PARKING is unlikely to be used by everyone, parking providers should definitely consider implementing the technology for a variety of reasons. The service offered by Parkmobile is, theoretically, easy to use. Drivers can pre-register their details via phone, online or on the designated app. Once registered, users can then call, text, log into the app, or book their parking online. Upon arrival at the parking area, users must enter the number which should be signposted, followed by the length of time they intend to stay. This time limit can be controlled by the app and users, should they decide to stay longer, can top up their time limit as suits them. This information is made available to parking attendants who can check via mobile device if a car has paid for parking by typing in its number plate. When users return to their car they must then update the app or call the designated number to signify departure. The payment is then taken at a later date and a receipt is made available for the user online. The user benefits are simple yet effective: no need for change; remotely extendable parking times; text message updates when your paid time is due to run out; and the ability to manage your account online. Parkmobile’s provider benefits are also basic: offering tailormade time limiting options; individual site numbers to ensure payment goes to the correct party; promotional assistance; an easily integrated system; and, invaluably, the ability to monitor customer behaviour. It sounds useful, but for many parking feels more of a right than a privilege, and as phones become increasingly convoluted with apps edging consumers to the mindset of ‘what’s in it for me’, giving them an additional incentive might be the next step for parking providers.
A REWARDING EXPERIENCE Launching a trial in Sunderland is Newcastle based tech company, Proxismart, which has developed an app that aims to save shoppers money on their parking. The app was developed by head of ProxiSmart, Chris Reed, in just under a year, and has
SHOPPING CENTRE MARCH 2017
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already claimed victory as a regional winner of KPMG’s Best British Mobile Startup awards, as well as being named as one of the Best 10 Tech Startups in the North at Tech North’s Northern Stars awards. The app, named ParkingPerx, works in co-operation with brands and allows users to earn rewards from retailers which can then be used to pay car parking charges. Reed claims that the technology will serve to coax shoppers into shopping areas. “City centres have seen a decline in trade in recent years and car parking is the biggest barrier to trade. ParkingPerx is great for consumers as you can earn free parking and retailers can incentivise spending. It is a simple model using new technology.” Sunderland’s Business Improvement District’s marketing and communications manager, Gemma Dishman, thinks the app could be a 'game changer' for city centre shopping and will help in the ongoing war against online retail. "ParkingPerx does what the best apps do – makes life easier and provides valuable incentives to shop local," she says. "Once the pilot is complete we hope that more and more retailers will get on board as it is a win/win for everyone. Shoppers can gather credits to use for their parking while merchants can use it as an opportunity to incentivise people to come in to the city centre." The system uses Smart Beacon technology, which sends smart messages to users when they park and shop. Its features include one-touch parking and the ability to extend a stay in a car park without having to return to the car. "Each retailer decides on what their offer or discount is going to be so the benefits will differ from shop to shop," says Reed. "And the shopper simply presents their phone at the till to claim their reward, just like existing contactless payments systems. The solution then awards the user their ParkingPerx which they can use as a credit to pay for their parking fees." ParkingPerx uses Smart Beacon technology, which transmit a unique bluetooth signal that can cover any distance from 50cm to 70m. Smart Beacons are set up in and around car parks and parking spaces and make what the company call