4 Ways To Use Geospatial Data To Optimize Your Business

Find out how geospatial data can inform business strategy and optimize retail and real estate operations.

4 Ways To Use Geospatial Data To Optimize Your Business

What is Geospatial Data?

Geospatial data refers to any data that is tied to a specific geographic location. The term “geospatial data” is commonly used to describe information that is presented visually on a map with the purpose of facilitating complex location-based analyses. However, any data with a geographic component can be considered geospatial data. 

Geospatial data is used by professionals in a wide variety of fields – from environmental monitoring to emergency response planning – to gain an in-depth understanding of geographical phenomena and of how people interact with places in the real world. In business, location intelligence gleaned from geospatial data is used to conduct market research, optimize decision-making, and improve return on investment (ROI). Geospatial data is also used in urban planning, to inform economic development, and more.  

Mapping and Analyzing Geospatial Data 

There are several different ways of presenting and analyzing geospatial data.

Presenting geospatial data on a map – using a Geographic Information System (GIS) – can make it much easier to understand the relationships between different data points. John Snow’s famous cholera map of 1854, which used a form of dot map to link the disease outbreak to a specific London water pump, illustrates the effectiveness of geospatial data visualization. By overlaying different data sets on an accurate map of a particular location, insights can be derived that would be hard to glean from merely analyzing tables of data.

Original Cholera Map Created by John Snow in 1854, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Types of Geospatial Data

Common types of geospatial data include:

  • Topographical information, including the locations of bodies of water, landforms, mountain ranges, and other natural phenomena.
  • Data on local weather patterns.
  • The geographical coordinates of relevant points of interest (POIs), their addresses, and other identifying details. 
  • Foot traffic analytics, which provide insight into visitation patterns to specific POIs. 
  • User reviews for local restaurants, retail establishments and other attractions.
  • Location-specific demographic and psychographic data – including census data on a given population’s age and income distribution and information on their shopping habits and consumer preferences. Location-tagged social media activity (geosocial data) is also a form of geospatial data that provides insight into consumer behavior.
  • Information on area attributes like crime rates and construction and development plans.
  • Data on local businesses and potential competition. 

Location intelligence platforms, which often integrate GIS mapping with other forms of data analysis, allow users to harness the full potential of geospatial data to obtain relevant insights.

Visualizing geospatial data on a map can facilitate in-depth analysis

Business Uses of Geospatial Data: 4 Use Case Examples

To unlock the true potential of geospatial data, businesses need tools that allow them to quickly gather, integrate, and analyze vast quantities of information and easily layer multiple datasets on top of one another. And perhaps most importantly, they need accurate and up-to-date footfall data on which to base their analyses. 

In this section we will delve a bit more deeply into some of the ways that foot traffic analytics can be integrated with other geospatial datasets to glean actionable insights across industries. 

1. Leveraging Geospatial Data to Optimize Retail Operations

Geospatial data is critical to almost every stage of running a brick-and-mortar retail business – from choosing the best location for a new store to optimizing the pricing strategy and deciding which items to stock. 

Using metrics such as foot traffic trends, retailers can quickly and efficiently determine the number of daily, weekly, or monthly visits and unique visitors to their venue, as well as hourly breakdowns that show when their store is likely to be the busiest. They can analyze visits to their competition and discover their store’s true trade area – the zip codes where their actual visitors come from. 

Additional geospatial datasets can then be layered on top of the foot traffic data to give retailers a deep understanding of their visitors’ demographic characteristics, shopping habits, and consumer preferences, as well as those of their competitors. 

Geospatial foot traffic data can provide insight into store visitation patterns

2. Harnessing Geospatial Data to Operate a Retail Media Network 

Geospatial data is also crucial for allowing retailers to capitalize on the growing retail media network opportunity – which allows stores to utilize their physical footprints to generate advertising revenue. Physical visits are for in-store advertisements what ad impressions are for websites. And foot traffic data, combined with additional geospatial datasets, can yield the visitation metrics and audience segmentations needed to attract the right advertising partners.

Using geospatial data, businesses can accurately determine their true trade areas 

3. Evaluating Commercial Real Estate Opportunities with Geospatial Data

Real estate professionals also rely on geospatial data to analyze investment opportunities, manage risks, and optimize the operations of commercial properties. 

Imagine a commercial real estate (CRE) investor that is considering the purchase of a shopping center. In addition to traditional metrics like occupancy rates and rental fees, he or she will need geospatial data to assess the center’s health and the investment’s potential ROI. 

Using location analytics, the CRE investor can conduct a thorough analysis of the surrounding area and of foot traffic patterns to the center as a whole and to its individual stores. He or she can then analyze the venue’s location and audience with demographic and other geospatial datasets. 

Foot traffic analytics combined with other datasets allows businesses to deeply analyze their customer base

4. Utilizing Geospatial Insights to Secure Financing for a New Restaurant

Geospatial data can also be key to helping new businesses secure the financing they need to get off the ground.

Take the example of a chef that has decided to open a new restaurant and has chosen a tentative location for their venue. By using foot traffic data combined with other geospatial datasets, he or she can determine the restaurant’s predicted true trade area and analyze consumer demand – and make a strong case for the venue’s future success.

Placer.ai’s Integrated Geospatial Data Solution 

Placer.ai’s easy-to-use location intelligence platform provides businesses with the integrative tools they need to effectively utilize geospatial data. 

The foundation of Placer’s platform is accurate, reliable, comprehensive location analytics that are extrapolated using advanced data models. The data, which is carefully aggregated and stripped of personal identifiers to preserve privacy, provides users with unprecedented visibility into consumer foot traffic nationwide. 

Placer’s Data Marketplace

And foot traffic data is just the beginning. Using Placer’s Marketplace, retailers, commercial real estate brokers, civic stakeholders and others can effortlessly layer a host of other geospatial datasets on top of the visitation data to conduct complex analyses with the click of a button. Placer’s Marketplace includes more than 20 geospatial datasets that can be seamlessly integrated and used with its platform, including (among many others): 

  • Placer’s Migration Trends Report, which allows users to explore population changes at the state, county, CBSA or zip code level.
  • Spatial.ai’s PersonaLive, which combines store visitation with geosocial data to classify households into 80 different segments based on behavioral and demographic traits.
  • Applied Geographic Solutions’ (AGS) datasets, including Behavior and Attitudes, Consumer Expenditures.
  • STI Popstats, which offers demographic insights and future population growth forecasts.
  • Experium’s Mosaic, which segments consumers according to behavioral and demographic characteristics. 
  • Census data.
  • AGS’ CrimeRisk and Environment datasets, which provide details on weather and crime risks across areas of interest.  
  • Niche’s Neighborhood Grades dataset, which provides an assessment of the livability of any US neighborhood.
  • STI’s Market Outlook, which analyzes data from multiple sources to provide estimates of retail supply and unmet demand for dozens of different product and business categories.
  • AGS’ Retail Potential/Gap, which estimates consumer gaps and surpluses across categories.

Final Thoughts

Location intelligence derived from accurate, up-to-date, and comprehensive geospatial data has become key to decision-making across many industries. 

In this piece, we discussed some of the ways geospatial data can be harnessed to generate location intelligence that drives business success. For more use cases and examples of how location intelligence can fuel growth in fields from commercial real estate to municipal economic development, check out our Guides section here.

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