How Location Intelligence
Can Support Local Economic Development During the
Holiday Season and Beyond

November 22, 2021

While many consumers shop at big-box stores and online retailers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, mom-and-pop shops have the chance to shine on Small Business Saturday. This holiday, which takes place on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, highlights the importance of shopping at the small businesses that serve as the backbone of local economies.

Although this holiday helps draw customers to small businesses, it can still be challenging for these businesses to thrive amid the increasing popularity of big-box stores and online retailers as well as the rapidly changing interests of consumers—both of which have intensified throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two business owners discuss sales on a tablet in their coffee shop.

Municipalities can support small businesses through local economic development organizations (EDOs) that strengthen communities by attracting new companies, helping existing companies grow, or assisting entrepreneurs with their businesses. But with the ever-evolving challenges that small businesses face, how can EDOs enhance their economic development strategies to support them? With location intelligence, EDOs can help small businesses succeed during the holiday shopping season and beyond.

Location intelligence provides insight into how people, products, and materials move throughout the world. At Gravy Analytics, we process billions of pseudonymous mobile location signals every day from millions of mobile devices to understand the data on where consumers go and why. With the insights derived from location intelligence, EDOs can gain a deeper understanding of local market trends, consumer behavior, foot traffic patterns, and much more. EDOs can then use these insights when working with small businesses to help them make important decisions. 

Here are some key ways location intelligence can help support small businesses.

Understand Consumer Interests

For small businesses, it’s critical for owners to keep a constant pulse on what consumers are interested in to ensure that the business is continuously meeting customer needs. Since local residents are typically a small business’s core customer base, it’s especially important for owners to keep up with consumer interests in their area versus national trends. By analyzing insights from location intelligence, EDOs can help small businesses learn more about their customers’ interests by looking at the other types of places their customers often visit. For example, if a local boutique observed that many of its customers also frequently shop at home goods stores, the boutique could conclude that its customers are interested in home décor products. This boutique could consider adding some home décor items to its selection to better serve the interests of its consumers and increase customer satisfaction.

Enhance Operations and Reduce Costs

EDOs can use location intelligence to determine which small businesses are experiencing changes in foot traffic and can then share this data with business owners. With this information, small business owners can better understand their customers’ shopping preferences and tailor their operations to fit consumer needs. For instance, foot traffic data could indicate to a small retail business that its customers are doing most of their holiday shopping on certain days or during particular hours. With these insights, the mom-and-pop retailer could make various adjustments to its operations (e.g., optimizing staffing levels, altering store hours, etc.) that could not only enhance customer experience and satisfaction, but also reduce costs.

Gauge Consumer Demand

EDOs can use location intelligence to study consumer behavior and determine what an area’s consumer demand is for certain industries, services, or products. These insights can be shared with new and existing businesses who can use them to inform business strategy. For example, if an EDO was working with an entrepreneur who wanted to open a gym, they could use location analytics to get an idea of how many local consumers would likely be interested in utilizing a gym based on their visits to other health or sports-related places. In addition to this, they also could understand where the highest concentration of these types of consumers are, which could help them when selecting a site for the new gym.

Economic Forecasting

Many EDOs use forecasting techniques to predict future economic trends that may occur in a city or region. To forecast, these organizations typically look at information like census data as well as economic indicators of the local community, such as retail sales and housing starts. However, by factoring in location intelligence alongside these types of data, EDOs can better forecast economic trends and determine what a local consumer market will be like in the next month, quarter, or year. They can then help businesses make strategic decisions in preparation of possible shifts in consumer trends. For example, an EDO could determine that retail sales are on an upward trajectory, but by enriching this data with consumer foot traffic, the EDO could identify the locations or areas consumers most frequently shop. Then, they could strategize with local businesses to capitalize on the predicted growth opportunity while also working to attract new businesses to that area, further strengthening the local economy.

EDOs Can Use Location Intelligence to Help Support Local Businesses

With the continued rise in popularity of big-box stores and online retailers coupled with the rapid shifts in consumer interests that have transpired throughout the pandemic, small businesses need to use a wide range of tools in order to remain competitive. By using location intelligence, EDOs can help small businesses gain more insight into their customers’ behaviors and interests as well as the local consumer market overall. With that knowledge, small businesses can adjust their strategies to best meet the needs of their customers and ultimately find success during the holiday shopping season and all year round.

To learn more about location intelligence and how it can improve your business strategy, contact Gravy Analytics today to speak with one of our experts.

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