How Retailers Can Use Property Data to Stay Ahead of the Curve
To say that 2020 was a historic year defined by life-altering challenges and disruption would be an understatement. Businesses across every industry faced, and continue to face, hurdles they’d never imagined. Specifically, changes in consumer behavior in response to the pandemic and resulting economic recession put increased strain on the retail industry.
For instance, decreasing in-store traffic and increasing demand for online customer service led to novel operational challenges. Supply chains struggled to handle soaring order volumes and the logistics of curbside pickup and last-mile distribution demands, which hit businesses hard and fast. Learning how to reinvent operations in near-real time became a necessity. Processes and decision making that once took months were now being reduced to just weeks, days or even hours. In short, the retail industry was forced to re-examine their operational capabilities and make adjustments to better serve the needs of our new reality.
Whether it’s rethinking how to enhance the customer experience or forecasting market trends, two truths remain at the forefront of change: one, speed and agility are key in staying ahead of the curve and, two, big data analytics will play a particularly significant role in shaping the future of the retail industry. Here are three reasons why.
Growing Emphasis on Personal Commerce
According to Forbes, there’s an increase in frictionless buying environments on social media, where a consumer can move through the buyer journey — “from discovery to purchase” — without having to leave the platform, effectively creating a seamless customer experience. This is paving the way for retail brands to evolve from “the age of personalization” to the “age of personal commerce.”
Social platforms with marketplace capabilities, such as Instagram Shopping and Facebook’s Marketplace, have transformed conventional commerce, making the competition for traditional retail brands even more challenging and nuanced. To that end, it’s more critical than ever for brands to have access to the right data so they can accurately target the right prospects and personalize their experience.
Access to, and utilization of, robust customer data can improve a brand’s performance in the marketplace (and against competitors), and the boost return on investment of its marketing efforts. Accurately tying a customer’s digital footprint to a storefront’s footprint will be essential for brands to be successful in the future — and the now.
Location is Everything
Personal commerce is just one side of the data equation. In this new landscape where brick-and-mortar shopping is less popular, using data to better manage store locations and operations will be crucial for brands to stay ahead of the curve. Specifically, property-based data is a vital piece of the puzzle during the decision-making process when brands are scoping new site locations, de-selecting locations, or identifying alternate uses for current properties within their portfolio, such as facility considerations for last-mile delivery.
Additionally, in the current pandemic climate, many have uprooted their lives and moved to different parts of the country to either reduce their cost of living, increase their living space, or settle down in a more ideal location as they continue to work from home. Other shifting real estate dynamics include:
- increased housing demand, with Generation X and millennials driving the demand; and
- lower-priced home values increasing faster than higher-priced values (as of November 2020), as first-time buyers tend to look for homes within lower price ranges.
Using property data to keep abreast of these socioeconomic and real estate trends is critical for retail brands. Doing so allows them to keep a pulse on where and how their target audience is living and, ultimately, choose storefront locations where the probability of success is highest.
From Reactive to Proactive: Shifting Strategies
As the world and technology continue to move faster, and business processes keep evolving, retail establishments must go beyond just keeping up with and reacting to industry trends. To truly lead the pack, retail companies must proactively seek out the social, geographic and economic trends and tailwinds that have a direct impact on their brand — and use this intelligence to make smarter business decisions.
It’s not enough to just have data — it’s about understanding the power of it, and looking for opportunities where it can help to enhance the customer experience. From targeting the right prospects to analyzing current real estate and lifestyle trends, deriving insights from data is key to staying ahead of the curve.
Lorraine Hunte is the senior professional of product management at CoreLogic, a leading provider of consumer, financial and property data, analytics and services to business and government.