New Store Opening: How Brands Use GIS Mapping for Strategic Growth

Retailers and restaurant chains play a constant game of Goldilocks and the Three Bears when hunting for the right site location to open a new store. One possible location may be in an area with a large enough population, but may be too close to a competitor. Another may be easily accessible, but not in an area with enough target consumers. So how do brands find just the right location to expand their business? This is where retailers and restaurant chains like Chick-Fil-A leverage GIS mapping software to help them make this decision.

Get Inside the Behaviors of Your Customers

No matter how perfect a retail site location is, it means nothing if a retailer’s consumers don’t live or shop in that location. When choosing a new location, retailers first have to get inside the mind of their customers and understand what their needs, wants, and purchase habits are. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do your customers like to shop at other stores surrounding the site location you’re interested in?
  • Do customers in that location need your products or services?
  • Will customers travel to your location?

GIS mapping helps you answer these questions by providing insights into customer behaviors and purchasing preferences. Let’s take Chick-Fil-A as an example. The renowned restaurant chain operates 2,200 locations and opens up to 100 new sites a year. When deciding on a new location, Chick-Fil-A heavily relies on the data and spatial analyses it gets from GIS mapping software. The brand starts with census data and builds out buyer personas to better understand who the consumers are in the area that is being considered. This data and being able to visualize consumer purchase habits and behaviors helps Chick-Fil-A make strategic decisions when opening up a new restaurant.

Strategize Locations Down to the Very Intersection

Besides customer analysis, companies use GIS mapping to get visibility into other aspects of making a retail site selection, such as distribution and delivery routes, facilities management, competitor locations, and other traffic generators like shopping malls, stadiums, and airports. Spatial analysis then helps brands analyze the relationships between all of these factors. If a new store is opened here, are the routes around the location reliable for delivery and distribution? Are there enough shopping centers and events around to consistently draw crowds of people who would shop or eat at your store?

For Chick-Fil-A, all these factors and more are considered when making a new site selection. Using spatial analysis, the restaurant chain can drill all the way down to the intersection to analyze potential new locations and determine if it’s a good spot to be in or not. At the same time, Chick-Fil-A uses the technology to view all its stores across the country, examine performance, identify trends, and determine why some stores are doing better than others.

GIS mapping software has become the key way for businesses like Chick-Fil-A to efficiently visualize and analyze a lot of data at once and make quicker, more strategic business expansion decisions. How are you currently deciding where to open a new store location? Find out how GIS mapping can work for you.