Summary: Mapping of potential retail outlets is one of the first steps in putting a distribution channel in place while launching a telecommunications brand. This is the second article in a two-part series on utilizing location intelligence to organize and understand information through a geographical perspective, enabling informed decisions about retail marketing. Author Abhishek Bhardwaj, associate consultant for Infosys, uses Bangalore, India as the setting for his analysis.
What is Location Intelligence for Retail Marketing and Mapping?
The discussion in part-one detailed the initial phases in gathering geographical intelligence for the territory through retail mapping. We also discussed a few scenarios demonstrating the power of retail mapping for strategic decision making. The aforementioned discussion is part of a greater concept called location intelligence.
Location intelligence provides the ability to organize and understand information through a geographical perspective to facilitate informed decision making. This helps organizations align better with the realities of their market territories, and thus improves performance and results.
Examples of Solutions Providing Location Intelligence
Location intelligence is a vast field. There are many vendors and system integrators that provide location intelligence solutions for various domains like healthcare, insurance, fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) and telecom. At this stage, it would be appropriate to have a look at some of these solutions/cases to understand the features of the contemporary solutions for location intelligence.
Verizon Wireless Field Force Manager (Xora | Verizon Field Force Manage Mobile Solutions for Business | GPS Mobile Enterprise Applications, 2012)
- Location Management: You can see where employees are now, where they’ve been, even how fast they’re driving. And you can set up email or text alerts when employees speed or go off-route.
- Electronic Timecards: Keep employees in the field, where they belong. Give them the tools to submit timecards on their mobile phones, easily track breaks and lunches, and accurately bill to different jobs. Give yourself the tools to automatically link timecard data to your payroll system. No more keying hand-written timecards.
- Job Dispatch: Your clipboard will gather dust. Your deliveries won’t. Shoot orders to your teams’ mobile phones as soon as they come in, with turn-by-turn directions. Know when they accept and complete job requests. Send the nearest employees to each job, saving time and fuel. Track jobs at every stage and keep records. All of which means faster, better service and happier customers.
Xora GPS TimeTrack (Xora GPS TimeTrack Mobile Solutions for Business | GPS Mobile Enterprise Applications | Xora, 2012)
Using any GPS-enabled mobile device, the Xora GPS TimeTrack mobile app collects and reports location, time and job information in near real-time, giving you the immediate information you need to make daily operational decisions and the historical trends data you need to assess and improve the overall productivity and performance of your mobile employees.
Galigeo Solutions for Sales and Territory Management (Location Intelligence and Geomarketing to Improve Sales Territory Management, 2012)
By combining data from the business intelligence and the location dimension, Galigeo’s software solutions enable analysis that results in a better understanding of the density and distribution of the clients within the territory. Therefore, it is easier to transform the insight into an action plan to improve your selling strategies.
Location Intelligence Solutions for Sales Territory Management Help:
- Measure performance of each region
- Identify underperforming sales territories
- Adjust resource allocation
- Outline high-potential zones to explore new services
- Improve visits by sales representatives
- Redefine territory assignment
- Simplify territory realignment
- Improve travel time use
- Reduce travel costs
- Improve sales coverage
- Gain better insight into sales effectiveness and performance by territory
Oracle Spatial and Oracle Locator - Location Features for Oracle Database 11g (Oracle, 2012)
The location features in Oracle Database 11g provide a platform that supports a wide range of applications—from automated mapping/facilities management and geographic information systems (GIS), to wireless location services and location-enabled business intelligence.
Oracle Locator is a feature of Oracle Database 11g Standard and Enterprise Editions that provides core location functionality needed by most customer applications. Oracle Spatial is an option for Oracle Enterprise Edition that provides advanced spatial features to support high-end GIS. Oracle Fusion Middleware MapViewer is an Oracle Application Server Java component and JDeveloper extension used for map rendering and viewing geospatial data managed by Oracle Spatial or Locator. Oracle Spatial, Oracle Locator and MapViewer comply with germane (Open Geospatial Consortium, 1994).
Power of Location Intelligence – Prospective Solution
Having discussed location intelligence, let us now have a look at the functionality that a prospective solution using location intelligence can offer. The case discussed here pertains to a sales representative whose responsibility it is to ensure channel satisfaction by proactively addressing their concerns and grievances.
Consider a sales representative starting his day. He has a hand-held GPS device. The organization for which he works has a location intelligence system in place. He is assigned a huge territory in a big city. He has more than 500 outlets assigned to him selling a portfolio of voice and data products. The map and the story below further show the power of a location intelligence system. Location and timing of various events given in the example are marked on the map.
Chronological Sequence of Events for the Prospective Location Intelligence Solution
The events given below show a proactive allocation of activities to sales representatives based on pre-set criteria deemed to be significant for attention by a location intelligence system. This automation can lead to higher operational efficiency and better utilization of time and resources.
