After attending ICSC RECon this past May, we wanted to share and reflect on our experiences there. We compiled a few questions that we received from investors, teammates, and people we met at the show.
Q: Why was Spatial at ICSC RECon?
A: We have been working with retail clients and partners since January of this year, but we hadn’t felt like we fully entered the industry yet. RECon is the largest conference for retail real estate professionals and it presented itself as a great chance for us to debut the products and services we offer around geosocial data. Plus, the companies we’ve been working with for awhile now are pretty spread out geographically. It was great to get face-time and connect in person for a change.
Q: What is Spatial doing in retail that’s new?
A: We’re making geosocial data (location-based social media data) usable for retailers and property owners to understand what businesses would do well in a specific community.
To make real estate decisions, retailers have relied for years on location datasets. This includes demographics, surveys, traffic, and mobile data. Many companies have tried to help retailers understand the personalities and tendencies of people in communities with psychographics. Traditionally this has been done by taking some other dataset, like demographics or purchase data, and using this data to assign personalities to areas. Geosocial from Spatial comes from what real people are actually saying and doing in a community. For the first time we’re making this data available to support analytics in the retail industry.
Q: What are the use cases?
A: In retail real estate, there is an art and a science to location decisions such as site selection. Some clients use our data to aid in market research, getting a feel for what the people in the area are like and estimate the impact on their success. On the science side, predictive models for sales forecasts are widely used. Our data consistently improves the accuracy of these models.
We generally offer two options:
1) License our data
Larger retailers and restaurants often have their own internal data teams that love to work with our data and build it into their mapping software or sales forecasts. We generally supply them with our data and they can make the magic happen.
2) Perform analytics on our data
With other companies, we ingest their performance data for their stores and build a predictive model based purely on our geosocial data. We then deliver insights and reports that tells them which behaviors are affecting their performance and how to use this intel to inform future site selection.
We’re also helping companies on the other side of retail real estate: property owners & operators. They want to know which tenants will do well in their properties and have quality data tools to use in recruiting. We can perform analytics to determine the best tenants based on the interests of people in the community.
Q: What was the reaction at the conference?
We were expecting it to be a challenge to explain that we were doing something new. Fortunately, we came into the conference with established customers and partnerships in place that boosted our credibility. I think the adoption of massive mobile data in retail over the last several years has made companies more open to new, powerful datasets.
There are still frequent questions we received. Some compare our data to mobile data. It’s pretty easy to explain the difference: mobile data shows you how people move, geosocial measures what people talk about and do.
Others wondered about how we’re different than psychographics. This is a fair question, we do package our segments in a similar way to how psychographics are usually presented. This segmentation is a pretty natural way to package geosocial data, because in its raw form it captures the personalities of real people. Once we explain that psychographics are usually just repackaging of some other dataset it becomes pretty clear why we’re different.
For more about this, visit our FAQ page.
Q: How is the timing in the industry?
The timing is interesting for sure. News articles love to say that we’re going through a “Retail Apocalypse”. What’s obvious if you’re in this industry, is that retail is changing. That’s not a bad thing. Retailers are having to adjust which is why so many stores are closing. However, more stores opened last year than closed. Rules for retail success are changing and we’re witnessing how the industry adapts.
With the margin for error in picking the right location getting smaller, location data like ours is crucial. The changing strategies and store formats also present opportunities for companies to adopt cutting edge solutions like the ones we provide.
We believe we’re bringing retailers closer to the communities that want them. If we can more efficiently match people and business, this is the perfect time to do it.
To learn more, visit retail.spatial.ai