Location is the key to everything
Retailers already have a pretty good sense of what people are buying and even how they’re moving through stores, but they don’t really know where customers are going once they leave. This knowledge could be very useful, however: If you want to improve your store or figure out how to market your company, knowing what else your customers are up to could go a long way. This type of data is starting to become available thanks in part to a Seattle-based startup called Placed.
We’ve been covering Placed for about a year, since it launched its first product targeting developers interested in learning where users were accessing their applications and mobile sites. The company has since expanded its operations to include a Panels service that lets the company track around the clock, on behalf of paying businesses, the physical location of customers who have downloaded the app (usually in exchange for a small monetary reward). It also has its own Panels app, unaffiliated with commercial customers, that allows Placed to provide market data on the physical movements of some 70,000 consumers.
This week, the company released a report highlighting some national findings from the first quarter, including, for example, what departments stores are most popular with what demographics, what business categories experienced the most increases in traffic, and what businesses have the highest and lowest affinities (i.e., people who visit one also visit, or don’t visit, the other). If you’re willing to pay, Placed will tell you pretty much anything you want to know, founder and CEO David Shim told me, broken down by geographic region, business type, demographic, you name it.
Shim noted a couple of actual users and potential users that I think highlight why this type of data is so valuable. One is a high-end retail business that found out that while female millenials enter its stores a lot, they don’t buy a lot. Rather, the stores they visit next are usually discount retailers such as Burlington Coat Factory and Ross. The suggestion is clear: These shoppers want to see what’s hot and then buy a reasonable facsimile at a lower price.
He also noted that some Las Vegas casinos are interested in running their own Placed panels to figure out what restaurants their guests are eating at once they leave the casino grounds. Now, if casinos can figure out where else on the Strip people are spending their money, they can make better choices when it comes time to swap out their own restaurants and shops.