REAL ESTATE

Bojangles Knows Customer Demographics

BY Dan Berthiaume

New York — The three rules of retail real estate are the same as the three rules of any other type of real estate – “location, location, location.” But each retail chain has its own unique requirements for what makes a good location, and Charlotte, N.C.-based Bojangles’ Restaurants Inc. is getting some technical assistance in determining the best spots for new stores based on factors such as who lives nearby.

Scouting the Best Locations
Bojangles, which will have about 580 units by year’s end, had been using a variety of methods to analyze customer demographics, but was looking to further refine its demographic profiling. Boston-based private equity firm Advent International, Bojangles’ corporate parent, recommended that the retailer investigate customer analytics technology provider Buxton.

The company initially met with Buxton around the beginning of 2012 and decided to start testing Buxton’s remotely hosted SCOUT customer analytics application. Buxton hosts SCOUT on a Google Maps platform and Bojangles employees can obtain access via PC or mobile device.

“We use the tool in two or three ways,” said Eric Newman, executive VP & general counsel at Bojangles’. “It helps us visualize where customer bases are and isolate demographic characteristics of potential sites.”

Discovering New Data
In addition, Newman said Buxton’s analytical capabilities help Bojangles strategically lay out the location of franchise restaurants to avoid locating a unit between two trade areas. At the end of 2012, Bojangles began using the core of the product to estimate the range of sales projections. These estimates were based on the mix of customer demographics located within six minutes’ drive of a store. More recently, Bojangles began comparing projections to results and discovered some surprising revelations.

“We discovered some franchisees were having success with non-traditional demographics others were not obtaining,” said Newman. “We applied those learnings to other franchisees to avoid the self-fulfilling prophecy of avoiding certain parts of town.”

And when sales came in less than projected, Newman said Bojangles was able to dig in and usually find human issues, such as a poor opening or an owner not following the system correctly, to blame. Another discovery occurred when Bojangles superimposed internal data, such as site proximity to interstate highways.

“We discovered proximity to an interstate is a ‘super-plus’ we had underconsidered,” admitted Newman.

Newman said Bojangles will continue organically refining the data it feeds to the Buxton system. For example, sales significantly improved in 2012 compared to 2011, so the company will reset projections against those higher figures.

“We’re pleasantly surprised by how well it’s done,” Newman said.


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FedEx prepares for surge in holiday shipments

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FedEx anticipates moving more than 22 million shipments around the world on Cyber Monday, Dec. 2 —its busiest day in company history. The 11% year-over-year increase will be driven by online retailers feeding the FedEx Ground and FedEx SmartPost networks.

During the busiest week of the year, Dec. 1 – 7, FedEx expects more than 85 million shipments to move through its global networks. This is a 13% increase compared to last year’s busiest week. In addition to e-commerce, retail inventory such as personal consumer electronics, apparel and luxury goods will drive this increase in FedEx holiday volumes.

“Our workforce of more than 300,000 team members worldwide is ready to deliver the holidays once again this year,” said Frederick W. Smith, chairman, president and CEO of FedEx. “FedEx’s vast global network coupled with our broad suite of shipping solutions enable us to meet our customers’ every need during this busy time of the year.”

FedEx is responding to the continued boom in online purchasing with several new tools and solutions, including:

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FedEx expects to increase its workforce with tens of thousands of seasonal positions to help handle the surge in holiday shipments.

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Sears Home Appliance Showrooms get a makeover

BY CSA STAFF

Sears Home Appliance Showrooms has completely revamped its interior in an effort to make the shopping experience convenient for consumers.

The updated sales floor presentations include a new merchandising layout allowing showrooms to expand key lines such as built-in cooking, cooktops and laundry and improve customer shopping experiences with new displays of dishwashers and floor care.

Since Aug. 2013, more than 60 of the showrooms have been updated to the new expanded presentation. This new floor plan will be the company standard moving forward with all new locations.

"With our new showroom model, we’re not increasing the size of our sales floors, but rather, better utilizing our floor space to expand our merchandise offerings and showcase our products. This, in turn, will help our dedicated sales force provide customers with a higher level of service," said Susan Hilsenbeck, division VP, merchandising at Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores. "Customers can expect to find a simplified layout, better showcasing our dishwashers, cooktops, and built-in cooking appliances, including an expanded wall oven display. Plus, our laundry has also expanded, featuring additional top-load high-efficiency and front-load washers and dryers."

To celebrate the new look, Sears Home Appliance Showrooms will promote a nationwide event Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26. Customers can save on the select items during the two-day sale.

Sears Hometown and Outlet Stores and its dealers and franchisees operate 1,250 stores across all 50 states as well as in Puerto Rico and Bermuda.

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