With the government of India relaxing the regulations related to the mandated lockdown, the retail industry is becoming enthusiastic about reviving their business in the post-pandemic world. The COVID-19 outbreak has indeed created a massive disruption in the retail sector where there has been a significant decline in the revenue due to shut down of stores, supply chain disruptions, and a considerable change in customer buying patterns. In fact, according to reports, non-essential retailers have faced an 80% to 100% reduction in their sales amid this crisis. Therefore, organisations are looking at relying on new data streams to keep their business afloat in the post-COVID world.
One of the critical data streams that can help the retail industry to keep its pace up post the pandemic is the geospatial data, which will highlight the location maps of different geographies with the necessary information for retailers. In fact, over the past few months, geospatial data or location data proved to play a significant role in making us understand the virus, monitor citizens, identify shortage of supplies, contact tracing as well as to create contingency zones. However, now, the retail industry is planning to leverage location-based consumer data to understand the demographics for their business in the post-COVID world.
In a recent session on Customer Analytics in Retail by Arghya Mukherjee, the assistant director of retail and CPG analytics at WNS, he has explained how demographics data can help organisations segment their customers, and that in turn would help in pitching the customers better. “Customer segmentation is key for companies to attract their customers. In fact, without segmentation, one cannot make their propensity model which is important to acquire as well as serve the customers.”
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Alongside, post the pandemic, with the evolution of customer buying patterns, organisations would continuously need to redefine their supply chain strategies, rethink their company operations as well as customer retention strategies. Therefore, retailers are now GIS data to find business opportunities and increase their productivity.
Companies need to identify potential high-value new prospects and convert them into customers using optimised targeting. Mukherjee further explained the process — “for a company whose target audience for their products is college students, they need to ensure the best location to open their stores in order to ensure a better outcome for their business. And for that, retail companies can leverage demographic data of areas where college students reside and accordingly can create their strategies for their business.”
For retail companies, the geospatial data would not only include the customer data but also other details about the stores, customer traffic as well as other demographics data like zip code, phone location, among others. Analysing those data with machine learning algorithms can help retailers understand the factors that are going to influence their business and can strategies their business operations customised to certain areas. Not only geospatial analytics will support companies in making more informed decisions but also help shop-owners to increase their networking with their customers.
Retailers can also use geospatial data for identifying the density zones, which can help in route and vehicle optimisation to avoid red zones while delivering supply. “As we all know that secondary data is not possible to collect, as all the stores are currently closed. Therefore, organisations can get the geolocation data to enhance their delivery process,” said Mukherjee. “Retailers can get their initial data feed from their orders and then use their geolocation analysis to locate the address for the person to deliver the goods smoothly. With regard to corrections, they do an approximation or a triangulation of the nearest location, and the location data keeps on improving as more and more customers order from a particular area.”
So, according to Mukherjee, with every customer order, the geolocation data keeps getting refined. He further believes that geolocation-based data is one of the biggest trends for the retail industry that is going to gain traction for the next two-three years. In fact, a report states that the global location analytics market size is expected to reach $22.8 billion by the year 2024, at a CAGR of 16.6%, where organisations are going to utilise location-tagged data route optimisation, asset tracking, customer location tracking etc.
Transerve Technologies, one of the geospatial experts of the country has released an online stack to map COVID-19 density zones to help SMBs, large retailers as well as supply chain professionals to restart their business in the post COVID world. According to the company, with Transerve’s online stack, retailers can decide on which stores to reopen and which ones to not, and can also plan their sourcing strategies by analysing the supplier’s catchment areas.
According to Mukherjee, retail organisations are also relying on applications like MyGate — a mobile-based intelligent security application designed for gated communities in order to enhance safety — to avail data to strengthen the supply and delivery process. “This application is used by the majority of the society to keep a check of delivery personals entering the society, and therefore external apps like these can create geospatial data with all the necessary information they have,” said Mukherjee.
Here are a few ways geospatial data can help retail companies to revive their business:
Predict future market trends
Location-based data or geospatial data has proved to be miraculous during the peak of the pandemic, where policymakers are relying on maps to understand the rise of the infection as well as to identify containment zones. However, for retailers, these location-based data sets can reveal a lot of real-time information, location intelligence, and geographic trends that can be beneficial for companies, such as — customer information, product information, footfall information as well as sales target information. And once these data have been analysed and mapped out, retailers can quickly identify and predict future market trends, consumption patterns, and demographic traits for targeted customers. Alongside with geospatial data, retail companies can understand if their products are gaining momentum in a particular area and can find ways that can enhance the sale of the same for that region. Also, this data could be beneficial for companies who are willing to create targeted advertisements for their customers in particular demographics.
Profile customers for better segmentation
Post the pandemic, one of the crucial aspects for companies is to understand their customers and their buying patterns. Therefore, profiling customers for a better segmentation would help retailers to strategies their business model for each of their customer segments. Although retail companies have always been using data to understand their customers, adding the aspect of location would only help the retailers to get a better geographical context of their customers, which, in turn, provide them insights about their consumption interests. Alongside, with geospatial data, retailers can design more targeted and personalised marketing strategies for certain region people. Not only location-based data provide details like name, gender, address, zip code but also offers mobile location information as well as the IP address of the customers. And by using GIS mapping on the collected data, business leaders can create informed insights based on the location-based data and also learn if your customers are changing their interests or buying from your competitors.
Select the right location for a better business outcome
One of the most significant issues retail companies have faced amid this crisis is not to have the ability to keep their stores open for businesses. Therefore, it can be well established that retail companies can be very dependent on their physical store location for the success of their business. Post-COVID, geospatial data can be beneficial for retailers who would like to restart their business. With the help of the data, the retailer companies can judge a location amid this pandemic and can decide whether to open their stores for that location or not. Along with that, the retail companies would also be able to judge and predict their customer demand and experience of that particular location store for better analysis. Also, to launch new products, retail companies are always looking for data that can highlight good locations for their business to boom.
Compete better in this uncertainty
Another way retail companies can succeed in their business amid this crisis is by knowing their competition and what they are currently doing. With geospatial data, retail, companies can keep a check on their competitors, which would, in turn, help them in making better business strategies. Visual representation of the competitors with geolocation data, will also help retail companies to know more about their competitors’ products, marketing strategies, as well as customer footfall, which can provide a competitive edge. In fact, in order to open a new store, location-based data will help retailers to position themselves strategically against their competitors. These data can also be strategically used to gain new prospective customers and can also retain the older ones. Not only, these unique insights would drive reliable decision making but will also help them understand their customers’ sense of loyalty.
Route and delivery optimisation
Lastly, a critical concern that can be easily solved by geolocation data is managing delivery routes for retail companies. With geospatial data, companies can better schedule delivery requests amid this crisis, along with identifying red zones to avoid them while delivering goods and checking departure times according to customers’ availability. This, in turn, would enhance the whole supply chain process of retail companies, which would help them in creating a sustainable model post-COVID world. Retail data can be complicated and therefore mapping them suitably with validations would provide a fresh outlook for business leaders and would help them streamline their shipping and delivery processes. These geolocation data are provided in real time to business leaders for them to use analytics for making necessary changes to resource allocation according to the situations.
With this never-ending pandemic outbreak, it is challenging for the retail industry to predict the business outcome and the evolving customer buying patterns. And therefore, this pandemic has urged retail companies to rethink their business operation model with geospatial data in order to sustain in the post-COVID world. It is now more than ever required for retailers to take charge of customer data to build a suitable organisation.