when are peak usage times, how long people are staying for, which spaces fill first, which areas are hardly used at all, misuse of certain bays for non-retail use and so on, means the retail manager can adjust and optimise the use of the spaces according to the needs of the local population.

Upon leaving the premises the monitoring systems can recognise that a number of people are departing at the same time and VMS and mobile phone messages can be adjusted to direct them off the site in the quickest manner possible. Again with perhaps the opportunity to send marketing messages to thank them for their custom.

Car parking solutions such as Clearview's Insight software will not only monitor and manage the signage and information given to visitors, but also provide real-time and periodic reporting to the operator of the car park. This data is the lifeblood of being able to influence the flow of traffic around a retail area. Being able to monitor and respond to peak traffic times, getting customers into parking spaces quicker and putting in place actions to reduce the traffic queues means the customers spend more time in the shops spending their money rather than sitting in their cars.

It's this level of seamless shopping experience that we are all heading towards in the near future and whilst the complete package may require software integration as part of the set up work it is certainly something that can and will start to happen.

If you'd like to start the discussion on how Clearview Intelligence can help facilitate and create improved customer experiences around your parking asset call us on +44 (0) 1869 362800 or Contact Us.

Author: |Date Published: September 2016

Links: Data Management Parking

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