Parking Perfection

Parking Perfection

Emerging trends and new laws drive retail parking to the next level

When you’re thinking outside the “big box,” one of the most important things to consider is your parking lot. After all, if your customers don’t have access to safe and convenient parking, they may decide to skip your store altogether.

“Historically, there were three primary reasons retailers cared about their parking lots: safety, aesthetics and asset preservation,” said BJ Schlageter, Director of National Accounts with Rose Paving, a national paving company headquartered in Bridgeview, Ill.

However, when it comes to modern day parking lots, there’s much more for retailers to contemplate. “Believe it or not, online trends actually affect parking lots as well,” Schlageter emphasized. “Retailers are hypersensitive about creating an impactful customer experience, and it all starts with the moment they step foot on the parking lot.”

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, if online sales continue to grow at the current rate (almost 10 percent per year), online purchases will account for nearly 20 percent of total retail market share in 2025, more than 30 percent in 2030 and approximately half by 2035.

In an effort to curb this trend, brick-and-mortar retailers are working hard to create an enjoyable, stress-free shopping experience for in-store customers. And where does every retail shopper’s experience begin? You guessed it – the parking lot. This is why it’s critical for retailers to stay on top of the latest and greatest parking trends and carefully choose parking lot suppliers.

ADA Laws & Curbside Pickup

Schlageter said some of the most notable trends in today’s parking lots revolve around re-designing parking lots to comply with ADA laws. In 2010, the U.S. Department of Justice issued new regulations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). According to the ADA National Network website, “New construction projects must meet minimum standards with very few exceptions.” When a business restripes a parking lot, it must provide accessible parking spaces as required by the ADA Standards for Accessible Design.

According to Schlageter, online order pickups are also playing a role reshaping parking lots. “Brick-and-mortar retail is very important for customers, but there is more pressure on retailers to create a positive experience because customers have so many other options,” he explained. This is why an increasing number of brick-and-mortar stores are offering same-day pickup of online orders.

According to a 2017 Nielsen study, home delivery is the most common option for online shoppers, with 87 percent of orders shipped to the customer’s house. However, pickup options are on the rise. In 2017, 8 percent of online orders were fulfilled via in-store pickup, and 4 percent by curbside pick-up. In another study, Retail Systems Research and SPS Commerce reports that 61 percent of retailers worldwide now offer some kind of buy-online, pickup in-store (BOPIS) service. As this option becomes increasingly popular, many retailers are looking to create convenient curbside pickup areas in their parking lots.

Selecting a Stellar Supplier

As ADA laws become more stringent and curbside pickup continues to skyrocket in popularity, retail parking lots are undergoing a major transformation. In this evolving environment, it’s critical for retailers to carefully select parking lot suppliers.

He says it’s crucial for retailers to ask the right questions up front. Inquire about the company history, number of employees, in-house crew capabilities, subcontractor resources, recent projects, current backlog and customer referrals. “Once the customer can match their goals with the best contractor profile, it then comes down to the relationship,” Schlageter added. “Finding the right contact can make all the difference.” 

By: Amy Bell

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Published: December 17, 2018