Convenient Parking Will Help Physical Retail Compete With Online

We’re all looking forward to getting back to normal life. But in many ways things will never be quite the same. This is almost certainly the reality for retail. There’s every chance that the pandemic will have accelerated the move towards online shopping and away from physical stores.

Many predict that shopping – in the sense of going to a shop – will become much more about the experience than it is about a need to buy things. So where does that leave shopping centres and retail parks?

Competing with online shopping and luring people back to retail parks has to focus on the entire experience. And that experience starts with parking. In fact, it starts before the moment when you reverse your car into a space. First you have to find and enter the car park easily (without queuing) and quickly find your way to an empty space.

“Never Again!”

The last thing a retail centre with an uphill competitive struggle needs is a “never again!” moment before a customer gets near the shops.

Parking difficulties that existed before lockdown will still be there. But don’t expect consumers to be as tolerant now that many are used to and enjoy online shopping. With the shops shut they may have found other places to spend their leisure time. So they might decide to keep shopping online and do other things when they want a day out.

Now would be an excellent time to review whatever data and feedback you have on the parking experiences and satisfaction levels before lockdown. If there were issues before, they may well be magnified when things reopen.

You Have Options

There are plenty of options to make the parking experience less difficult. For example, ANPR technology can eliminate the need to queue at entry barriers and it can speed up the payment process. Lighting systems can be designed to highlight vacant spaces. Small changes like this can make a big impact.

If the problem is lack of capacity there may also be opportunities to expand the number of spaces quickly and without major upheaval.

Osborne and Siderpark have developed a modular parking system that can quickly add one or two decks to a surface-level car park. There are no foundations needed and the structure can be installed in a matter of weeks.

We can also look at the parking data you have concerning numbers and dwell time to design an optimised layout to suit the needs and behaviours of your visitors.

It’s inevitable that physical retail will have to up its game to compete. Getting your parking provision right is an excellent place to start.

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