Everything You Need To Know About Location Intelligence

Learn how location intelligence data can provide actionable insights to retailers, real estate professionals, civic sector stakeholders, advertisers, CPG strategists, and more.

Everything You Need To Know About Location Intelligence

What is Location Intelligence?

Location intelligence, sometimes called location analytics, refers to meaningful information and actionable insights derived from the analysis of geospatial data. Location intelligence is used by professionals to make informed decisions in a wide variety of disciplines, ranging from epidemiology to agriculture and even national security. The term location intelligence is also sometimes used to describe the process or methodology of gathering and analyzing all the relevant information needed to make data-driven decisions that involve geographic locations. 

In business and urban planning, location intelligence is used to answer questions like:  

  • How are property values likely to change in a given area?
  • Where is the best place to locate a new store? 
  • Can any gaps be identified in local community services?
  • What kinds of restaurants would be a good fit for a particular neighborhood?

In today’s ever-evolving marketplace, reliable and comprehensive location intelligence has become a crucial tool for achieving business success.

What Does Location Intelligence Entail?

Location intelligence is obtained by integrating and analyzing a wide variety of geospatial datasets. Some of the key insights that can be achieved with location intelligence include – 

Venue Visitation Patterns: In the past, retailers and other professionals sought to learn about venue visitation patterns from customer surveys, focus groups, and more recently, credit card receipts. But today highly accurate and precise foot traffic data can be collected from mobile devices to generate detailed foot traffic metrics such as how many people visited a point of interest (POI) during a specified period of time and how long they spent there. 

Visitor Characteristics and Habits: Foot traffic analytics can be combined with demographic and psychographic data to provide insights regarding a specific location’s visitor base. For example, foot traffic patterns can be combined with census figures to determine the median household income (HHI) of a store’s visitor base. Foot traffic data can also be used to track customer journeys and discover where else they like to shop.

Location accessibility: Information on local traffic patterns and transportation infrastructure can provide insight into the accessibility of a particular venue. How easy is it to find? Do lots of people pass by it on their way to work and do traffic jams make the area difficult to reach? What kind of public transportation serves the area? 

Local Attributes: Additional geospatial datasets can provide in-depth information on the area surrounding a location – from development and construction plans to neighborhood crime rates.

Competitive Landscape: Location intelligence also provides insight into the competition. Where are potential competitors located and what kinds of audiences do they attract? On the flip side – what other businesses, or even popular local events, are likely to draw crowds that could augment a location’s performance?

Screenshot from Placer.ai's platform showing the venues often visited by visitors of a specific Walgreens location.
Location intelligence can include insights into the shopping journey and favorite places of a given retailer’s customers 

Key Applications of Location Intelligence

Location intelligence tools can help executives in a range of industries make informed decisions to enhance performance in areas such as: 

Commercial real estate (CRE): Commercial real estate professionals use location analytics to research investment opportunities, manage property portfolios, plan development, find suitable tenants, and more.

Retail and dining venues: Store owners, franchisers, and restaurateurs rely on location intelligence to identify high-demand locations, conduct trade area analysis and site selection, research potential competition, and evaluate venue performance. They also use it to optimize their business operations and improve customer experience.

Consumer packaged goods companies: CPG companies use location intelligence to choose the best retail partners and decide where to stock their merchandise. Foot traffic data on visits to particular venues, for example, can be coupled with demographic and psychographic data to find out where potential customers are likely to shop.

Municipalities: Location analytics is a crucial tool for urban planning. It allows local governments to accurately map out their community’s needs – from transportation infrastructure to local parks and hospitals. It also informs smart economic development decisions, helping officials attract relevant retailers to the region and decide how and where to invest limited budgets. 

Marketing professionals: Location intelligence which uncovers customer journeys can help advertisers optimize their campaigns and decide where to spend their money and which partnerships can yield results. The area surrounding a particular billboard, for example, can be analyzed to determine whether it is likely to reach relevant audiences.

