Parking in the big cities has increased immensely over the recent years. This problem has affected almost all large cities where drivers steer around searching for empty parking spots thus causing more congestion.
It is a frustrating situation for drivers while for entrepreneurs, this may serve as an opportunity to effectively address the issue. As our everyday life has already gone mobile, a parking mobile app would help drivers discover parking lots, book them in advance and pay over the application, getting them off the roads quickly.
You will learn how to tackle urban parking problems with digital mobile solutions and we will also provide tips on how to develop a parking app that generates revenue.
How to develop a mobile parking app - step by step
1.Conduct Market Research
Before bringing your idea to life, do a short research on your competitors and collect information on your target audience, being their preferences and needs.
There are hundreds of parking mobile apps in the stores, so invest some time to check out their features as well as user feedback to see what are the features users like or dislike – this will help you identify the trends and gaps your can address and also it may give some concrete ideas on what to include in your own app.
Some questions to think about can be:
- Are there new legislations to consider?
- Where is the focal point users struggle to find parking?
- How can your application resolve these problems?
- Who is your competition?
- What do they offer? What do they lack?
- What more can you offer?
Answering these questions will help you develop a solution that will satisfy users’ needs to a greater extent than already available options.
2. Choose a Business Model
Different apps have a core set of features based on the existing models. Getting such insights will help you to develop your specific type of parking solution along with appropriate features.
Your parking app business model may include:
- Only navigation – helps users find free spots, however they cannot make reservations. This is a good start and you can add more features later
- Navigation and booking – helps users find and book free spots. In this model, you may include additional features like payment options, reminders, navigation to the parking spot and more.
- Full service model – this model has all the features like in the above mentioned models for a complete smart parking process. It includes more services like valet services, door-to-door service and more.
3. Consider Revenue Models
Once you choose your business model, think about how you will monetize your application. Your business goals will determine which monetization model would be the best for your mobile app.
Let’s take a look at a couple of revenue streams for parking mobile apps.
In this model, users subscribe to monthly or annual plans to use your app. In return, they receive certain membership benefits like advanced booking, seamless automated payments and similar.
Subscription models will help you deliver better customer experience and build long-term relationships with users leading towards increasing your revenue.
Commission is a common monetization model – in a nutshell, it is a collaboration of parking space owners with the app owners.
When a user books (and pays for) a parking spot via your mobile app, the money is sent to the parking owners while the app owners get a percentage from each booking that was processed via your app.
Reward system is a revenue model where you reward loyal customers with points which can later be translated to free parking, discounts or other benefits.
Such bonuses may encourage regular usage of your app thus increasing your revenue. It is also an excellent approach to improving customer experience.
Such an approach to revenue models is common with parking apps with a large audience. You can lease ad space on your app for either parking space owners or similar services. In return, they will pay you an agreed amount for the featured listing.
4. Choose Your Features
Once you start choosing the features you will realize there are many functionalities that may match your app, however beware of the ‘feature creep’.
We will list some basic features for more roles within the app like drivers, parking space owners and the admin side.
Core features for drivers
- Registration – enables users to access your parking mobile app. Allow drivers to sign in through their google account or social media profiles to speed up the process.
- Search – this is the primary feature of the app – finding parking spaces. Drivers can discover available parking spaces within targeted locations. Search filters may include parameters like searching by address, city, landmarks and more. A good option can be to add a filtering feature or option to compare prices and similar for your users.
- Reservation – not all parking apps have this feature thus it is worth adding it to your app as it will improve customer experience. You can allow your users to reserve parking to a certain extent of time.
- Geolocation – users can get driving directions towards the booked parking space from their current location, or find nearby spots or even locate their cars after parking.
- Time estimate – allows drivers to view the time necessary to reach their parking space. Additionally, they can track how much time they have left in a reserved parking spot.
- Payment and payment history – integrating a secure payment gateway that allows a wide range of options will greatly improve user experience. Include credit cards, PayPal, Cryptocurrency and more options for your users. Additionally, allow users to track their payments and book previously used parking lots.
- Ratings and reviews – provide an opportunity for users to send their feedback on their experience. It can be through reviews or ratings.
Core features for parking owners
- Registration – this feature provides access to your application where you can add social registration or login for your users. Further, you can add security measures like proof of identification prior to a signup.
- Management of parking requirements – a feature enabling parking owners to add or remove openings, pricing, spot details and similar information.
- Payment – this feature enables registered owners to receive payment once their parking spot is booked or used.
- Parking request – owners can review bookings made via the app and accept or decline parking requests through this feature.
- Review and ratings – owners should also be given the opportunity to review users’ feedback and adjust their operations for better service.
Core features for admin panel
- User manager – this feature assists admins to manage user-related details (manage user profiles, transaction history, payments and more)
- Parking owner manager – this enables admins to manage parking space details like number of parking spots, pricing for each one etc. Keep in mind that your app can have more than one registered parking lot with varying prices.
- Booking management – the feature enables admins to manage bookings, prices per each booking, transactions and more.
- Payment management – this feature allows tracking a number of cars parked within a certain time, total payments, refunds, parking owners’ revenues and more.
- Offer management – enables admins to manage promotions and marketing campaigns. Admins can send out discount offers to specific users or all users.
We have listed the basic features for a parking mobile app, yet there are also advanced features which can help you provide exceptional service leading to greater acquisition and retention of users.
Advanced features for parking applications
- Push notifications – these notifications alert users on various offers or promotions, price changes and similar.
- Waiting list – in case some users prefer specific spots that are already reserved, they can sign up for a waiting list to be notified once the spot becomes vacant.
- Multilingual options – excellent add-on for non-native speakers or if your app serves more markets. You can support specific languages spoken by your target audience.
- Multi-city booking – if you wish to offer additional features to your users, this is an excellent choice – allow them to book parking spots in various cities.
- Heat map – heat maps are genuine gems for users since they can track information on busy routes and choose other roads in order to save time to reach their parking spot.
There are other advanced features, so invest your time and do your research as the specific service your app offers can make or break your app’s success.
5. Pay attention to UI/UX design
Once you have decided on the features to implement, it is time to consider the design.
Keep in mind that if you make a complex design, it may lead to increased churn rates if they need time to figure out how your app works.
Simplify the registration and signup process as it is vital – if users stumble on the first step in the process, the chances are that they will abandon your app. Other key steps include search and payment.
Maintain an intuitive and user-friendly design for all steps or processes in your application.
6. Hire competent development company
In order to develop a successful mobile app, you have to hire a highly skilled team that will deliver your requirements and improve your end result.
You can either develop it in-house or hire an outsourcing company. Whichever you choose, do your research on the potential development company, clearly communicate your ideas and ensure they understand the purpose of your app.
7. Scale your app
Once your mobile app product is finalized, you can go live.
Pay attention to user feedback as you can learn a lot and improve user experience accordingly. Later on, you can add more features as your app grows and expands into new markets.
Word for the Future
The global smart parking systems market size is expected to reach $11.13 billion by 2027. The market is open for new players but keep in mind that others are already entering the market with their apps so make sure you do the market research for a better outcome.
If you wish to develop a parking mobile application, ensure to find a valuable development partner that will be able to help you deliver a successful product in both, software and hardware side of urban parking.
If you have an idea for a parking mobile application, we can help you with both the concept and the development since we have experience in building such apps, check ApParking Spot!