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Retail outlets mapping

Sanjay K. Agarwala
Managing Director, Integrated Digital Systems, Calcutta

The Need for a Retail Outlets Mapping
Retail marketing has undergone a sea change in the last couple of years. In a market where brands are proliferating, shelf space getting rare and the customers multiplying, it has become imperative to assess whether the sales team and distribution network cover all the outlets in the city in an effective manner.

Question like:

  • Does my brand reach each and every outlet in the City?
  • Does my sales team have a count of outlets by type and by location?
  • Where should I do my merchandising?
  • What is my coverage in Central Calcutta?
  • Which, Where and how many outlets I need to focus?
  • On which streets are my competitors stronger?
  • Is my army of salespeople enough to cover all the outlets in the city?
  • In-Shop Promotion! Test Marketing! Trials! Budgeting!

Forms an important part of all sales meeting.

The Component

  1. Database
    • Digital Maps
    • Surveyed Outlets
    • Internal Database on supply and assets for each outlet.
  2. Software together with customized application
  3. Training & Support

This paper focuses on the first two aspect of the database component.

Digital Maps
Maps have guided humans on countless voyages of discovery. Maps unlock many of the answers deep inside our database and help discover its richness. Maps are ideal because all data have one thing in common- location. But what is the right kind of map for Retail Outlets Mapping.

Street level maps are available from 1:50,000 scale to 1:600 scale. The smaller the scale the more detailed the map features are. Retail outlets are represented as dots on a street map of a city.

Lower the scale, higher the resolution and more the details. More retail outlets can be plotted as you have lanes and by lanes on a lower scale map.

The choice of map scale is most important depending on the outlet density. Generally for most FMCG’s companies a map be selected.

Outlets Survey
Comprehensive filed survey will be required to map retail outlets on the city map. The market survey process is out lined as under:

  1. The first step is to print hardcopy outputs for Field Survey. The city is sub-divided into smaller zones depending on outlet density and street network. Each of these smaller zones are printed in a single A4 size paper and will be convenient for the field surveyor to mark the outlets while surveying.
  2. A list of existing retail outlets has to be generated with its unique code; route number; name and street address to be carried by the surveyor. The existing code number of an outlet will also form a part of the new survey. This is necessary to establish the dynamic link between the new survey data and the existing serviced outlets.
  3. After the survey is over with necessary quality and cross checks, the retail outlets will be plotted on the digital map with id as given on the survey sheet. Survey data is separately keyed in.
  4. Survey of Outlets – For survey of outlets it is important that-
    • All channel marketing parameters would have to be determined and freezed prior to questionnaire development.
    • The nature of data collected has to be determined
    • The type of outlets to be included has to be decided beforehand.
    • The likely variance in collection will be in the following quantitative areas like sales volume, stock holding, rental charges etc,

Survey of outlets is a very tedious, time consuming and expensive proposition. It is important that proper care is taken in surveying and mapping the outlets. The surveyed outlets forms the basis for all future analyses. The field surveyors are required to be trained on map handling and reading. Many-a-times outlets are plotted on the reverse direction. The surveyor walks south but the map is placed in the north direction in his folder. Design of the folder is also important for marking outlets in the street. Index maps showing various zooms is mandatory for the surveyor. More often than not field surveyors gets lost in maze of lanes and by lanes. Equally important is on how to deal with missing roads on the paper map and the how it should be marked (though approximately).

Maps unlock many of the answers deep inside our database and help discover its richness. Maps are ideal because all data have one thing in common – location.

Needless to say, the right selection of maps and proper survey are the first prerequisite for better retail outlets management system.