Speaking to Blair and Sarah (our CEO and COO respectively) last week, we got chatting about whether 10 years ago, they saw themselves sitting here with a team of 40, running projects both UK and internationally. The answer was no. Simply put, neither of them thought that by 2021 Geolytix would have grown as internationally as it had done, and they spoke wonders of everyone involved who had made it happen.
Whilst Geolytix has an increasing international presence, the company was started at a kitchen table in London, and so for our 10 year anniversary we thought we would celebrate 10 of our UK projects that have helped us develop into the company we are today.
Asda was one of Geolytix’ first clients, and we’ve been working with them for 9 years now, initially helping them overhaul their new store forecasting processes and new space strategy. We work alongside their in-house team, supporting them in coaching and mentoring. David Dodd, Market Strategy Manager says “Geolytix have mentored and up-skilled the team. The work we have done with Geolytix has shaped our strategy… Geolytix are helping us to invest wisely”.
Camelot approached us with the question ‘How can we predict any future revenue potential from new lottery terminals, marketing strategies and product innovation if we don’t have a customer loyalty card?' Essentially Camelot didn’t know who was purchasing from their physical in-store terminals and so couldn’t determine what the best next step was to be. Through surveys, understanding online behaviour, utilising mobility data and more, Paul Clarke (Camelot Retail Planning Manager) said “Geolytix have transformed our location planning capability…they have… enabled us to make better decisions where location matters”.
Whilst already having an in-house team of location planning experts, valuable time was being taken to account for localised and unique catchments. The team asked for support automating catchments that reflected what the in-house team would typically draw. We worked with the team on-site, emphasising the notion that we we work together as one team, helping upskill the Co-op team as we worked. Jen Carmichael, Head of Property Strategy & Insight at Co-op said, “this ensure[d] we have the best insight to inform our strategic recommendations and also [save] us time that we can re-invest elsewhere in the team”.
Working with franchisees adds another dimension to network planning and this is what we faced when working with Dominos. The challenge was to help Dominos be the number one pizza company in each neighbourhood, whilst also focusing on franchisee profitability. For this, understanding what really resulted in store performance, alongside the impacts of self-cannibalisation, were crucial. Craig Donnellan, Head of Location Planning at Dominos said, “Work[ing] with Geolytix…enabled us to form a consistent approach to new site forecasting…The collaborative approach has resulted in us being able to make decisions around our future location strategy”.
The COVID pandemic impacted Britain’s high streets like we had never seen before, and we are seeing clients present different questions to us in the wake of (several) lockdowns. Harrogate Borough Council contacted us, asking for help creating a robust method of measuring high street activity levels to understand the impact of external events, and the effectiveness of recovery initiatives. Mobility data compared alongside a pre-covid baseline was crucial in understanding high street recovery. Providing these measurements in MAPP, our online mapping platform, allowed data and spatial visualisation. Daniel Harper (Executive Office, Economy & Transport at Harrogate Borough Council) said “the data provided by Geolytix has proved vital in measuring the impact of the Reopening the High Street Safety project funding…they listened carefully to challenges we had and quickly came u with value-for-money solutions.”
Mitchell & Butlers faced network planning challenges due to its multiple brands, from All Bar One to Miller & Carter to Harvester. The challenge predominantly faced was understanding each customer profile and brand catchment to help optimise the blueprint. We needed to create an integrated optimal network that accounted for all 15 brands (and the interplay in between); this resulted in running multi-scenarios as well as incorporating any potential new brands. Setting the team up with MAPP also enabled them to run analyses on a mobile device at any location. Nick Young, the Director of Acquisitions and Estate Agency at Mitchell & Butlers said Geolytix helped “us to use complex data combined with our existing knowledge to drive recommendations that [made] real sense for our business…we have an integrated toolset which enables our analyst to carry out complex queries.”
This was a slightly different project, and one we took with both hands running; we were challenged to build a web search tool that provided the right properties to view when typing in a postcode, and this relied on providing town and suburb boundaries that actually reflected where people wanted to live (including an accurate Point of Interest dataset e.g. schools, supermarkets etc.) Morgan Ross, IT Director at On the Market said Geolytix “supported our technical team with valuable advice”.
Gyms have always been popular, albeit it first week into the New Year when you have fresh determination to get into shape, the week after Easter when you realise you’ve eaten way too much chocolate, or (most recently) coming out of a lockdown and recognising not getting out for a daily walk wasn’t the best idea. Total Fitness, based in the North of England approached us wanting to understand the size of opportunity for new gym locations, considering customer profiles and catchments. Richard Millman, CEO, said “work[ing] with Geolytix quickly allowed us to understand the potential for increasing our market share…they have given us the insight to support our strategic decision making”.
With over 200 UK stores in the UK, investing in large, physical stores is a significant decisions for Wickes (specifically as customers are increasingly browsing and shopping online). Understanding the impact of a new store (including the impact of cannibalisation), as well as the role of the customer – are they picking up a pot of paint or a new kitchen?- is crucial. By understanding the customer profile, and building two bespoke models, including a gravity model to forecast sales for Core DIY we were able to ensure a consistent and accurate approach for the Wickes team. Chris Sweeney, Customer Insight Director at Wickes said “we have a forecasting and mapping tool at our fingertips that is used throughout our property planning…and a team of experts a phone call away.”
10. Marks & Spencer
Like many high street retailers, Marks and Spencer have a mix of both formats and locations, and its essential to understand how the different formats can align in a network blueprint efficiently. We helped the team at M&S understand the drivers and catchments of the different retail estates (Food, Clothing & Home), as well as running bulk national and regional scenarios to guide future blueprints. Robert Morray, Head of Location Planning at M&S, said, “Geolytix have worked with us to create a bespoke toolset, enabling us to proactively set our strategy and quickly answer an What If scenarios”.
Providing a legacy of learning.
As we collated this overview of a handful of our projects in the UK, one over-arching theme throughout is apparent. At Geolytix, we strive to provide a legacy of learning; instead of implementing the models and mapping tools and generating results, we help the in-house team to develop their learning and understanding so they can work independently with the tools we have built for them.
It must be noted that these are just a handful of our client projects (they are also featured on our website if you would like to read a little more in depth). We have now delivered projects in over 50 countries from Australia and Azerbaijan to Mexico and Mongolia and the list won’t stop here. Perhaps the target for the next 10 years should be 100 countries?
Kate McGoldrick, Communications Officer at Geolytix
Photo by Randy Tarampi on Unsplash