Geospatial data – retailers’ little-known competitive advantage

Gmaven’s BI Developer, Edmund Charumbira.

There’s an old axiom that suggests you should always be aware of your surroundings. It’s good advice that can be applied to every aspect of your life – including your business.

Let’s say you have the opportunity to open up a coffee shop in a brand new shopping mall. The shopping mall is positioned in a busy retail hub, with easy access in and out of the centre, and lots of potential patrons from a nearby affluent suburb. On paper, it sounds like a fantastic business opportunity that you’d be crazy to turn down.

However, what you aren’t seeing is that there are five other franchised coffee shops based on the premises (better positioned near the food court), and another 12 coffee shops within a five kilometre travel distance that are closer to the suburb’s inhabitants. Suddenly, you begin to realise that the opportunity for a coffee shop isn’t as great as initially projected and you might just be adding to an already over-saturated market in this specific location.

So, how would you go about gaining such an in-depth evaluation of your surroundings? Through geospatial analysis, or in simple terms, evaluating information that can be plotted on a map. This methodology allows us to investigate and analyse data sets and points to make crucial and better informed decisions. By plotting key points – and providing invaluable insights about these points – geolocated data is able to paint a clearer picture of your overall surroundings. The visualisable nature of geospatial data is easy to comprehend. It assists and improves decision-making by providing geospatial business intelligence for sites, space, infrastructure and physical assets. The insights are also practically endless, as information results can be sliced and diced just for you – and read via means of dashboards or reports.

From a retailer perspective, geospatial data can allow businesses to instantly analyse competitors and gaps of opportunity in the market. Looking at the coffee shop example: if you utilised geospatial analysis, you would immediately realise that opening a shop in this particular shopping mall would be a bad business decision, because of the franchise stores’ superior positioning and the over saturated market. As an alternative, you could survey the surrounding areas and shopping centres, strategically planning where to station your shop so that it’s based in a bustling, prime location, which isn’t flooded with similar stores, and will appeal to your projected customer demographic. Rather than becoming just another coffee shop, you could establish yourself as the main attraction of that specific location.

Delving further into the power of geospatial data, crucial demographic information – such as the age range and population per age group, language types and average income – is also available. This information talks to other information such as business nodes that are 10 minutes away from the specified location – which could impact factors such as deliveries.

Every business looks for the competitive edge – the little something that separates it from all of the others. Through geospatial analysis, it is now possible to not just have an edge, but also to plot the entire map to success.

Gmaven’s BI Developer, Edmund Charumbira.