How to Create a Safe and Secure Parking Experience in a Post-Pandemic World
March 2020 will go down in history as the month the world retreated to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Behavioral changes due to COVID-19
In two short weeks, we’ve seen massive shifts in behavior at the personal, professional, and consumer levels. Communities began to practice social-distancing. Workers adapted to work-from-home. Personal vehicles became safer modes of transportation than public transient and shared mobility services. And consumers relied on curbside pick-up and delivery of food, while retail shoppers maintained 6-ft of personal space. Lines on the floor mark six-foot increments to help customers maintain their social distance during the coronavirus outbreak while waiting to check out at the Walgreens in Cherry Hill, N.J., on March 21, 2020.
The need for retailers to extend a safe and secure retail environment to the parking lot
For brick-and-mortar retailers, evaluating these behavioral changes as momentary or enduring becomes critical, especially as businesses look to adopt long-term practices to keep customers safe and secure in a post-pandemic world, a.k.a. The new normal.
In this new normal, the retail shopping experience no longer begins at the front door, but rather in the parking lot with the rise of “pick-up” shopping.
“Retailers now face the question: How can I extend a safe and secure shopping experience out into the parking lot? ”
Retailers with gated parking assets can promote a safer shopping experience by controlling the occupancy of a parking garage or lot. For retailers that have non-gated parking assets, this can be a trickier question.
One potential answer for non-gated parking assets is to implement a Retail Customer Parking Solution that can drive customer loyalty and incremental revenue with non-customers. Implementing a Retail Customer Parking Solution delivers a level of accountability and control over non-gated retail parking assets not available previously. Some of the benefits of a Retail Customer Parking Solution are below.
Three benefits of a Retail Customer Parking Solution over a free parking model
1: Safe and Secure Customer and Non-Customer Experience
Sectors where the customer experience is front-and-center, like hospitality and retail, have been decimated due to social distancing and shelter-in-place mandates. Business Insider reports more than 90 major retail brands are temporarily closing. “Morgan Stanley analysts found that early March total retail traffic fell 9.1%.”
There are empowering stories of retail businesses that are finding different ways to engage with their customers from a distance. For example, the catering department of Austin-based restaurant Chuy’s Tex-Mex offered dinner meal kits that included a gallon of milk and toilet paper; the dinner kits sold out for the entire weekend within hours.
In a post-pandemic retail world, retailers will need to move past promotional offerings towards operational solutions that equally delight and still keep customers safe. For example, with a Retail Customer Parking solution, like Flex Lots, retailers can:
• Implement an inexpensive, mobile-based management application that converts chaotic free parking to a customer-centric retail parking model
• Offer complimentary, easy-to-find prime parking to customers
• Monetize underutilized parking into low-cost, worry-tow-free parking to non-customers.
With easy-to-read signage outlining customer and non-customer parking, retailers can reward their customers, control occupancy and parking density for safety reasons, and gain incremental revenue.
2: Revenue Diversification (Don’t Forget Parking!)
Often viewed as a necessary evil of the retail shopping experience, the pandemic has cast parking assets in a new light as to their versatility and value. For example, CVS Health and other big-box retailers are looking to use their parking lots as drive-thru testing centers, while hospitals are converting parking facilities into make-shift field hospitals, like Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
There is no denying this global event is going to push the retail industry to evolve the way it thinks about parking assets. For retailers that have seen their traditional retail revenue plummet over the last few weeks, it is clear that diversification is essential, and incremental parking revenue with a Retail Customer Parking Solution is an easy first step.
3: New Source of Business Intelligence on Customer Behaviors
A significant advantage of a Retail Customer Parking solution, like Premium Parking’s parking experience solution, Flex Lots, is retailers gain a valuable line of insight on customers and paid-parkers. Newly capture data includes:
• Traffic patterns - peak arrival times and days-of-week
• Dwell times - average duration of stay
• Traceability - who is on location, frequency of visit
This new line of business intelligence helps retailers make better business decisions around asset planning.
For example, with a system like Flex Lots, retailers can analyze utilization data to determine future parking asset applications. Better insight helps retailers drive revenue literally outside the retail box as well as influence safety and security planning for retail properties and their parking assets.
DELIVERING VALUE IN A POST-PANDEMIC WORLD
One thing is for sure the COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting effect on retail operations and consumer behaviors, like pick-up shopping. And the need for clear and managed parking policy is more important than ever. With Flex Lots by Premium Parking you get a parking partner that specializes in controlling gateless parking operations across the country.
In an age when customers have more retail choices than ever before, a Retail Customer Parking solution adds value to the overall retail experience by ensuring a safe, secure, and differentiated retail shopping experience for customers and even non-customers.
This is taken from Premium Parking’s blog. You can log on here.