When India witnessed a mushrooming of malls, people started thronging to them, an easy one-stop shop space where you could park your car with ease, dine-in, and buy various products. However, with the escalating traffic, high parking rates and an increase in wait time, parking has slowly become deterrent to our mall visits.
A significant contributor to our retail experience is the parking facility and service available in the commercial space. It’s not uncommon for consumers to base their choice of visiting a mall or store based on the convenience of parking. Let us look at the various facets that impact parking and our shopping experience.
Where one goes shopping depends on factors like distance from home, the choice of goods available, pricing and ease of parking. Car parking is the first and last activity in the process and hence, a positive experience guarantees a revisit. Parking management and policies, therefore, make or break consumer loyalty. If the parking experience is not satisfying, not only will the parking facility see a drop in revenue, the revenue of the entire complex is potentially affected, as people look towards better-managed options.
Moreover, malls do not maintain uniformity in pricing. Some charge more on weekends due to increased demand and some offer free parking or reimbursements on shopping. High rates or difficulty in finding parking compels consumers to seek other options. High parking rates also force people to park outside the facility and in residential areas, creating congestion and angering residents.
The Consumer Perspective
Consumer loyalty thrives on freebies and a feel-good factor. Hence, a free parking facility or a well-managed lot is preferred over other centers. However, mall goers are willing to pay a small premium for parking if their vehicles are deposited in a safe and secure environment and they don’t have to worry about towing or theft while they spend some leisure time.
Also, incentives like reimbursement of parking fee on shopping, lottery on parking tickets, free parking on certain days, free valet service, car spas and waivers on the first hour go a long way in making the retail experience more enjoyable.
What Mall Management Says
Reduced traffic in malls spells doom for the management. Chaotic parking facilities contribute significantly to this trend. As there is a lacuna in the parking policy, mall management should exercise discretion on whether to charge parking fee or not and to increase rates on high traffic days. However, the management argument is that a completely free parking service makes it difficult to generate substantial revenues to recover the costs of construction and operation of the lot.
What the Tenants Say?
Paid parking means more revenue. A well-managed parking lot means more customers and in turn higher sales and profits for tenants occupying retail spaces. Also, tenants stand to benefit from the system of paid parking as it acts as a filter for genuine customers and visitors.
What Parking Management Companies Say?
As parking plays an important role in the retail experience, parking management companies have to go the extra mile to ensure comfort and safety in the lots. This requires recurrent operations and management costs and justifies their practice of charging a nominal parking fee.
In return, they need to ensure that the lots are congestion-free and drivers find parking conveniently. To this end, most companies have started engaging the services of platforms like Get My Parking, an app that smoothens the process of parking by identifying a parking spot for you as you enter the building or even pre-booking it for you. The trend towards the use of technology to provide a seamless parking experience implies increased spending by the company.
Since there is an increase in the use of state-of-the-art technology that requires constant upgrades, levying a parking fee becomes imperative. However, India requires uniform laws to regulate the parking fee imposed by companies. Customers will be willing to pay parking fee if there is an efficient, safe and congestion-free parking system in place and they are not forced to opt out of visiting specific shopping malls due to mounting parking concerns.