Brick-and-Mortar Retail Meets Big Data – and There’s No Turning Back

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In this special guest feature, Hannibal Baldwin, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of location intelligence service SiteZeus discusses how site-selection for retail has become an integral variable in the success of brick-and-mortar businesses. Hannibal is a fifth-generation Tampa native, and alumni of University of South Florida, where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Finance.

Cutting-edge technology and brick-and-mortar retailers have never got along perfectly. The relationship is complicated, but it can be incredibly harmonious despite the knee-jerk opposition of many retailers to things like online shopping, mobile apps, Bluetooth beacons and now Big Data. Business owners who reject these ideas are often left behind as the natural selection of capitalism demands better, smarter, and cheaper strategies. But what about those who embrace these revolutionary technologies? This is where we see an elegant integration of ancient and modern, providing customers with the best of both worlds: the familiarity and convenience of brick-and-mortar retail, enhanced by the actionable and dynamic insights provided by machine learning.

Location intelligence has earned its keep as an invaluable tool to anyone with retail space. In fact, it’s a total game-changer, not just because it helps businesses find their perfect location and understand their client base, but because it’s becoming increasingly effortless to integrate into both new and long-standing companies totally.

Retailers don’t need to waste time wondering if location intelligence is right for them- because the answer is, universally yes. Machine learning is no longer just for the computer scientists.

Here’s how it’s elevating the retail industry:

  1. Where: The first and most obvious major advantage of location intelligence in retail is that it significantly reduces the inevitable risk associated with opening new locations, in both familiar and totally new markets. Site selection has, until now, been a gamble, with business owners relying on word of mouth and gut instincts in deciding where to set up shop. But as many retailers know (or have learned the hard way), choosing the perfect location is a science as well as an art. Location intelligence platforms are analyzing massive data sets to help any business determine its sweet spot between too much competition and not enough foot traffic. And they’re doing a good job. At this point, retailers who reject location intelligence will struggle to find optimal locations as their competitors jump on and flourish from the insights of big data.
  1. Who: Location intelligence can answer a lot more questions for a business than just where to open its storefront. In fact, as more massive and comprehensive data sets are being integrated into location intelligence platforms, retailers can learn the nitty-gritty details on who makes up their target area and what they buy. This provides obvious benefits for targeted advertising, a tried and true method in today’s technological economy. Targeted ads save money and hit the nail on the head when it comes to reaching your ideal clients. A thorough understanding of your client-base will also reap massive rewards when it comes to making inventory decisions, as retailers can tailor their stock based on who they serve and what their spending habits are.
  1. What: Beyond the basics, location intelligence is built to understand complex relationships between the variables at play in your retail area. Machine learning can help your business in massive ways even after you’ve picked a location and stocked your shop. Next-level number crunching of data unique to your business combines with overarching insights derived from global and regional data sets. All of this comes together to understand the factors the drive and impede revenue. Once these key drivers are identified, retailers can use location intelligence to look even deeper and see how they interact to make real and estimable impacts on revenue.

We’re past the honeymoon phase of big data. We know that it’s accurate, comprehensive, dependable and not going anywhere. It’s no longer a matter of whether or not retailers can afford these fancy technologies— it’s whether they can afford not to embrace the most effective methods of success.


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