As we digitalise our society, cash options for parking are becoming obsolete. Across the country, we’re seeing more and more local authorities phasing out pay-and-display machines, and usher in-app solutions as replacements. However, the growing uptake of cashless parking does not come without its own set of challenges.

Travelling from A to B, across counties and councils, and parking in different locations can sometimes be a frustrating experience. As a motorist, you can find yourself downloading many apps from various providers just to pay for parking. This is something most people would describe as a painful customer journey.

The headache of registering for new services, or retyping in personal details, payment information and locational data can occur even before you hit the high street, and there can be significant time wasted in the process. This is why it’s vital for parking providers to come together and improve the experience for all those drivers who encounter parking challenges.

What is multivendor market?

Luckily, there’s a new, open parking market developing in the UK to herald convenience for drivers. This advanced option will increase accessibility for cashless parking with a bigger range of payment choices and a better overall experience. We know it as the multivendor market.

Why is the multivendor market taking precedence? It boils down to promoting good user experience; keeping UX top-of-mind focus for UK councils.

Recently, Councillor Mike Greene, Portfolio Holder for Transport and Sustainability, BCP Council, said that going multivendor makes parking “simpler for everyone as they don’t need to match the location to a particular provider, and it gives users the chance to find the cheapest and most convenient app for them.”

With proper adoption and implementation, going multivendor will generate positive knock-on effects for transport and retail on a national scale.

The power of good parking experience

Parking is an inseparable part of a drivers’ journey and can influence how they move around towns and cities. In fact, it’s often overlooked that a good parking experience can encourage drivers to visit high streets without the usual stress.

A woman uses her phone to pay for her parking experience in the city.

Research highlights that 50% of motorists admit to avoiding particular retail parks or shopping centres because they predict parking issues. This is why properly managing parking experiences is about so much more than a rectangle of asphalt and a few white lines.

Providers should implement a solution that gives drivers a real choice, increases convenience, and improves the perception of transport.

How multivendor positively impacts drivers?

Through the multivendor approach, parking will evolve and grow with additional convenience. Traditionally, when you pull into a car park, find a spot, and look to pay, there is just one cashless parking app offered as an option. It is the one that the local council has picked and assigned to a particular area at some point in the last five years. The driver has no choice in the matter.

Multivendor remedies this issue. With it, councils can operate car parks that utilise more than one parking app, giving drivers the option to choose the most convenient one when paying for services. While this seems like common sense, it is a relatively new concept for the UK, one which really puts the power in motorist’s hands for the first time.

With the cashless option, drivers don’t have to spend time reading through vague signage or downloading multiple applications; they get to choose the app with the easiest user interface and benefit from stress-free parking experiences. Through multivendor implementation, wider accessibility of apps for parking puts driver convenience as a top priority. But the benefits don’t stop there – local authorities can reap rewards too, and I’ll discuss some of these advantages now.

How multivendor leads to better parking experience management for councils

The photo shows an app that can be used for tracking free parking spots and paying for services.

Multivendor options help local authorities manage the influx of cars on the road. With busier urban centres and physical retail on the rise, it’s vital to ensure that motorists have the right payment tools at their disposal.

According to data from the Department for Transport in 2021, car traffic hit 101% of the average level seen in the first week of February 2020. This increase coincided with the start of some school holidays, good weather, and the bank holiday weekend. With Britain moving again, and upticks of traffic on our streets, drivers will look for the easiest ways to park.

Multivendor implementation can ensure effortless parking. It can also help local authorities to use aggregated reporting across providers and machines, so councils can get an overview of parking and transport trends. In addition, as more vendors compete in the same space, there is an increased focus on innovation, benefiting both councils and drivers.

Finally, an open market approach benefits both local authorities and suppliers because they can manage and share the pricing to suit everyone. Although it’s fresh in the UK, Europe has been leveraging multivendor solutions for years, with some noticeable successes in cities like Copenhagen.

What makes open markets beneficial for society?

Behind the scenes, coordinating multiple providers in an open market setting can be tricky. However, the pay-off for proper implementation is a great incentive. Councils can opt for a central hub approach to simplify the process and help integrate enforcement, tariffs, and reconciliation of funds in the wider infrastructure.

So, is all of this worth the effort? The answer is yes. The end-user or the driver will reap the benefits of added convenience, enjoy the journeys, and indulge in seamless experiences. Good parking can also encourage drivers to travel and visit shopping centres or high streets. This will further have a positive effect on our society and local businesses, which have been through intermittent lockdown measures for quite a while now.

Post Views: 1030