I live in the D.C. Metro area, one of the most bustling geographies in the country. On any given drive through the city I’ll pass by long-time businesses that I’ve frequented for years closing their doors, as well as new businesses hosting a grand opening. Nearby I’ll see road construction underway or even new commercial or residential buildings popping up within walking distance. In a community where things often change, I’m constantly reminded how critical site selection is for businesses, particularly in growing communities like mine. I’d argue that it’s one of the single most important factors determining if a business remains open or closed.
For retail locations—apparel, telecommunications, banks, groceries, etc.—it’s all about location location location. Before opening a storefront, many retailers rely on site selection analytics to help them determine the best location for a store. Typically, site selection analytics helps these retailers identify areas in close proximity to a business’s ideal customer base, but it also takes into account other factors that could affect a business’s performance, such as average local income, average age, new construction, local competition and more.
Site selection analytics is critical to understanding whether a location is the right one, but few realize that the data gathered through site selection has the power to do more than just advise the planning process. It’s what site selection analytics tells you about customers that I think is the untapped opportunity retailers should really get excited about.
By understanding a potential store location and its surrounding area, this information, if utilized, provides you with a better sense of how to market to customers surrounding your store. Would your target demographic likely stop for a coffee on their way to see you, or visit the local gym at the end of their day? What route would they most likely take to get to your store? Are there billboards along the way? Equipped with insight like this, retailers have a huge opportunity to identify potentially lucrative customer segments and refine its marketing tactics and delivery methods accordingly.
Imagine you own a local office supply store. Your target demographic is largely comprised of working professionals, college students and parents of school age children. Luckily, you’ve found a space centrally located between one of the larger office complexes in town and the local community college. Despite what you’ve identified as the ideal proximity to your target demographic, business is slow and few customers drop in on a daily basis.
The data and insights used for selecting the proper location can have powerful marketing benefits. When you take a second look at your site data – demographic data and overlaying that with movement patterns – you can uncover insights about your customers’ daily habits beyond just that they go to school or they go to work. You learn that many frequent local coffee shops either to pick up a caffeine booster in the morning, or to study in the afternoon. Often they head to the gym in the evening to burn off a little steam. And after the gym, they may take a nearby service road to get to their neighborhood, avoiding any rush hour traffic.
Once you begin to better understand the customer outside your store location, their movements and preferences, you can better understand the most appropriate opportunities to market to them. You begin to send them mobile alerts when they enter the coffee shop a few blocks away, offering 10% off supplies in the next hour. You place fliers on the gym’s message board offering free printing for students with a college ID for a limited time. You sponsor an advertisement on the service road’s billboard that every traveler can see on their way home. You place location-based ads on the popular social media sites in your area offering incentives on back-to-school supplies.
Business begins to pick up, and soon, you become a local favorite among professionals, parents and students alike.
Site selection analytics is so much more than picking a proper location. It’s an opportunity to leverage data and analytics to uncover insight about an entire ecosystem and the people that live in it. As I drive through my community, and I see new businesses opening their doors, I’m hopeful they will take advantage of the wealth of information at their fingertips, and become a local staple for everyone in our ecosystem.
To find out more about how location analytics can help with retail site selection, visit us online: pitneybowes.com/us/location-intelligence.html