Retail investments in technology reached an all-time high in 2016, a sign of the industry’s sustained commitment to providing smarter, data-driven retail experiences. But how can retailers ensure a return on these investments in 2017? It all comes back to location data.

Retailers are gaining more and more data about their customers, but making informed business decisions with that data has proven difficult and expensive. Retailers are moving toward more cost-effective solutions that work with a company’s pre-existing setup. Location intelligence platforms work remarkably well with pre-existing systems because location data requires flexibility.

This contributes to Dresner Advisory Services recent ranking of location intelligence mapping software among its most important business intelligence-related technologies for 2017. In fact, more than 50% of respondents stated it was “critical” or “very important” to their organization.

Here are three ways you can integrate smarter, data-driven location intelligence solutions throughout your retail business to ensure 2017 is your best revenue-generating year to date:

1. Analyze Consumer Behaviors with Indoor Maps

While customers are becoming more and more informed through online research, an overwhelming number of customers still purchase products at in-store locations.

Retailers are bridging this “brick-and-mortar” and “brick-and-click” divide by creating indoor maps featuring customized basemaps tailored to an individual store’s floorplan. In addition, retailers can apply spatial interaction models to these data visualizations to create heat maps that can help redesign floorplan layout as well as reassign staff to high traffic areas to optimize workforce performance.

Warby Parker, for example, designed their stores to have a mirrored layout because they found that customer flow throughout their stores was improved when customers didn’t have to jostle with each other over the same pair of glasses.

2. Provide In-Store Product Recommendations with Location Data

Amazon changed our retail experiences when it introduced algorithms to make product recommendations to shoppers based on past purchases. Customers now expect this same level of personalized attention in-store too.

Predictions for retail trends in 2017 point toward greater integration of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, but retailers working with location intelligence are already ahead of the curve. Retailers can pinpoint a shopper’s in-store coordinates in real-time with location data to recommend similar products available at that specific store branch.

Target has steadily expanded the availability of its retail application for smartphone users who opt-in to receiving updates from the retailer. Despite a slower than expected start, retailers should be optimistic in the viability of location applications since 73% of customers indicated that these types of updates increased the likelihood that they would make a purchase while at a store.

3. Create Custom Location Applications for Smarter Retailing

While location applications are helping retailers enhance customer experiences, they are also helping retailers improve operational efficiency.

Leroy Merlin, a French-based home improvement retailer with over 300 branches internationally, needed assistance in managing their product supply chain to ensure each store location offered a robust selection of products for customers.

They created a custom location application with a data repository accessible to remote managers and executives. These datasets were enriched using a data curation capability that visualized not only customer demographics for each store, but also nearby competitors. “One of the main advantages that we now have,” explained Jeremy Chatelain, Project Manager for Leroy Merlin, “is the ability to analyze competitors and where our clients are coming from.”

Retailers looking to mirror Leroy Merlin’s success can start developing their own retail location applications with CARTO!

Learn more about how location intelligence allows Leroy Merlin to track and analyze its business activities over time and space

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Next Steps

Technology budgets are likely to increase again in 2017 as more and more location data becomes available. But retailers who are seeing returns on past investments are those using location intelligence tools, including indoor mapping, spatial analysis, location-based marketing, and even custom made location applications. Location intelligence offers smarter, data-driven solutions, which retailers looking to retain a competitive edge will need in the upcoming year.

Happy Data Mapping