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How Location Data is Reshaping Commercial Real Estate

Thanks to the ubiquity of mobile phones, location data is becoming a strategic tool for almost every industry. Telecommunications companies have seized on these analytics to build new networks that provide even more detailed information about their uses. Insurance companies have mobilized geospatial insights to minimize policy risk. Retailers have used data about how people move about in their daily lives to understand the competition, find new customers, and make smart choices about site selection. 

The same is true for commercial real estate. For companies in this space, accurate geospatial data about a given area’s points of interest, mobility trends, and demographics can add functionality to sales platforms, sharpen marketing, and increase global competitive intelligence. Without accurate data-driven intelligence, these same organizations risk making costly decisions about customer engagement and capital investment that might have been avoided.  

Among the most popular tools for commercial real estate companies are the platforms that enable them to connect all their data, evaluate properties, and manage their sales pipelines. While companies like Placer (a location analytics provider) and Cherre (a real estate data platform) offer brokers out-of-the-box solutions, other businesses such as CBRE and Colliers have developed their own technologies. For brokers, these tools make it easy to identify, land, and list winning assets. Meanwhile, investors benefit from a seamless discovery experience that enables them to explore purchase and development opportunities remotely. Together, these solutions streamline investing, research, and operations.

In addition to providing information and capabilities like price indicators and virtual tours, PropTech platforms can be supercharged with location data, such as POI, mobility, and demographic data. Data about points of interest can provide information about physical locations that someone might find interesting (such as restaurants, parks, monuments, or brick-and-mortar stores), whereas mobility data measures people’s movements around such locations. Demographic data breaks a given population down by age, gender, ethnicity, employment status, and income, among other factors. 

Incorporating any combination of these analytics into real estate platforms can offer neighborhood scores that rate a property’s walkability or proximity to other accretive amenities. With resources like these at their fingertips, investors can make more intelligent decisions about where capital commitments will go furthest, and brokers can better position properties.

Planet Fitness, for example, might be looking to expand into the Venice Beach area of Los Angeles. By pairing location intelligence with real estate platforms, Planet Fitness can select sites that maximize the gym’s competitive advantage while giving quick access to complementary points of interest—from juice bars to supplement stores to the popular beach-side Boardwalk. 

For commercial brokerage companies, marketing requires precise targeting. In this space, audiences are often small and difficult to reach, so it’s not enough to simply take out a newspaper ad or purchase a radio spot. Location data provides brokers with a number of paths for making the most of advertising spend. Imagine, for example, that a broker has just listed a series of new, ground-level retail spaces that sit underneath a luxury apartment building. With geospatial insights, they can make a stronger case for the value of this location by providing information about foot traffic, medium consumer income, or competitor proximity. 

Armed with similar data, brokers can also devise smarter marketing strategies such as geotargeting or geofencing to connect with prospective investors and brands. The e-commerce company Warby Parker, for instance, could adopt these data-driven tactics to serve visitors at physical LensCrafters locations with tailored ads for a better deal on eyeglasses. In other words, location data can reveal whom to target as well as the best time and place for doing so. 

To advise and gain trust with customers and partners, commercial real estate companies need to be able to provide insights that will enable investors and brands to stay ahead of the competition. Whether it’s being purchased directly from a data vendor or obtained through a third-party location-intelligence platform, location data can offer customers a holistic understanding of the competitive landscape.

For a retailer looking to open a new location in Paris’ chic Marais district, for example, geospatial data can provide a snapshot of variables such as weather, footfall, and dwell times. What’s more, this information can be combined with accurate international datasets that increase intelligence about other points of interest, nearby competitors, complementary retailers, and consumer transit paths from elsewhere in the City of Light. By cross-referencing this data, a broker might offer the retailer the opportunity to select a site that maximizes sales and cuts out the competition.     

For a different example, imagine that a manufacturer is looking for the optimal site for a new factory abroad. To best serve this customer, a broker needs access to streamlined data that will support decision making. The manufacturer would benefit immensely from knowing, for instance, if a particular international site is close to major highways, gas stations, education centers, or public transit so that employees can arrive on time without issue. 

Think, too, how much that same manufacturer would stand to profit from other B2B insights based on location data. They could learn, for example, about nearby vendors, logistics hubs, or distribution centers, which together would facilitate lean manufacturing and minimize production delays. They might also discover how close a prospective site is to residential or urban areas from which they could source their future workforce. 

COVID has put unprecedented pressure on the real estate industry. Brokers need to build advantages on logistics, marketing, and competitive intelligence to best rivals and stay ahead in a relatively adverse market. With location intelligence, commercial property firms can build those advantages, better equipping sales and marketing teams while exploiting logistical efficiencies—in which case, investments in location data should pay for themselves.

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