Mapping is important but doesn’t provide all the answers
Geospatial mapping or GIS mapping are terms used to explain how to integrate data into mapping for a range of uses for industries, projects & users. Government & Private enterprise use GIS mapping for a range of purposes but primarily users want to analyse different data sets (layers) across a platform to profile things like demographics, asset location, bricks & mortar stores, competitors and opportunity (or demand).
Looking specifically at Retail, mapping where the supply & demand is coming from is a good first step in any internal project. Supply is basically where your stores (assets) are geographically located on a map….pretty simple stuff. You then would most likely want to map out the geographic location of your main competitors to get a high level overview of the supply picture.
Other layers of information or tools can be included in the mapping platform, for example high traffic generating things like supermarkets, large format stores like David Jones or if your store sales are largely evening driven then things like cinemas, hotels, bowling alleys etc. can also be mapped to see where opportunities exist
Mapping is therefore a good place to start the conversation around the current landscape for your network of stores. What mapping doesn’t provide (despite what some companies tell you), is the analysis & strategic planning piece of the project.
A detailed analysis of why some stores perform better than others cannot be answered by viewing data on a map. Understanding store network performance is done by looking at the physical characteristics of each store, taking into account factors like business & residential demographics, merchant credit card data, precinct generators etc. Feeding a range of different data sets into the project will help to answer the question as to what is really driving sales performance for the brand. We call this identifying your key sales drivers and quantifying how each of the critical factors driving sales performance impacts the brand so that you know what to focus your energy on and not all the noise that is not important.
Mapping in conjunction with knowing the key sales drivers can then lead into a network planning piece of the project. Network planning is all about a) using predictive models to forecast sales b) understand possible cannibalisation impacts c) drive decisions for store growth that completes the puzzle.
In summary, mapping provides a high level overview of supply vs demand but doesn’t provide strategic planning. You therefore need to consider whether mapping is the most critical part of the project (in other words is it enough to answer your questions) or whether you want to better understand what is driving sales performance so that you can apply the findings to your existing network and ultimately to your growth strategy.