When it comes to planning your C-store retail network, you don't just need to find and purchase the dirt. You also need to know what to put on that dirt in order to compete in the surrounding market. No business can afford to make that type of capital investment using guesswork. That's why data is of paramount importance to your retail network planning process. What do you need to get started?
In order to identify opportunities for site locations, you need access to clean and accurate data. You also need a clear interpretation of that data — otherwise, it's inactionable, useless.
Further, data for a single site isn't indicative of retail network success. That's why it's crucial that you have access to your data's correlation to the entire chain. And not just your chain, but the competitive mix that surrounds each location, as well.
With these four factors (access to data, interpretation of data, correlation of data, and awareness of competitive mix) you can count on a more advanced ability to plan for maximized network success, planning that's crucial so you're not stuck with a site that won't turn profits.
But what type of data points actually matter in this process?
You might think there's a standard list, things like competitor pricing or high-traffic times. But picking out single data points as the only markers of site strength or acquisition success leaves you without the correlation of network performance factors that planning so desperately demands.
Instead of eliminating what you presume to be useless data points, work toward generating projections based on customizeable factors using network planning tools. Successful retail network planning depends on everything from hours of operation to branding details.
To streamline the location scouting process and identify genuine capital and operational opportunities, it's important to use market intelligence in the right fashion — not just to have access to it. Guaranteed success can only come from accurate forecasting, which can only come from a weighted, refined algorithm that accounts for your site plans and the context they're being placed in, including consumer buying patterns and neighborhood demographics.
Uncovering the potential of one or multiple sites is just like uncovering the potential of any new initiative: testing is mandatory. But you can't just purchase, build and hope for the best. That's not a test. So aside from access to data, interpretation of the data, correlation of the data and a deep understanding of your competition, you also need the ability to iterate through multiple scenarios to uncover the right mix of site characteristics for extracting maximum potential.
If it sounds complicated, that's because it is. Decades of experience and market intelligence don't come easy, and neither does crafting an exceptional algorithm to help you dig into the important details. That's why finding a consulting and BI partner to help with retail network planning is more than advisable: it's necessary.