In the realm of parking, there used to be two primary journeys: drive to the entrance, take a ticket, park, pay at the machine at exit; or. Drive in, pay up front, display ticket, and drive out. Whether it was a barriered or a pay-and-display car park, physical payments, mostly in cash or card, were the norm. However, with the arrival of COVID-19, our expectations for public interactions changed. We now strive for touchless experiences, avoiding shared surfaces.
Alongside this shift, our needs as consumers have evolved. Smartphone ownership has skyrocketed, with 93% of adults owning one in 2022, compared to just 17% in 2008. We crave convenience and simplicity in every aspect of life, and if a process fails to meet those standards, we take our business elsewhere.
The Digital Dilemma
One potential solution is to go fully digital and eliminate physical payment options entirely. However, this approach comes with challenges. News articles have highlighted the downsides of relying solely on digital payments. It alienates a significant portion of the population who still prefer physical payment methods, albeit often in the form of card transactions. Some customers may be unaware of other payment options, while others may feel hesitant or uncomfortable with digital payments. These issues cannot be entirely eradicated, but they can be addressed through marketing and education.
On the other hand, sticking to traditional physical payment methods also presents problems. While they have served us well for years, there is an increasing number of customers seeking more modern and convenient payment solutions. Failing to meet these expectations may result in losing valuable business to competitors.
Striking a Balance
So, what is the best approach? The answer lies in providing customers with the payment options they desire, creating a seamless customer journey catered to their preferences. By offering physical payment options, such as card payments, you ensure that anyone who wishes to pay within the car park can do so. However, limiting yourself to just physical payments excludes a substantial group of customers.
Customers’ acceptance of digital payments has grown immensely, with online and mobile transactions becoming a regular part of their lives. By embracing digital payment solutions like prebooking, subscriptions, and pay-per-use options, operators can enhance convenience for customers and expand their payment choices. Moreover, implementing digital systems allows businesses to register and better understand their customers. An excellent example of this success can be seen at St Johns Shopping Centre in Liverpool, where a transition from a ticketed pay-on-foot car park resulted in an 84% increase in revenue and a 30% increase in known customers.
In addition to digital payments, consider implementing app free mobile pay solutions within the car park. By simply scanning a QR code, customers can effortlessly complete their payments using their smartphones. This innovative approach eliminates the need for queuing and minimises contact with payment machines, enhancing the overall customer experience.
Adapt and Embrace Digital Payments
To thrive in the digital age, parking operators must adapt their payment methods to align with evolving customer needs. By combining physical and digital payment options, businesses offer their customers the best of both worlds. Convenience and choice are essential in creating a positive customer journey. Whether customers prefer traditional card payments or the simplicity of mobile transactions, a well-rounded payment system will attract and retain loyal customers. Embrace digital payments, empower customers, and watch your parking revenue soar.
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