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High Wycombe shoppers delighted by simplicity of new store parking

When NEXT decided to build their new store in High Wycombe, they knew that every element of the shopping experience was paramount to get right in order for the store to be a success. This included the first and last touchpoints of that experience: the car park.

NEXT engaged Clearview Intelligence to provide a solution using simple bay monitoring technology and VMS signs that would enable shoppers to see at a glance where there were spaces in this split level 158 space car park, without having to drive around endlessly in search of that one space. And it works.

At the start of 2015 Clearview Intelligence Ltd were asked by NEXT plc, a leading UK & International fashion and homeware retail brand, to help them take their shopping experience to new heights.

The retailer was rolling out a new flagship store concept in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire that is to become the blueprint for future stores. For their stores to become the vibrant, successful retail destination they envisaged, every element of the shopping experience had to be optimised, including the store's 158 bay customer car park.

From their large portfolio of existing stores, NEXT recognised that the first and last touchpoints of the shopping experience for many customers usually involved frustration and wasted time locating an available space or manoeuvring their way around a car park. They found that the emotion felt by customers at this time heavily influenced how they shopped and the likelihood of gaining them as a regular long-term customer.

Providing a conventional car park with clear bay markings and good lighting would not be sufficient to produce the transformation in shopper experience they were looking to pioneer. The solution required coverage of 158 parking spaces split over two levels, including giving roadside advice on whether the car park is full or has spaces as well as specific guidance within the car park via a number of additional VMS signs to guide customers to the nearest available Parent & Child or Disabled bays.

Clearview Intelligence began work on the system design in January and completed installation and commissioning of the entire system including a number of bespoke VMS signs ahead of the scheduled store opening date at the beginning of April.

Given the granular level of shopper guidance desired, the M300 Wireless Vehicle Occupancy Detection system was the natural choice; in-ground sensors installed in each bay provide individual bay monitoring as well as enabling global monitoring of the entire car park. The sensors relay vehicle movement data to a local wireless gateway, which then feeds the data into a cloud based parking application.

The store can now monitor use in real-time, analyse car park use over time, look at patterns of use in particular zones and even individual bays. The software also talks directly to strategically placed Variable Message Signs around and outside the car park to inform customers in realtime about the status of the car park areas and to guide them to the nearest available space as they enter the car park.

Nick Lanigan, Managing Director of Clearview Intelligence says "Retail stores are an everyday destination and all too often our shopping experience is tainted from the start because of wasting time inanely driving around the car park searching for a single free space. Giving shoppers a positive experience at this initial touchpoint is central to inspiring how they perceive the store, how they shop and may ultimately affect the lifetime value of that customer to the store.

Employing the M300 system with the VMS signs around the store's car park immediately connects the shopper with available parking spaces on arrival, impressing and delighting the customer from the start, enabling them to maximise their time in-store to enjoy what the store has to offer. From the store's perspective, a happy shopper with time on their hands is likely to pick up more than they went in for and will leave having enjoyed a much better experience. They are far more likely to return than the disgruntled shopper who had to rush around, couldn't find what they wanted and left feeling nothing but cheated out of their time."

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