Frustrated with finding a parking spot at the mall? There's an app for that.
As part of its Black Friday coverage, The New York Times last week profiled a number of parking apps that help shoppers with the chore of parking. With ParkMe, Parkopedia, ParkWhiz, Parking Spot, Parker and other apps, drivers may locate parking spots in shopping mall parking lots, nearby garages, or even city streets. In some locations, a spot can be reserved. In most cases, mall garages are outfitted with sensors that track cars going in and out to keep a tally on vacant spots.
Many apps also alert drivers to the closest and least expensive lots, as well as alternative garage entrances. QuickPay is among those that help shoppers pay for garage and metered spots and valet services from their smartphones.
Taubman Centers has installed sensors in the garages in two of its centers to show shoppers which floors they can find open parking spots. Installation costs $50,000 to $100,000 per location. Simon Property Group offers a free app that helps shoppers locate their parked car.
"They want real-time information, they want price choices and they want to be directed to an open space," Casey Jones, VP of institutional services at Standard Parking, a Chicago-based provider of parking facility management services, told the Times.
In Minneapolis, The Mall of America's mobile website provides live traffic information for the highways surrounding the mall and driving directions. The parking portion of the mobile web app includes a color system that lays over the parking lots: green means available; yellow is for congested; and red is busy. An alert icon also indicates if there's an accident or construction in a specific area.
The Mall of America also uses Twitter to inform visitors about mall parking conditions.
"While most people think of cost in monetary terms, there's also a cost in the amount of time you spend looking for something," Akshay Rao, a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management, told the Post-Bulletin. "If your total available mall shopping time is two hours, and your driving and parking time is 30 minutes, it reduces the amount of time you have to spend at the mall by 30 minutes."
How important is parking to consumers' perceptions of a retail store or shopping center?