Location Intelligence | Pitney Bowes

Applying mobile trace data in sales forecast modeling – revolution or evolution?

In terms of delivering clear insights that are impactful to an important business decision, mobile trace data may actually be more anecdotal than critical.

By Gary Faitler & Bill McKeogh

For retailers, especially those with brick and mortar store networks, location intelligence is a valuable means for informing business-critical decisions.  Whether the purpose is forecasting new site revenue or estimating cannibalization rates, the range of data sources being leveraged to perform the analyses is expanding in the age of big data.  Nonetheless, businesses must be vigilant regarding the validity of the geo-spatial data they rely upon to set their strategic course.

One case in point is the growing availability (and popularity) of mobile data.  The top mobile data providers are leveraging cellphone GPS and Location Enabled Apps to pinpoint the device within 3 meters of its location.  By identifying a device’s common daytime and evening locations, mobile data providers can gain valuable insight with regards to the device owner’s likely home or place of employment in addition to various other locations the device may ‘visit’.

For retailers, the promise of this data is extraordinary.  Mobile data can shed strong insights to customer distribution patterns, targeted marketing efforts, cotenant synergies and competitive market-share.  It is, however, extremely important to qualify that the industry of providing mobile data for analytic use is still in its infancy, and claims with respect to its current ability to replace traditional data sources should be approached with some skepticism.

On its own, current mobile trace data lacks accuracy, limiting insight

At Pitney Bowes, we have evaluated and partnered with a broad representation of the most prominent mobile data providers.  Our goal in these efforts is to ensure that our analytics incorporate the highest quality and most accurate data available.  As such, Pitney Bowes is well-versed on what is available and we are enthusiastic with regards to mobile data and its ability to enhance our sophisticated analytical processes.

Despite our enthusiasm, we remain realistic about the present utility of the information beyond high-level insights and express this caution to our clients - primarily when using mobile data as a source for customer data.  To illustrate the basis for this caution we’ve applied our analytic display platform, GeoInsight, in a comparative exercise to display a known (POS-based) customer origin map against several of the leading mobile data providers’ representation of the same.  The results reveal an insufficient dataset which generally fails to provide reliable and consistent information.

Pitney Bowes’ commitment to develop powerful metrics for analyzing customer origin patterns from mobile data is evidenced by our partnerships with key mobile data providers.  It is also reflected by our recent acquisition of Maponics, further enhancing our geo-fencing and origin-destination data capabilities.  Nevertheless, our first commitment is to ensure for our clients that data sources we employ provide the accuracy and consistency that their models demand.  Mobile data will only improve with time and Pitney Bowes is optimally positioned to capitalize on its potential to drive efficient and accurate results.  

Pitney Bowes’ goal is to offer clarity amongst the cacophony of differing claims and opinions regarding the present value of mobile data. We aim to provide honest insight into how this technology can best be used today and its promise for the future. Our relentless commitment to leveraging and applying emerging technologies in the most measured and appropriate way possible reflects our mission to serve as trusted Craftsmen of Commerce.

Learn more about how our GeoInsight platform delivers all of the tools necessary for analyzing, visualizing and managing all of the critical location data that can help your business succeed.