Pulse Labs is excited to have guest author and esteemed communications veteran Adam Calland share his insights and learnings on Parkopedia, the leading provider of innovative, in-car, connected vehicle services.
Globally there are roughly 80 million vehicles produced annually, with Parkopedia covering over 90 million individual parking spaces worldwide. They have a deep knowledge of the parking industry with automaker relationships dating back many years, so knowing that every journey in a new connected vehicle starts and ends with a parking experience has created an obsession within the company to make each experience a positive one.
It takes a blend of art and science to connect people to parking, in the same vein as Uber connects passengers to drivers. The art is the user interface, which brings new customers in and keeps them engaged by making their lives a little easier on every drive. The science is the logistical algorithms behind the scenes as well as constantly maintaining the mammoth database to the highest standards, from which the algorithms draw.
In 2007, Parkopedia’s CEO, Eugene Tsyrklevich founded the company with the goal of allowing drivers to conveniently find parking, anywhere. Now, the business has expanded and helps drivers find and pay for parking, EV charging, fueling and tolls in 20,000 cities across 90 countries. Parkopedia’s approach was to first establish a consumer base with an easy-to-use public website and app, before moving into the B2B space, delivering its products and services directly to automakers as a pre-installed integrated service for drivers. Today, 60% of newly produced connected vehicles in Europe and 25% in the US are pre-installed with Parkopedia’s services, utilizing their trusted parking data, with each growing annually with simultaneous coverage and partnership expansions.
What’s the Roadmap
Parkopedia's success gives us several learnings from which we could all benefit as we work to create the next breakthrough technology solution, for in-vehicle technology or otherwise. Here are 7 basic steps for success:
- Identify and Define the Need: in Parkopedia’s case, the inherent need to find a convenient parking space was obvious. The key question was the size of the need (huge) and whether any established players or technology were already on the case.
- Establish the Prerequisites: Parkopedia’s business model hinged on a great customer/driver experience first (for loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing), which itself hinges on successful engineering and a robust database to deliver positive user experiences for drivers. Parkopedia has taken its existing database to underpin its more recent services, such as identifying if an EV charger is present at each parking location, utilizing predictive analytics for determining the likelihood of a space, and or charger, being available at the driver’s end destination, based on their ETA, in addition to delivering a deeply integrated payment platform for frictionless vehicle-centric payments, combined with detailed maps of indoor and underground parking facilities to provide parking and navigation services where GPS is unavailable to enable Autonomous Valet Parking as well as accurate driver convenience and MaaS services in the future.
- Size and Conquer Technical Hurdles: For such a simple need, the solution is complex. Parkopedia had to first build its inventory of parking spaces from ground zero to now totaling more than 90 million worldwide, and like any good data warehouse, the crux is keeping it current or ‘fresh’ as it is referred to internally. Parkopedia is the only parking data provider that continually validates its data and dynamic predictions, using ground teams in each location to verify data, and was recently named as the best parking data provider in both the US and China from independent tests.
- Focus on the Customer UX: Once the technical hurdles have been overcome, the next mission is to present all that information to the consumer with a pleasing, usable and responsive service interface or as we refer to internally to Parkopedia’s strong focus on “delighting the driver, even for the most mundane of tasks.” The core of any good user experience is focusing on the user’s needs first: What are they trying to do? How will a good solution make their lives better or easier? What user journeys will they take? How quickly must it respond? How will they measure success or failure? Parkopedia quickly moved to integrated products and services into the vehicles head unit so automakers can utilise internal sensors on every vehicle, such as location, gear selection, speed or remaining range or fuel level, to provide a personal experience and notify drivers of nearby parking, charging, fueling or where in-car payment services are available for a seamless experience that engages drivers and ensures accurate payments for actual time, fuel or electricity used.
- Build the Base: Parkopedia used the best customer price of all (free) when it launched its app. Its simple but clear benefit helped grow monthly user volume to over 10 million drivers on their consumer website alone.
- The Business Need: Data provided by partnerships and multiple ground validation teams around the world, provide the raw data used by Parkopedia’s experienced data analysts and software engineers to create complete services across highly fragmented industries such as parking, which provide positive in-car experiences expected by drivers today.
- Incremental Revenue Streams and Scale: After developing its successful consumer website and app, Parkopedia created an additional B2B revenue stream by integrating its solutions into vehicle head units for Audi, BMW, Ford, GM, Hyundai Kia, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot, Toyota, Volkswagen and many others, and licensing its data to wider tech and navigation companies, such as Apple, Garmin, Sygic and TomTom.
What's Next for Parkopedia
Following 15 successful years of learning and growth, Parkopedia will continue to listen to driver demands and develop its parking database and services around the world to retain its position as the market leader. Additionally, Parkopedia will continue to grow its wider connected products and services launched in the last 12 months to enable automakers to keep up with their driver’s increasing demands for in-car technology and services that assist their journeys.
Within the last 4 years alone, Parkopedia has added 4.7 million on-street/curbside parking spaces to its dataset due to driver demand and, with frequent testing and process improvements, has achieved just under 99% total completeness. The company’s dynamic data coverage has also grown by more than 600% during this time. Thanks to this highly granular and robust dataset, Parkopedia’s unique location ‘geofencing’, allows for fully automated vehicle-centric payments in the future, while the business’ recently launched ‘Park and Charge’ product revolutionises the combined parking and charging experience, and solves the barrier to ownership for as many as one-third of potential EV owners who are unable to charge a vehicle at home, and would be entirely reliant on the currently lacking, public charging infrastructure - facilitating growing EV sales worldwide.
Parkopedia is also unveiling new service markets for automakers to create unique in-car user experiences with speech technology. A recent partnership with Amazon Alexa has seen the company become the default parking skill for millions of drivers in the US, enabling them to seamlessly find, reserve and pay for parking at more than 75,000 off-street parking locations.
Parkopedia also has ambitions to make navigation black-outs in parking lots a thing of the past with their Indoor Mapping service that will provide an end-to-end navigation experience to precise locations that could be an individual space, EV charger or service location all without the need of GPS signal. The same technology will path the way to an autonomous future by being a prerequisite of Automated Valet Parking (AVP) and likely the first iteration of autonomous driving we will experience as drivers.
Finally, the company’s award-winning Payment Platform was recently expanded to enable automakers to capitalise on the growth of the multi-billion in-car commerce industry with intuitive in-car payments across all crucial vehicle domains - Parking, Charging, fueling and tolls to provide a personalised and unique payment experience for drivers that far exceeds what is possible on mobile apps.
It is without doubt Parkopedia’s busiest and most complex time in its history as we have expanded from one core product to four in the last 12 months alone. However, the rapidly growing team taking on this challenge are embracing this change and continue to share a common interest between us all at Parkopedia in delighting drivers with our innovative in-car services and an internal pride and excitement for the role we will play in delivering the future of connected vehicles.
Parkopedia’s success comes on the heels of a great user experience, including delivering on promises. And informed OEMs are integrating Parkopedia’s services because they’ve been able to validate that.
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About Adam Calland: Adam is Marketing Director at Parkopedia and joined in late 2020. His background includes a mix of OEM, such as Jaguar Land Rover, as well as experience with brand, public relations and communications.