Subscriptions are here to stay

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We choose something to buy. We pay for it. It turns up. We use it. This certainly true to a lot of things we buy. However, we also buy things that cost us something every month. The usual suspects here – energy, phone, council tax – have been this way for at least as long as we have been paying for them. This is a very consumer-oriented thing. We have also bought things for a fixed price and pay them off over several years – usually the bigger purchases – cars and houses. 

A few years ago, the phone industry changed a little bit. At the end of my last contract, I was offered a two-part purchase plan. First was the phone price – which was fixed – and I would be paying that off over several years. Second was the airtime price. I pay this for the length of the contract and then after that for as long as I want to. They had separated out the hardware and airtime. It was a fixed price purchase and a subscription.  

Then software companies started to do this. Instead of buying the CD with a generic office suite on it, we now have a generic office subscription. We have access to the software for as long as we pay the monthly.  

And then cars manufacturers got in on it. We can now get a car on a subscription. We get the car as long as we pay the monthly. They are even trialling subscription services on car features. Trial heated seats on the new car for 3 months. If we want to carry on having a nice warm bum in the winter, we pay the additional each month. Fair enough.  

This is all still consumer driven. We now expect what we buy to be available as a subscription. Home security, fitness, music, TV, even dinner. We get the service for as long as we pay. Some of these have minimum terms, some of them can be cancelled at any time.  

How do we bring this into the business world? Microsoft are already doing it. Salesforce have been doing it for years. We have been able to lease a car for a long time. So, it’s not new. There are however some industries where this has never really been seen. Primarily, parking.  

This industry has pretty much always been the classic – choose what we want, buy it, pay for it, it turns up, people use it. Of course, the maintenance contracts have been in place for years, but the actual hardware has always been a pre-installation purchase.  

It’s time we changed that. It’s time we opened the market to give more car park operators the opportunity to have high quality equipment on a subscription basis. This is “Parking as a service” and it is a new way to be a car park operator. You pay nothing up front. Just choose what solution you want, choose what features you want your customers to use and then pay a single subscription each month. If you add more functionality, you pay a bit more each month.  

All of this as a single subscription.  

Think of all the pay and display car parks in the UK. Think of all the machine management, cash management and enforcement management that could be removed just by installing a parking as service solution.  

Think of the massively improved customer experience. Think of all the additional services you could add in. ANPR, reservations, permits, EV charging, offers and discounts. All of this on a single subscription. 

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