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Location Data is a Must for Site Selection

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A willingness to adapt to new challenges comes part and parcel with the success of any business operation, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive beyond the typical ebbs and flows. Between difficult compliance requirements and the public’s general reluctance to shop in person at the beginning of the pandemic, many business owners have had to suspend plans for expansion, limit their operations or even shut down entirely.

As the country continues its transition to a post-pandemic reality, future business success hinges upon accounting for changing consumer dynamics and taking a data-led approach to retail site selection.

Consumer Behavior has Changed

The past two years have seen some dramatic changes in consumer and social behavior — not simply limited to the hoarding of essential household goods. Entire paradigms have shifted in how people live, where they go and how they engage, creating a broad set of challenges for industry leaders that are likely here to stay, even as COVID-related restrictions continue to lift.

For example:

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  • The advent of remote work culture has many families less interested in living in proximity to major urban areas.
  • Foot traffic in major commercial centers has declined, as many consumers are utilizing ecommerce for their shopping needs.
  • Areas that have historically relied on revenue from tourism are still feeling pain, despite many of the travel restrictions being relaxed.
  • Demand for delivery and contact-free services persists, resulting in fewer in-person visits to store and restaurant locations.
  • By and large, people are remaining within a closer proximity of home as remote work continues.

Despite all this, there is good news: in-person shopping is not simply going away forever. In point of fact, recent studies1 have even suggested a resurgence in consumer activity with respect to retail stores and shopping malls.

Moving forward, retailers will need to include location data analysis as part of a comprehensive site selection strategy before committing to their next move or expansion. Customer habits simply aren’t the same anymore, so having access to fresh, location-based insights is an absolute must when making strategic business decisions.

Location Intelligence Matters

The retail industry spends millions of dollars each year making real estate investments — a considerable risk without adequate assurances. With access to robust location-based data insights, retailers can feel confident in making the right business decisions and in maintaining an ongoing awareness of changing business and consumer dynamics as times goes on.

Location intelligence takes the guesswork out of site selection by providing key insights in the following areas:

  • Site comparison: Understand the most pertinent information of a given location and compare against the merits of other area locations.
  • Population demographics: Discover who and where people are to find the right trade areas and optimize site selection and marketing efforts. Furthermore, understand the nuances of a given community, including total number of households, median income, average age and ethnicity to optimize product fit.
  • White space analysis: Identify optimal markets, evaluate acquisition opportunities and follow synergistic brands. Additionally, traffic data such as vehicle volumes, drive times and trip data help to uncover underserved areas.
  • Competitive analysis: Learn where competitors are and how they’re performing. Leverage vehicle and footfall data to assess business activity around select areas and compare them against prospective sites.

It’s a new time for business, with new sets of norms, practices and available solutions. Adhering to the old rulebook of the pre-pandemic days is not a viable solution for businesses hoping to thrive.

Retailers that wish to continue steady growth will need to embrace new solutions that account for rapidly changing dynamics, and location-based data will help them to make the most informed strategic solutions.


Scott Sedlik is SVP at INRIX, a leading provider of connected car services and transportation analytics worldwide. His responsibilities include global sales, business development, and go-to-market strategy for federal, state, and regional government agencies and enterprises across 50 countries. Since joining the company in 2005, Sedlik has held numerous executive roles. He is a startup veteran with over 25 years of executive experience in strategic marketing, sales, product management, business development, and go-to-market strategies. He has a successful track record of building leadership positions with public and startup companies in emerging markets from early stage to global presence. Sedlik holds an MBA from the Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

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