It is no secret that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the retail industry, especially sectors that deal with non-essential items. With lockdown affecting shops, malls, e-commerce etc. huge losses have been accrued by businesses. As the lockdowns continue to ease across the globe, retailers have become hopeful of recovering the losses and coming back into form. Having said that, however, one cannot ignore the challenges that lie before them, and geospatial technology can come to the rescue for the retail industry at this point.
Looking into various factors such as consumer buying patterns, appropriate store locations, etc. businesses now need to look into redefining their supply chain strategies constantly, business operations as well as strategies for consumer retention. Spatial data hence, can help retailers in discovering new business opportunities while also increasing their productivity.
To this end, let us take a look at a few ways how GIS can help retailers recover business and emerge stronger post-COVID-19:
- Customer Profiling: With the help of spatial data, retailers can identify valuable customers, by gaining insight into their demographic features and focus on customers that are located in areas with similar demographic characteristics. Having access to these kinds of insights helps retailers in understanding the consumption interests of the customers, and thus be able to create more targeted and personalized marketing strategies.
Location-based data does not only provide details such as name, gender, Pin Code, etc. but also gives you mobile location information and IP address, which can be then utilised by GIS mapping to create informed insights. With the help of spatial data, retailers can also gain information regarding the changing interests of the customers, or if they are purchasing from competitors. Having access to all this data can help in the creation of a multidimensional model of trends that can help in predicting sales, designing sales territories, etc. Information like this can come especially handy when creating mail marketing campaigns, wherein your customers’ likes and dislikes are integral for its success.
- Shortlisting Locations for Stores: Given the impact of COVID-19 on brick and mortar stores, the location of a business now has a far-reaching impact even more so. Irrespective of how compelling a great your products might be, the wrong location can end up negatively but in your business and end up causing huge losses. To avoid this kind of scenario, spatial data can come handy in helping retailers narrow down the sites that would be appropriate for their store.
Evaluating factors such as consumer demand, traffic patterns, local demographics, etc. retail market mapping tools can help retailers in analysing site data, that will help them in judging and predicting their consumer demand and the kind of experience that the particular location can provide. Coupled with customer service, census data etc. retails can access visualisation of market presentation, market share along with trade areas. This becomes even more useful, when there are any sort of market changes, as one can even plan their exit strategies as well as asset disposal.
- Delivery Route Management: Owing to the crisis of COVID-19, delivery of products has become a major concern for companies, to this end, geolocation can aid businesses in being able to optimise their fleet management. Identifying containment zones and avoiding them, better management of schedule requests, arrival and departure times, customer site, etc. are all things that technology can help with. It is a well-known fact that retail data can be quite complicated, hence getting to map them suitably, can offer fresh insight for businesses that would help them in streamlining their shipping and delivery methodology.
- Identification of Competition: With the market becoming cutthroat, day by day, businesses end up losing out their customers to competition quite often. Being able to identify the kind of products, promotions, services that are profitable and attractive for customers, can help in fostering customer loyalty.
Access to a visualization of competitors with the help of spatial data can help retailers in understanding their competitors’ products even further and even have a look at the marketing strategies, consumer footfall, etc. all of which will further help in gaining a competitive edge. Armed with insights that can help in product development, promotions and consumer loyalty, businesses can utilise it to formulate strategies that will help in gaining prospective customers and also retaining the old ones.
The sheer global impact of COVID-19 crisis has understandably plummeted the retail sector in a sense of gloom. However, with spatial data, a path of positive outcomes can be paved for the sector by utilising technological solutions. Leveraging spatial technology, retailers can rethink their business’s operation model in order to sustain their profits, in the post-COVID-19 world. With the help of actionable insights received from consumer data, it is imperative that businesses now take charge and build a new profitable organisational structure.