Such a solution is not only useful for sales representatives, it can be used for many other functions of a telecom organization like network planning, network infrastructure management, allocation of field force, route optimization of sales representatives/field agents, etc. Those applications are beyond the scope of this paper.
- The sales representative starts from his home at 8 a.m. (refer to Figure 1; southeast on map) to reach the distributor’s office (northwest on map). He is on a regular field visit as part of his role.
- Around 8:05 a.m. the sales representative is within a reasonable distance of an “A” category outlet, X, whose complaint regarding non-availability of branding elements has been pending for three days. The outlet is critical for the organization. It is his responsibility to ensure channel satisfaction in the assigned territory. The location intelligence system senses the proximity of the sales representative to this outlet and flashes a message. The sales representative pays a visit to quell the concerns of the outlet management and assures speedy resolution. The retailer appreciates the attention given to his problem.
- After satisfying the retailer’s concerns, the sales representative starts from outlet X at 8:20 a.m. Five minutes later, at 8:25 a.m., the location intelligence system flashes the message regarding an action item for another outlet, Y. Outlet Y requested special branding to compete with a nearby outlet selling competitor’s products. The outlet is in close proximity to the current location of the sales representative. He discusses the possible branding choices with the retailer. The retailer at outlet Y appreciates the care and attention being paid by the sales representative. He assures better sales.
- At 8:45 a.m., a flash message appears on the sales rep’s hand-held device regarding a nearby outlet, Z. As per the message, the outlet is newly opened. The sales representative checks if the branding is properly done and whether the retailer is aware of various products and schemes offered by the organization. The retailer is really impressed with the professionalism of the organization.
- The sales representative is on his way to the office of the distributor. At 9:15 a.m. the hand-held device flashes that the sales figures of two nearby outlets are very low. They are not forecasted to achieve their monthly targets. The sales representative visits these outlets to determine the cause. The retailers convey that they have not been provided inventory to sell. The sales representative apologizes for the glitch and conveys the message to his zonal manager to arrange for more stock for his territory. The retailers appreciate the monitoring being done by the organization regarding their performance. They request the sales representative to keep making such visits whenever he is near their location. The sales representative assures them that he will always make it a point to approach them proactively to resolve their issues.
Optimization of time and route of a sales representative using location intelligence – functionality
Figure 1: Part of Bangalore City, India, Map taken from Google Maps
The sales representative finally reaches his original destination of his distributor’s office. The solution has helped the sales representative cover five outlets en route to the distributor’s office and he reaches the office by 9:40 a.m. He conveys to the distributor that his staff should follow up with these outlets to make sure they receive a speedy resolution.
As a result, the sales representative is able to assist the channel partners. The message conveyed to the market is that the organization as a whole is very diligent about the smallest of concerns of its partners. The distributor is pleased by the diligent monitoring and proactive resolution provided by the sales representative. This helps increase the loyalty of everyone in the channel toward the organization.
These message flashes are also sent to the zonal manager. This helps the zonal manager analyze whether the sales representatives under him are making good use of their travel times. It leads to considerable savings on travel costs along with improved efficiency.
The telecom industry has a highly dynamic sales setup with multiple changes happening on a daily basis. It is feasible for a sales representative to track and pursue all these changes in a timely and effective manner. Location intelligence solutions help him to proactively deal with issues in his territory and optimize his travel to increase operational efficiency.
The use of information technology (IT) for retail mapping not only eliminates the disadvantages of the current process, but it also leads to various additional benefits. These benefits, in turn, impact an organization at the strategic level and make a huge impact on its revenue and profits. Accurate retail mapping is a critical asset for any organization. Even after the launch, the information from retail mapping contributes significantly to strategic decision making.
Retail mapping, as part of an overall marketing strategy, helps increase operational efficiency. Real-time sales updates help the sales representative to take immediate action when near the geographical point of sale. These real-time updates help to optimize the travel costs and simultaneously increase channel satisfaction and revenues.
- Open Geospatial Consortium. (1994). Retrieved April 2012, from Open Geospatial Consortium | OGC (R)
- Location Intelligence and Geomarketing to Improve Sales Territory Management. (2012). Retrieved April 2012, from Location Intelligence and Location Analytics software for Enterprises - Galigeo Solutions
- Xora | Verizon Field Force Manage Mobile Solutions for Business | GPS Mobile Enterprise Applications. (2012). Retrieved April 2012, from Mobile Business Solutions | GPS Mobile Enterprise Applications | Xora
- Xora GPS TimeTrack Mobile Solutions for Business | GPS Mobile Enterprise Applications | Xora. (2012). Retrieved April 2012, from Mobile Business Solutions | GPS Mobile Enterprise Applications | Xora
Oracle. (2012). Oracle Spatial, Locator, and Location-Based Services. Retrieved April 2012, from Oracle | Hardware and Software, Engineered to Work Together