We’ve all been shopping online and decided we would rather see a product in person before buying it. Google tells you the closest address and business hours. You make the drive, only to see a sign on the door saying, “This store is currently closed.” Not a great consumer experience, is it?
If location information, and the information about the services available at that site, is not accurate and up to date at all times, businesses run the very real risk of losing buyers.
Location Is Everything
Businesses revolve around their consumers’ needs, and location is critical to meeting them. Location entails stores and sites, offices, manufacturing plants, distribution centers, ports and depots, service stations — the list is extensive.
Take, for instance, a retail store within a shopping mall. There are many points of entry to the mall. Where can people park to get to the store most easily?
Suppliers need to know where to deliver goods to. The business has a host of financial information, such as mortgage agreements, invoice billing needs, franchise or rental contracts, and local tax rates.
They must consider maintenance data (HVAC, contract services, etc.). There are also physical assets — furniture, payment machines, storage, shelving and display units, and specialist equipment — and the need for specific products to be sent to fit the store’s layout.
And of course, there are people — perhaps employees require specific qualifications, training or licenses — all which could differ by region.
That’s a huge amount and variety of data, all related to a store, typically captured in many different applications. This is almost certainly inconsistent and out of sync and needs to be accessible and maintained by various teams — which is why consolidating and managing it in a single place makes sense — a location or “site” master.
Consumers Demand the Right Info, Right Now
In recent months, we’ve seen spiking concerns from decision makers about how to manage that staggering amount of location-related data. The pandemic put pressure on companies to update information rapidly, even when involving potentially thousands of stores.
It’s a massive task, especially given that the information is constantly changing, such as opening hours, special hours for senior citizens, curbside pickup, and whether masks are required. Businesses must also consider specific towns or postal areas where the rules may vary.
“People want up-to-date, reliable information, that they can easily locate, whenever and wherever they are,” said Mark Jones, head of product programme at Mitchells & Butlers, which runs more than 1,780 pubs, bars, and restaurants throughout the United Kingdom. “We have to be much more accurate, all the time.”
Jones and his team asked themselves the question, “What do our guests really need to know?’” The answers ranged from how close the nearest train stations were from a restaurant to more granular details, such as whether there was access to children’s highchairs and how many.
The goal that was shaped was to allow managers, regional salespeople, and other personnel to easily update the information and push it out to multiple sources (restaurant websites, Google, etc.) at once.
Mastering Location Data
While most companies recognize the opportunities in their location data, it is often maintained inconsistently.
Relying on legacy systems with few data quality checks can result in dirty data, with different pieces of the data puzzle being stored in business function-specific applications or spreadsheets — all leading to a loss of confidence.
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However, when correctly mastered, location data comes together for a clear, 360° view in a “site master,” which can be shared and maintained by local site managers. Managing location information improves internal processes and leads to greater consumer experiences.
Advantages include the ability to:
- Rapidly update store information that buyers demand leading to better purchase opportunities
- Centralize, manage, and share consistent location and site-specific information
- Connect locations to products, providing store-specific product information
- Enable reporting in many different ways — by geography, brand, tax region, etc.
Superior Consumer Experience
We live in a results-driven world. How a business manages its data correlates directly to the consumer experience, and the consumer experience correlates directly to sales. Once location data has been mastered, businesses can take advantage of opportunities to improve the experience and meet future challenges.
Leveraging this information creates a differentiation for those businesses who take advantage of the power of location data, especially those connecting location, product, and consumer for the ultimate in consumer experience.
Having centralized, robust, and high-quality location data will be a great advantage for Mitchells & Butlers come spring, when the UK government will require calorie labeling for all restaurants, pubs, and cafes with 250 or more employees starting April 2022.
“We’re just scratching the surface of what we can do with location data,” Jones said.
Doug Kimball, Vice President, Industry and Solution Strategy & Matthew Cawsey, Director, Product Strategy — Solution Strategy Stibo Systems