How Location Intelligence Can Help Support Local Businesses
Small businesses are the backbone of our country. The United States is home to 32.5 million small businesses, and these companies, in turn, employ 46.8 percent of the private workforce. Despite their prevalence, local businesses are challenged by the increasing popularity of big-box stores and online retailers. Complicating matters further are the rapidly changing interests of consumers, which have intensified due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What can these local businesses do to better position themselves against these market forces?
Location intelligence, a tried-and-true methodology among larger retailers, provides insight into how people, products and materials move throughout the world. With location intelligence and the help of economic development organizations, small businesses can gain a deeper understanding of market trends, consumer behaviors, foot traffic patterns and logistics operations.
The Benefits of Location Intelligence
Marketing and Sales
By using location intelligence to better understand customers, both current and prospective, companies can achieve strengthened brand awareness, improved customer experiences, and an increase in sales. How? The places consumers visit demonstrate what matters most to them and where their interests lie. Gaining these insights can enhance a company's approach to reaching and engaging with consumers. This can be especially beneficial for small businesses that are trying to attract a certain niche customer base or looking to strengthen their connections with existing customers.
For example, if a local bookstore learns that the most common place customers come from prior to visiting is a coffee shop, they may want to consider offering free coffee every Friday to the first 50 patrons. The location intelligence data, therefore, informs a great way to get customers into the store ahead of the weekend to pick out a new book.
A small business can utilize location analytics to gain insight into how its company is performing against competitors. For instance, a small business could analyze foot traffic to competitor locations to find out how many consumers its competitors are attracting vs. its own store locations. With this insight, a small business could determine if it’s outpacing its competition or if it needs to adjust its business strategies to ensure it catches up to competitors.
With location intelligence, small businesses can also explore where their competitors’ customers go before and after visiting their stores. This information can then be incorporated into conquesting campaigns to win over competitors’ customers.
Leveraging location intelligence to inform strategies within a small business also has a positive impact on business operations and reducing costs. This valuable data lends itself to accurate targeting and personalized delivery of experience and messaging. Costs for businesses are greatly reduced since there's less need for trial and error.
It also can help inform where it's best to open up an additional store location if a business is considering expansion. Location intelligence provides a window into where prospective customers with similar profiles to current ones are located. If a local furniture retailer finds that there's an overindex of millennial home improvers, for example, 50 miles east of the only location of their trendy boutique, perhaps opening another store in that popular area would be a wise growth tactic worth exploring.
Supply Chain and Logistics
Location intelligence also plays a huge part in helping businesses with supply chain risk management. With location intelligence, a business can monitor key locations within its supply chain for any irregularity in workforce activity. With this enhanced visibility, a business could predict disruptions to its supply chain sooner, mitigate those obstructions, and prevent them from happening in the future.
Companies that once had little, if any, visibility past the first tier of their supply chain can access information that identifies exactly where operations are being bottlenecked. They can use this information to course correct before the issue gets worse. This is important as the global supply chain remains impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
How to Work With Economic Development Organizations for Data
Economic development organizations (EDOs) help support local businesses and create satisfied communities. The organizations help small businesses make educated planning and operational decisions through various tools, including location intelligence. By working with an EDO to examine consumer movements happening in the real world, local businesses can find the right store location, reach more consumers, and improve their chances of success.
The quality of life for citizens in the surrounding community also greatly benefits as location-based insights from EDOs improve commercial and residential planning, public transportation, and public safety.
To locate local support and start working with EDOs, you can visit the U.S. Economic Development Administration’s directory, which provides links to EDA regional office contacts, state government contacts, and more.
Jeff White is the CEO and founder of Gravy Analytics. Founded in 2011, Gravy Analytics is the enterprise location technology company providing actionable intelligence to businesses.