Common sense says that the longer shoppers stay inside stores, the more they buy.
Retailers have spent millions strategizing about which location-based marketing and cross-channel personalization tactics are most successful in increasing dwell times, but a startup based out of Miami thinks the answer retailers are looking for is actually right outside their front doors.
MyPark is a self-parking app that people can use to find open parking spaces or reserve spots in advance. In the two years the service has been up and running, the company has managed to ink partnerships with dozens of public and private locations, including Simon Properties, the largest mall operator in the U.S. In the past year, the company has also added its technology to a number of malls around the country, including the Mall of America, Westfield Garden State Plaza, and three large Orlando outlets.
“According to industry statistics, shoppers will spend an average of 72 minutes at a mall. With MyPark, the time someone spends at the property increases to 120+ minutes,” says MyPark CEO Luis Mayendia.
When consumers download the MyPark app, they can reserve spots close to the mall’s entrance up to six months in advance. Then, when they arrive at the mall, they go to the designated spot, tap “Let Me In” on the app, and a MyPark device lowers to allow them to pull into the space.
The MyPark app also includes a validation feature, where retailers and restaurants can offer premium parking as a way to drive more customers to specific locations.
Mayendia said shoppers are inclined to stay at malls longer when they use MyPark because they’re able to drive right into their spaces and not waste time looking for parking spots. This translates into shoppers having more time inside the mall, and eliminates one of the biggest frustrations that comes along with shopping at busy stores. MyPark’s premium spots are also located close to mall entrances, which means walk time is reduced and people have more time to spend shopping.
“Guests benefit from the best parking experience, and mall operators have a way to make sure that the premium spots are used by guests and not by employees who are there all day,” Mayendia says. “In addition, it’s an added source of revenue for the malls.”
Despite its early successes, Mayendia says MyPark is facing the same obstacles as many other startups—primarily, a quantity of staff and resources struggling to keep pace with the startup’s growth potential. The company recently secured a $2.1 million seed financing round, and Mayendia and his team are building a corporate structure to be able to handle the rapid growth, as they work to get MyPark out into the market as quickly as possible.
Part of that growth involves franchising MyPark’s services globally.
“Franchising allows us to expand internationally in places where it would have taken longer for us to enter the market. We have partners in places like Puerto Rico and the United Arab Emirates that are implementing our technology in their market in very successful ways,” Mayendia says. “Since MyPark is a network of units that are connected to a reservation platform, franchisees are able to offer that service and solution abroad. While we are focusing on North America and other local markets, we can now also expand to places like the Middle East, Asia, and Europe.”
More immediately, Mayendia says the company is expanding its in-app validation service, which allows retailers and restaurants at a property to validate a guest’s visit, and rolling out a rewards program for loyal customers at some point in the future.
“We see MyPark as a platform for connecting drivers with the places that they are going to,” Mayendia says. “Not only at malls, but at airports, stadiums, garages, hospitals, and other private and public locations.”
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.