Two facts … one: competition is tough. Two: Information is power. That is why managers try to perform a business analysis and utilize every piece of information to improve the performance. Recently, Location Analytics is becoming a basic ingredient of the successful business analysis and decision making process.
Actually, location is the common factor that can connect the pieces of business puzzle together. Suppliers, customers, Business branches, competitors, transactions and business missions, all of these have their locations.
Therefore, the following paragraphs will give an overview about the location analytics, and how managers can utilize its power for a more successful business.
What is Location Analytics ?
In the beginning, it is good to know that Location Analytics is. In simple words, Location analytics is the process of gaining insights from the location or geographic component of business data. When using a Geographical Information System (GIS), this allows for new dimensions of analysis and insights, in this case through a more visual approach.
Some of the basic questions of managers are related to the effectiveness of business locations. They ask questions like: where do I exist and where don’t? do my branches cover a good percentage of my customers? do customers need to travel long distances to reach my locations?
GIS provides tools to analyze the coverage of business locations. In simple steps, the analysts can create a map with the locations of branches, customer distribution, competitor locations. Then, they can calculate service area of each branch. moreover, they can run location analysis tools to detect the unserved areas, and the even the priority area to cover based on some input criteria.
The map below shows a business location and the calculation of its service area. all customers located inside this area can reach the business location within 20 minutes. (image from esri.com)
The marketing professional talk about the Four Ps: Product (or Service), Place, Price and Promotion. In other words, they say need to put the right product in the right place, at the right price, and at the right time. However, marketing activities cost money. Therefore, managers use location analytics in order to increase the efficiency of these activities.
Usually, business entities try to collect information about customer. this can be done using several channels such as loyal programs, delivery records, credit card transactions or surveys. When the collected info is displayed on map, it represents a treasure. Location Analytics utilize this treasure to perform a customer geo-profiling based on age, buying habits or other criteria. Then, they may plan for the effective campaign.
The end customer is the final spot in a the supply chain. However, the whole chain includes movement of raw materials, semi-processed goods and final products between several locations until the end product reaches the end customer.
Cost of moving goods is part of the total product cost. High distribution costs restlts in high prices of the end products therefore, each business manager needs to minimize the distribution costs in order to attract more customers and win a bigger market share.
Assume that you have a fleet of vehicles that distributes goods from warehouses to retail stores. Or you have technical teams who move from a site to another for maintenance tasks. In either cases, GIS tools can help in planning the efficient routes for your vehicles or teams. the target is transporting more goods in less time and fewer number of cars.
Moreover, managers can use AVL (Automatic Vehicle Locations) systems so that they can monitoring the vehicles during their trips. accordingly, they can ensure that drivers follow their assigned routes. In addition, drivers may visualize their assigned routs on maps using mobile devices.
The whole setup is aiming at utilizing location analytics for optimizing the distribution process.
Customer satisfaction is a critical factor for the continuity of business growth. Some statistics say it costs you 5 times to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. So, it is always important to keep enhancing the customer service. GIS tools provide the supports for analyzing locations and dealing with different scenarios.
People will visit your website or contact your call center to inquire about your products and services. Then, you can help them reaching you by locating these potential customers and guide them to the nearest store or branch. Alternatively, you may locate their addresses so that your own team can plan for delivering the goods to the customers.
An important scenario is responding to complaints. If a customer contacts you because of problem in a product, you may need to record the complaint location and direct the related departments to handle it.
At the end of year, Location Analytics help managers to analyze the performance during that period. they can detect regions with higher customer complaints, or the regions with higher inquiries about new products and services.
Moreover, information received can be used as an input for the marketing team.
Managers depend on Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to evaluate the performance and take the proper actions. Using Location Analytics, managers can have geo-enabled dashboards that provides a better visualization and analysis for different KPIs such as the distribution of sales numbers, revenues, profits, customer complaints, market penetration… etc.
Location Analytics adds more power to the commonly used Data Analytics and Business Intelligence tools. Moreover, Location Analytics works with Big Data for more powerful analytics.