The success or demise of retail spaces relies on efficiency, organization and profitability. This applies to both the inner workings of the retail stores and the parking structure around which they’re built.
A disorganised, chaotic parking system in a retail centre could mean havoc for the flow of daily life and schedules. By making it a goal to achieve the most user friendly parking system, relevant to that space, retail stores can see great benefits and long term improvements.
We took a closer look at the potential issues faced by retail spaces in terms of parking to help you identify very implementable solutions.
What are the Issues?
A parking lot, or parkade, is usually the first thing one encounters when entering a retail centre. It’s your first point of contact with the space and will be the first impression you get from the institution.
Due to the nature of retail, a badly managed parking system could even inconvenience individuals who are in time sensitive situations. Let’s look at key issues that need solutions.
Not Enough Space
Probably the most common issue, particularly in larger retail venues, not enough space for the influx of patrons is a big issue that needs solving.
This problem is likely seasonal, and stores will face the most congestion around festive seasons or holidays when spending money is encouraged. The influx of vehicles with shoppers all trying to visit the centre will put strain on the existing parking structure.
The bigger the institution, the bigger the parking needs to be. It’s that simple. Yet too often we see shopping centres with parking lots not proportionate to their consumer capacity.
Within the existing lots there’s sometimes a system of poor vehicle flow. Narrow lanes and too many direction options can cause backlog or bottlenecks.
Sometimes the easiest solution is the implementation of “one ways”. Retail lots that force cars to move in a single direction tend to be a bit more efficient than those that allow free driving.
Another issue with retail parking systems is that they can become abused or neglected when there’s no payment process in place.
Shopping centres are usually central to city centres or places of interest. For this reason, many individuals like to make use of them for day parking without actually making use of the stores, especially if the lots are free to use.
This in turn takes away valuable parking space that could be used by actual attending customers. When there’s no system in place to collect money from users then there’s little control over who can and does make use of the lot.
Is there a better way forward?
Based on the most prominent concerns, city planners, business owners and even patrons should consider these solution in future plans.
Controlling access to parking lots is becoming more and more popular. Patrons see huge benefits to barricaded spaces and privatizing of parking. Why? Safety of course.
In addition, by installing parking ticket machines, parking payment machines, Smart Scan technology and bollards a retail centre can regain control over the use of its space. So it’s an advantage for retailers too.
Implementing access control systems in retail lots is the surest way to:
- Increased efficiency
- Profit gaining
- Vehicle safety
- Ensure individuals are less likely to abuse the facilities because there are security measures in place to monitor their actions
In a parking lot with more user friendly systems in place, the positive effects will resonate through to the actual retail businesses. From the minute customers arrive they’re at ease because they were able to park safely and efficiently.
The benefits are endless and companies such as Advance Access offer all inclusive packages of installation, making it an effortless solution.
Full Time Guards
This is something that many shopping centrelots already have in place, and it will stay important despite technological developments.
The continuous presence of a guard at both paid and free retail parking lots makes a big difference:
- Guards provide a watchful eye over the parking process and can help if there’s a tech problem
- They can assist where necessary to make things more user friendly.
- Criminals are less likely to take action when there are trained witnesses and guards on site.
- It enables other management options to take place. Guards can sign customers in and ensure that they really are there to use the facilities¬ just the free parking.
Dedicating time to designing a well structured parking lot can make a big difference to the user friendliness of the space.
Here’s an example: If a shopping centre is large, consider building up, not out. Building stacked parkades is the surest way to being able to accommodate the quantity of cars expected on a daily basis.
Parkades are also helpful because additional space can be added for the vehicles of non-shopping individuals as well. By charging a fee to use the parkade, the money can be earned quickly from both shoppers and the public.
Benefits for Retail Stores
There are some obvious benefits to implementing any of the above in a poorly managed retail parking space:
- Efficiency for customers and staff of the premises
- Opportunity to make profit from charging to park
- Safer spaces for patrons to keep their vehicles
- A relaxed and welcoming point of entry for everyone visiting the retail stores
- Database and systematic methods of data collection to use in future planning
- Less chance of congestion and thus less chance of inconveniencing time sensitive visitors
- Enough space for all visitors, even in high congestion seasons
In this day and age it’s imperative for retail store parking to be as user friendly as possible. Consumers are used to getting what they want and will demand good service or go elsewhere. The future of the business relies on successful flow of daily activity, parking included.
Thankfully there are structures and access control systems that can easily rectify the issues you face today. Start with an audit, implement a solution and enjoy the results.