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The new never-normal increases the need for location data

An address is the starting point of any successful customer relationship. It is the most common interaction with a consumer, and easily the most valuable. Once we can accurately pinpoint where they live, we can gain further insight into what they need, what they like to buy, how they are best targeted, and with what messaging.

Geospatial expert Joe Francica on QSRs delivering the last mile

In our recent episode of Ask the Experts, my co-host Robert Dickson, global leader of Loqate’s professional services team, and I spoke with Joe Francica, Senior Director, Geospatial Strategy at Korem, a leading consultancy in geospatial data and software systems integrator, about the power and value of location and geospatial data to further develop and enhance customer relationships.

As enterprises reassess their information strategy, they are looking to find new ways to create and sell products and retain and acquire customers. Geospatial technology offers a path to innovation and can be a critical element in bolstering a data-driven strategy.

Traditionally, geospatial technology was in the government sector but now enterprises of all types are looking to take advantage of geospatial technology and location intelligence for a competitive advantage. Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) megabrands are among the sectors leveraging geospatial. “If you're not,” Francica warns “your competitors are already doing it and you're behind the curve.”

Sometimes leveraging location information may be a more reactive approach due a seismic shift in the landscape of their market. “One of the big seismic shifts was the pandemic,” says Francica. “All of a sudden, many businesses came to a grinding halt. CEOs, CMOs and CDOs were looking at each other and saying, ‘What do we do at this point?’"

Geospatial to the rescue

Many companies rose to the occasion with the help of location data. QSRs “transitioned very, very quickly to doing takeout and improving delivery,” said Francica.

Built on a solid foundation of location data, QSR brands learned how to “get people into the parking lot and get people through the takeout window,” said Francica. They were able to swiftly meet changing needs of a shifting consumer and may have emerged from COVID stronger than ever.

According to Francica, the focus on location data turned sharply once the pandemic hit, “when people realized, this is what I need to build my business. I have to really start using this geospatial data.”

Industry Analytics firm Gartner emphasizes the importance of adding location intelligence data and embedding it in mapping solutions. “This type of insight can produce real business results, such as analysis of driving patterns to optimize fleet performance.” Gartner reports. “However, a mere 23% of organizations use geospatial and location intelligence capabilities within their business intelligence and analytic platforms,” There is clearly plenty of opportunity for enterprises to continue to add location data to enhance both their analytical and operational workflows.

Delivering on delivery

“How do I get closer to the customer?” asks Francica. “How do I continue that interaction with the customer that makes it a meaningful relationship?” The whole issue of “the last mile” has become critically important to all businesses.

“Businesses that didn't think that they were in the delivery business now found that they have to go and do something,” Francica said. QSRs recognized that they had to significantly improve the customer experience. Customers are not very forgiving. Missing a delivery can mean losing a customer for good. “You better have really good quality address data,” said Francica “and you better get that product to the customer and get them to be as loyal as possible. If not, they're gone.”

For example, one Korem client, a chicken sandwich retailer in Canada, already had a delivery and online ordering system, but it was not very robust. “Two things had to change,” said Francica. “One, they had to source better address data; and two, they improved the user interface to be able to take the order.” After successfully upgrading both their systems and data they now have a continuous improvement dynamic that makes them even more competitive. “This whole idea of continuous improvement and upping your game in technology was one thing we did see during the pandemic,” Francica concluded.

Not a trivial pursuit

Enterprises tend to underestimate, however, the enormous amount of complexity in creating and curating location data and establishing a golden customer record. “It is not a trivial challenge collecting and authoring addresses for all countries and territories,” Robert Dickson reminds us. When using location data, it is important to find partners in the field with the expertise to access many different sources, bring them together, collate them, enhance them with both geographic and geospatial data, and then produce a single best-of-breed record.

 “Customers are all human,” said Dickson, “and humans make mistakes. When somebody misspells their name or puts in the wrong ZIP code, the data gets really dirty, really fast.” Even more reason why address validation is such a critical step in ensuring a successful customer journey.

“Whether it's delivering a package or a pizza,” said Francica, “it starts with fundamental address validation, geocoding, and getting the location data quality up to speed.” And that is something every growing brand needs to address.

You can watch our full interview with Joe Francica to learn more at LoqateTV: Ask the Experts.

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