Nowadays, it seems like smartphones are used for just about everything, from shopping, maps, and logging health and exercise information, to monitoring technology in homes and offices.
Mobile GPS data is shaking up the way the commercial real estate industry can assess real estate, Buxton Head of Product Phillip Crow and Head of Platform Sales Scott Jana said. The technology and analytics firm has three products that use mobile GPS data to monitor footfall to deliver new insights for building owners.
“We’ve been monitoring the mobile data space for many years,” Crow said. “For quite a while we didn’t feel the technology had reached the point of maturity, with enough consistency to use it. That changed a few years ago and now there is a significant number of applications collecting data. This has allowed us to incorporate mobile GPS data into our products, with impressive results.”
Incorporating mobile GPS data can provide granular visitor insights even in situations where the user does not have access to customer transaction records. A single device can be tracked and linked to many other sources of data to create a picture of the consumer persona visiting a piece of real estate. This can be used to assess the relative performance of a store, for example, or to decide whether a brand would be the right fit for a shopping center.
“Mobile GPS data is a piece of the complex CRE data puzzle. However, relying on mobile GPS data or footfall traffic alone doesn’t capture the entire story," Jana said. "Our tools can relate mobile GPS data back to the household level — who owns the phone, where they shop, how they live their lives. We take mobile GPS data to the next level and provide a deeper insight into who the customer is and what the opportunity would be at that location for a retailer or owner/developer looking to fill a vacancy.”
While Buxton’s tools anonymize all data gathered, the fact that they can append attributes down to the household level means that the insights generated are extremely accurate. This information can benefit both landlords and tenants, who might want to look at performance and potential in different ways.
For landlords, it provides facts about people visiting a shopping center, for example, which can aid in attracting new tenants or planning future renovations. Tenants, meanwhile, can assess whether a shopping center’s clientele is the right customer base for their brand.
Buxton’s tool Pulse, which will soon be publicly available, is designed to provide high-level industry trends for those who want to track the performance of a sector or specific brand. The tool Mobilytics — also freely available in a streamlined version as MobilyticsPro — similarly provides information about current performance but with much more information. A user can compare up to eight locations or brands, assessing foot traffic and visitor personas, for example.
“Mobilytics allows a brand to understand the competitor landscape, which is really valuable,” Jana said. “You can know more about what consumers are doing around you, not just how your own site is performing.”
The third tool, Match, is designed to answer the “‘what if?” questions. It leverages mobile data to create consumer profiles of locations and analyze how a brand’s existing sites compare to one under consideration. The aim is to help shopping center owners identify the tenants that are the best match for their property.
“When you think about the way retail used to work, you might have looked for a trade area with a large population and opened a store based on one-, three- and five-mile demographics,” Jana said. “But even if you have a dense consumer base nearby, are those the right customers for that brand? Match will identify whether a tenant is a good fit and how many ideal customers fall within that trade area.”
Having insights into how people engage with real estate is even more valuable as communities and shopping centers recover from the pandemic. New types of tenants are seeking spaces in shopping centers, for example, such as flexible workspaces or healthcare providers, all of which need to know whether their brands suit the consumer profile of the area.
Both Crow and Jana said they believe that the use of mobile GPS data will increase further, perhaps becoming more predictive in nature. Landlords are looking for new ways to attract tenants and partner with them to ensure success. Speaking with “facts instead of assumptions,” as Crow said, can help to avoid a repeat vacancy in 12 months’ time.