A screenshot from Placer.ai's platform showing the supply and demand profile in a San Francisco shopping center
Location intelligence lets retailers map out supply and demand in a particular trade area

Location intelligence: A Use Case Example 

Imagine you run a chain of three trendy cafes in the midwest. You offer specialty baked goods – including a large selection of gluten free products – and an ideal space for remote workers to settle in with their laptops over a matcha latte or a cup of joe. Your business is doing well, and you’ve decided to expand.

One of the locations you’re considering is on a side street just off the main drag of a mid-size city. To determine whether it might be a good fit for you, you’ll need to gather and analyze a number of complex metrics about the location:

  • Local Work and Coffee Habits: Using location intelligence, you will need to map out the venue’s predicted trade area and deeply analyze its customer base. Does the cafe's actual trade area include a sizable number of people that like fancy coffee drinks and specialty baked goods? Are gluten free products popular? Are there enough remote workers to create sustainable demand for places to plug in during the day? 
  • Visit Patterns: How many people pass by the location each day, and what are their journeys? Are they on their way to work or doing errands as they work from home?
  • Competing Cafes: Are there other cafes that cater to digital nomads or offer gluten free baked goods? If so – how many people do they attract and what are their precise trade areas? Is the market saturated or is there room for more venues?
  • Migration Trends: Is the town an up-and-coming hotspot for young families? What is the local population density and how is it projected to change?
  • Neighborhood Features: How accessible is the location by public transportation? Is there parking in the area? Are there neighborhood development projects planned or underway? What about local crime rates?  

Location intelligence is also crucial to running the cafes you already have. It can help you decide things like where and how to target marketing efforts; how to optimize opening hours to take maximum advantage of local foot traffic trends; and what kinds of products to stock. 

Finding and analyzing all this information can be overwhelming. To do it effectively, you’ll need a location intelligence platform that integrates and synthesizes all the necessary data points, in a user-friendly and accessible manner. 

Choosing a Location Intelligence Platform

To usefully guide decision-making, location intelligence platforms should meet a number of criteria:

Comprehensiveness: The platform should incorporate multiple datasets, so that users can account for all the relevant metrics in their location analysis. In addition to geospatial data and POIs, the platform should include foot traffic analytics, demographic and psychographic datasets, local zoning and development information, and more. 

Accuracy and Precision: The data must be accurate, granular, and up to date. Basing business and development decisions on outdated or imprecise location intelligence can cost companies thousands or even millions of dollars.

Actionability: Given the vast amount of data that is available these days, business owners and other professionals need intuitive, well-built tools that can process all the relevant information and provide users with actionable insights, without overwhelming them with too much information.

Approach to Privacy: In addition, as data collection techniques become ever more sophisticated, the challenge of providing users with granular insights – while still protecting individuals’ privacy – grows more complex. When choosing a location intelligence provider, it is important to find a company that is obsessively committed not just to accuracy, but to privacy as well. 

Placer.ai Location Intelligence Software

Placer.ai’s location intelligence solution uses machine learning and data science to generate accurate foot traffic analytics that allow businesses and civic stakeholders to closely analyze visitation patterns and better understand visitors’ behavior and preferences To ensure privacy, Placer works with data it receives after it has been stripped of personal identifiers – and only provides its customers with aggregated, statistical information about physical locations.

Visitation data can be further leveraged when coupled with a host of other datasets provided by the platform, including demographic, behavioral, social, environmental, and business data. Placer’s Marketplace allows users to choose the datasets they want to incorporate into their analysis, and seamlessly add them to their dashboards. Placer’s platform also includes advanced reports that quickly synthesizes all the relevant location-based information to provide executives with immediate, actionable insights For example, Placer.ai’s Void Analysis report instantly generates a list of the most promising prospective tenants for any shopping center, based on a variety of factors.. 

A screenshot from Placer.ai's Void Analysis tool
Placer’s Void Analysis report leverages multiple metrics and sources to highlight the ideal tenants

The Importance of Location Intelligence for Business

Today, a growing number of industries are dominated by tech-savvy players, who harness business intelligence to optimize decision-making and maximize profits. Location analytics in particular – one of the most important kinds of business intelligence – has become key to running a successful enterprise. Finding a location intelligence provider that offers easy access to all the necessary data, as well as the right tools to analyze it, can make the difference between launching a successful business and getting lost in the pack.

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