Monday 31 May 2021

Are your Potential Retail Sector Clients Maximising their Income from Parking?

Ron Buck, Parking Revenue Sales Specialist, Bft Automation, explores how to make the most of revenue opportunities from owners and operators of shopping centre car parks.

As the retail sector and other “non-essential” businesses can open up again following the easing and eventual lifting of lockdown measures, shopping centres in particular will naturally be looking to make the most of any opportunities to generate additional funds. Car parks are a significant source of income for retail destinations, but, in many cases, centres are failing to realise their full revenue-generating potential.

An efficient and effective system is key to maximising income from car parks and ensuring a smooth shopping experience for visitors. But what are the key considerations when reviewing a centre’s parking provision?

In our experience, it’s best if those involved in the operational, financial and IT management of a shopping centre are all part of the decision-making process when it comes to investing in any new equipment or systems for the car park. 

And what each of these teams will agree on is the importance of having a robust system in place that will futureproof a car park by minimising downtime and flagging any potential problems quickly. Not only will this ensure minimal inconvenience for shoppers but it can of course save a lot of money.

For example, shopping centres can lose hundreds of pounds in a short space of time while waiting for a parking barrier to be fixed, while a long queue caused by a broken ticket machine could put shoppers off making a future visit. For shopping centres that are frequently losing money this way, the cost of introducing a new system would be far outweighed by this ongoing loss of revenue.

Data management

Another important factor to consider is data capture. Modern parking systems should allow shopping centres to measure and manage the daily flow of visits to a car park – providing valuable insight for retailers while allowing shopping centres to better structure their parking tariff framework. 

For instance, by measuring footfall, your clients could adjust the charges around peak times, or offer free parking timeslots to encourage visits at quieter times. Some shopping centres we’ve worked with have used this information to introduce a loyalty discount for frequent shoppers.

The right impression

The majority of visits to shopping centres continue to be made by car and, with public transport falling out of favour among those with concerns about social distancing, shoppers are set to continue to rely heavily on car parks when making their shopping trips, even for destinations in town and city centres.

As such, the shopping experience begins and ends in the car park, with the facilities setting the tone for the whole visit. Dark, cramped spaces with poor signage can put shoppers in a negative frame of mind and even make them feel unsafe.

By contrast, bright, clean, secure car parks with plenty of room to manoeuvre create a far more pleasant atmosphere that immediately puts visitors at ease.

With this in mind, your clients can create the right setting to not only encourage repeat visits but help put shoppers in the right frame of mind for spending more time and money at your centre, by taking steps such as making sure there are enough ticket machines and that they are easy to find.

Making sure a parking operation is running as efficiently as possible, including access to detailed data on how they are used, can help retail venues to maximise this income, while creating the right environment for shoppers – helping to encourage repeat trips at a time when this is more important than ever.

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