ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Industry Dive acquired Mobile Commerce Daily in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out our topic page for the latest mobile commerce news.

Merchants leverage beacons to pay for parking and drive store traffic

In a new angle on how merchants are leveraging beacons, businesses in several Canadian cities have partnered with mobile parking payment application HotSpot to foot the bill for parking as a way to drive longer in-store visits and acquire new customers.

Local merchants such as Cora’s, Vogue Optical and Crown Plaza Hotel are taking advantage of the program based on the idea that people who are looking for parking are interested in offers from nearby businesses. Initial results show that 30 percent of drivers decide to go into stores that offer HotSpot parking perks.

“A customer who has just parked his car and used HotSpot app to pay for it, is walking down the street,” said Trevor Longino, head of marketing and PR at “Based on proximity data and beacons, he gets a notification about the nearby restaurant and decides to enter it.

“There is no need to run out from the venue to top up parking, because with HotSpot, this client can either pay for it himself, using an app, or the restaurant can offer him to pay it if he decides to stay longer for a dessert or coffee, by approving the offer through app,” he said.

“What’s more, the waitress can make his experience even more convenient and enjoyable by calling his name or identifying dessert he saved as favorites in his phone.”

Free parking
HotSpot is a mobile app that enables users to pay for parking and top off their time anytime, anywhere. It has covered 30 percent of the car parks in four Canadian cities: St. John, Fredericton, Moncton and Charlottetown.

Nearly 500 beacons have been deployed in garages and retail locations to support the program. This enables HotSpot to determine where users have parked as well as to let stores see when and where a customer enters after parking.

Merchants are able to leverage the beacons, which are provided by, and the app to deliver messages and offers. Users can also be notified about nearby venues they can visit.

Some of the offers that businesses can offer to HotSpot users include free parking while they are shopping in a store, extra validation and protection from getting tickets. Ticket Defender is a feature that activates when HotSpot users enter HotSpot powered businesses and offers ticket insurance and the ability to override meter limits by up to one hour.

By understanding how parking influences shoppers’ behavior and their purchases, HotSpot hopes to help retailers enhance customer satisfaction while finding new customers in those who have parked nearby.

Longer visits
Early results show that visits driven by HotSpot last 13 percent longer than others as these customers do not have to worry about running out of parking time. Additionally, 30 percent of HotSpot users who park nearby walk into a store and spend, on average, 61 minutes in the store.

HotSpot also has a built-in analytics channel that tells business owners how long their HotSpot customers have been in the store, how much parking they covered and where in the store they were.

Thirty percent of HotSpot users use the app at least three times per week and 38 percent log in every month. Additionally, 80 percent of those who have downloaded the app have Bluetooth turned on so they are ready to receive beacon-enabled notifications.

HotSpot is also focused on addressing impaired driving, with every vendor serving alcohol to its customers able to ask them to take a cab and return to their cars the next morning. In March 2015, HotSpot provided free overnight parking to 152 people who had parked their car and then entered a participating bar.

HotSpot is also working with several large investment banks and law firms as well as public libraries.

“Providing this kind of context-rich messaging is possible with built-in HotSpot analytics channel, which tells business owners how long their HotSpot parking customers have been in the store, how much parking they covered, where in the store they were, and more information depending on the beacon configurations,” Mr. Longino said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is senior editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York