By Dean A. Stoecker, CEO, Alteryx, LLC
The “prediction gap” of expert opinion that endlessly disagrees between a rising economic recovery versus continuing recession illustrates the complexity and volatility of the marketplace, and how little room there is for retail chain real estate investment mistakes.
Site selection decisions – some of the most risky for retailers – have traditionally been made by separate divisions or within isolated decision-making silos using disparate data sources. Store location strategy typically started with real estate considerations like cost per square foot. From there, decisions trickled down from the C-level (who first consider balancing investment portfolios and managing shareholder expectations), to operations (who must then plan, staff and manage logistics), to merchandising (who must stock, display, position and promote), to marketing (who must research, segment and target the customer base to bring the right buyers in the door with the right media buys). Buying/leasing a new property and then allowing these decisions to flow downstream is no longer sound business practice.
There’s been talk about bringing decision-making out of these silos, but until now, it was almost impossible to walk the walk. The technology simply did not exist to bring together disparate data resources like POS feeds, customer data, demographics and geospatial business intelligence. There have been advances, but the solutions have never been flexible, comprehensive or fast enough.
But today, with the advent of cloud computing and the integration of nearly real-time data integration and analytics, the opportunity for every retailer to walk the walk has arrived. Every department in every retail organization now can participate in these critical decisions, and share in all the risks: real estate, marketing, merchandising and operational considerations should be optimized into every step of every project. This phenomenon is redefining best business practices for every multi-site retailer, large and small.
While their business models may be different – from coffee shops to apparel to convenience stores – the national and regional retailers that are going to survive and thrive are finding ways to take advantage of this depressed economy to expand their market presence with profitable new sites while capturing an increasing share of the customer’s wallet. The progressive early adopters using today’s advanced software tools and analytics are viewing their businesses holistically. It’s no longer just about ‘where’ a store is located. It’s also about how much it will cost to get product to the store, how much it will cost to buy media to drive the right consumers to that store, what competitive threats loom for each location, and how each store’s performance can be measured and managed according to shifting market conditions.
Unifying these information assets across all departments allows managers to immediately view and understand:
In essence, all costs of doing business in a specific location can now be considered collectively, before closing on any new store site. Store performance goes up, risk goes down, and metrics become clear and measurable.
The race to find the right real estate is exacerbated when managers have to sp