Location-based data fed from mobile devices is paving the way for a revolution in catchment analysis and retail network planning. But what does it mean for retailers and how can it be used strategically?
Australian software company GapMaps is leading the charge in this exciting new space, having successfully integrated device data as a new layer in its network mapping platform. The data can be used for any location that attracts significant numbers of visitors, be it an individual retail store or shopping centre, quick service restaurant, gymnasium, sports arena, museum, entertainment venue or tourism precinct.
It empowers retailers and shopping centres to better know the catchments or trade areas they serve. Or – intriguingly – those their competitors serve. The data provides a new and robust methodology to analyse customer origins and access patterns, create fact-based catchment areas, and make strategic network decisions with the comfort of knowing that those decisions are based on an up-to-the-minute understanding of customer usage patterns.
“Adding mobile device data capability into our software means that our clients are offered a dynamic view of how people are moving before and after a visit to a retail location. Basically, we can map where customers are coming from and how they have got there, as well as where they have gone afterwards,” said GapMaps founder and managing director, Anthony Villanti.
“This is a game-changer in terms of how retailers can substantiate network planning decisions and model their catchment areas. Mobile devices observed in specific locations, such as a retail store, can be linked with their common evening and daytime locations, such as ‘home’ or ‘work’, for example. When the data is visualised in the GapMaps platform, it’s a really effective tool.”
Harnessing GPS information based on mobile phone activity at and around any selected location, the data offers locational insights that until now were most often sought through face-to-face interviewing, or via a customer loyalty club. In more recent years, electronic transactions data has been another alternative, when it’s available. But mobile device data has significant advantages over these alternatives, as it’s the only option offering the powerful combination of being real-time, large scale, continual, flexible, easily replicable across locations or time periods, and more cost-effective.
This is the case for several reasons:
- The observations are time stamped and therefore any period of analysis can be chosen.
- Any site or location can be analysed, including any competitor site – no permissions are required.
- The analysis can be easily repeated for multiple time periods and multiple locations. There are no limits.
The data is easily deployed via the user-friendly GapMaps platform, enabling incisive and insightful analysis (both tabular and pictorial) to be conducted and presented by anyone.
The technology enhances a range of network planning functions, including identifying gaps for new site opportunities, forecasting cannibalisation and trade area overlaps, or creating targeted local store marketing and advertising opportunities. It’s a powerful development in both customer and network analysis capability for the retail industry.
GapMaps’ integration of device data complements the existing platform, which transforms demographic, government and industry data into a series of easy-to-use layers that subscribers access to build, monitor and manage their store networks.
With demographic, government and industry statistics from Australia, New Zealand and Asia, and now the addition of device data, GapMaps can be used to inform and guide network strategy in a number of countries. It’s already being used by more than 180 companies across a wide array of industries; from childcare and fast food to fitness, cafés, aged care, financial services and more.