As Seen in Connect Commercial Real Estate: Retail Takes Geolocation to the Next Level

By Dennis Kaiser

A recent Inc. article showed exactly how precise and useful geolocation data has become. The publication worked with Instagram to delve into user-generated, data-driven posts on the most Instagrammed company headquarters. Geotag data revealed which HQ’s were deemed worthy of posting (and tagging with “HQ” or “headquarters”) by employees, guests, and other visitors. The top three were Facebook’s offices in Menlo Park, CA, Instagram’s (no surprise) Menlo Park facility, and Spotify’s Stockholm, Sweden HQ.

Identifying competitively-positioned retail sites through geolocation is not cutting-edge technology. However, companies that specialize in mapping and data services are taking geolocation to the next level. In a recent survey, Metro Commercial polled 43 real estate advisors and brokers about their use and understanding of geolocation. The firm’s Matt Dailey shared a few insights from the survey findings in our latest 3 CRE Q&A.

Q: How will geolocation technology be used in the future?
With more and more people using smartphones and other devices that track GPS data, geolocation technology is becoming more efficient and representative of the population as a whole. Companies specializing in mapping and data services are capturing precise demographic data, and providing trade area insights to retail owners, landlords, and brokers in a user-friendly format. Over the next few years, we are going to see an increase in the validity and accuracy of data. Companies will look to embed add-in geo-sensing technology that can provide commercial real estate professionals with raw data with just a click of a button. Ultimately, accessibility will be a huge change, as population sample sizes increase and shed more light on trade area demographics, traffic patterns, and more.

Q: Why should mall and shopping center owners care about geolocation technology?
All shopping center landlords and owners should have some level of interest in geolocation technology as it can provide in-depth analysis into retail customers and where they are coming from. Prior to geolocation, defining trade areas was a bit of a guessing game. But now through advancements in this technology, we can gather concrete data and clearly define markets and the people in them. These geolocation tools are crucial, as they enable prospects to see the full potential of a retail site and evaluate available opportunities.

Q: Why is geolocation important to retail real estate?
Retail, like all real estate, comes down to location, location, location. We’ve witnessed retailers expand and open new, beautiful storefronts, only to fail due to poor location with low foot traffic. Retailers that are quickly expanding can benefit from geolocation tools and optimize decision making. Take IKEA for example. This retailer uses geolocation data to equally disperse its stores in dense markets. It knows the reach of every store, which can help it plan future locations. Overall, geolocation technology reduces the threat of store cannibalization, and helps to prevent over-saturation in potential markets.

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