There’s no denying that for many retailers, store location is key. That said, our changing culture means that the store’s physical location is only one factor and may not even be the most important geographic concern. This is why location analytics is now more important than ever.
First it was online shopping that challenged the old idea that all customers go to stores, and that passing trade is the dominant goal (following on from the days of mail order catalogues.) But today the landscape is even more complicated, with many retailers offering click and collect services. This means customers browse through products online from home, at work or on the move, then collect them at their convenience from whichever store turns out to be on their route.
Some examples: John Lewis has just 40 outlets, but lets customers order online and collect from 300 Waitrose stores. Meanwhile 5,000 corner shops and convenience stores act as collection points for orders from online retailers. Indeed, the retail world has even been turned on its head with a partnership that means customers can buy from eBay and then pick up the product at a local Argos a couple of days later rather than wait at home for a delivery.
Click and collect has big implications for the logic of trying to situate a retail store to best reach people shopping in person. Now retailers need to take into account numerous other location factors. For example, could billboard ads for a company with well-developed online shopping aimed at impulse buyers be best placed where the target demographic works rather than where they live or shop? Should a company looking for a local collection partnership take into account work-routes of customers, opening hours of stores, and whether customers are disproportionately likely to work unusual shift patterns?
With all these questions, location analytics can be the solution. It involves visualising data on maps, with variables and multiple data sources easily combined by the best platforms. Location analytics can help companies find the most suitable outlets or delivery centres, whichever retail format they decide upon.