Introduction to the Location Analysis Tool

The Location Analysis Tool provides the user the ability to analyze a set of locations to determine the potential location performance based on the demographic variables of potential clients who could visit the locations. The tool is a web-based or Microsoft Excel based tool that allows you to import a set of existing locations and then perform mathematical modelling on the locations to identify business opportunities around the locations. The tool can be used to evaluate the potential client base of existing locations and how changes to those locations, such as adding new locations, moving locations or removing locations will impact the landscape. 

Example uses of the Location Analysis Tool

  • Identify the best location for a new store site to maximize the number of potential customers with age 25-35.
  • Identify areas where customers have multiple store options and stores are ‘cannibalizing’ each other’s customers
  • Identify locations of strong customer potential, where marketing campaigns can be focused for maximum effect.
  • Evaluate the optimal locations for a set of mobile healthcare providers to ensure the easiest access for patients.
  • Evaluate how a set of locations are impacted by competitor locations.
  • Understand the impact of the variability of the attractiveness of a set of locations and determine "should I expand the size of a location?", "what is the value to remodeling?"

 

Locations

To perform the analysis, the Location Analysis Tool uses two main inputs - the set of locations to be evaluated and the set of demographic variables to be used to evaluate the locations.

Locations represent physical places on the map to be evaluated. These may represent stores, healthcare providers, churches, sports stadiums etc. The Location Analysis Tool uses three types of locations when evaluating the set of locations - current locations, competitor locations and proposed locations. None of these location types are required to use the tool – each can be used in different use cases. 

Current Locations

Current locations represent existing locations that should be considered when performing the analysis. In retail, this will be the set of stores that currently exist, in healthcare these may be the providers under your control. If your use case is only evaluating the impact of a set of new locations, you will not have current locations.

Competitor Locations

Competitors represent a set of locations that a customer, patient or user may decide to visit that isn’t in your control. In retail these would be competitor stores, in healthcare these are providers that are not under your control and in other use cases these are locations that would attract a user away from the set of locations that you are evaluating. Competitor locations are not required but can be a useful way to evaluate your own location performance and likely ability to penetrate certain target populations.

Proposed Locations

Proposed locations are the set of additions, changes and removals to be made to the current locations. This may be adding one or more locations or alternatively removing a location. If you are analyzing only existing locations, then no proposed locations are required.

When the Location Analysis tool is started, it asks whether or not you have any of the above location types in turn. For each type, you can choose to skip, add from Microsoft Excel (if you are running within Microsoft Excel), import from a text file (csv) or add locations manually.

Demographic Variables

Within the tool, the core source of analytical information is a library of demographic information. This information is used by the tool to evaluate how the locations are performing. The variables can be selected by the user as one of the ways to score each location. For example if the product you are selling targets young, working age individuals, then the  25-35 year old demographic variable can be used as the basis for the performance calculation.

The available demographics variable sets are based on trial type (trial or paid), license level or geographic location. If you do not see a demographic variable that you would like to see, please contact Visual Crossing Support via the forum. 

Starting the Location Analysis Tool

The tool can be run in Microsoft Excel or directly with in the web browser. When run as an Microsoft Excel add-in, the tool can read information directly from the Excel workbook, from locally imported text files or from user entered locations directly in the tool.

When run in the web browser, the tool can read locations from locally imported text files or from user entered locations.

Microsoft Excel

To start the tool in Microsoft Excel, insert the Location Analysis add-in from the add-in toolbar. Once installed, a new "Location Analysis" option will appear in the Microsoft Excel toolbar.

Clicking the toolbar presents the following two options: 

New analysis will open a new Location Analysis panel

Help will open the online help system for the Location Analysis tool.

 

Web browser

To start the tool in the browser, navigate to the following link:
https://cloud1.visualcrossing.com/locationanalysisaddin/location_analysis

How to Add Locations

For each location type (current, competitor and proposed), you can use one of the following methods to add a location. As described above, it is often not necessary to add all three types of locations - this will depend on your exact usage requirement.

Adding locations from Microsoft Excel

If you are running the tool within Microsoft Excel, the tool can import locations from a grid area within a worksheet. The area should be a table-like display with a set of cells representing the column headers:

To select the data, select only the header cells of the area. The tool will then read the column headers and then expand the area to include all the rows of the table.

Selecting the headers will pass the table headers to the tool. 

The tool reflects the current selection.

Adding locations from a text file

To add a location set from a text file such as a comma separated file (csv), choose the “Import from text file” option. The text file should be formatted as a table with the first row being the row headers.

Manually add locations

The final way to add locations is manually on the map itself. In this mode you can use the map to directly add a point. After selecting the option, either click on the map and the location will be populated or enter the address. Press the check mark to add the location. Multiple locations can be added in the same way.

Mapping the data to the required columns

The location analysis tool needs two core pieces of information to analyze the new location on the map – the name of the location and the geographic location represented as a latitude or longitude. The tool shows you the columns that it has found and offers the ability to modify the selection if necessary.

 

In addition to the core label and geographic location, it is also possible to include other fields such as the ‘attractiveness’ which is a relative measure of how likely it is a customer would choose one location over another. If no attractiveness is specified, every location is assigned an attractiveness value of one.

Main display

Scenarios

The tool uses the concept of scenarios to present different alternative options. For example, if you are considering five possible new locations for a store, each prospective store location will be a scenario. The tool uses scenarios to convey each possible option. Note that scenarios can be more complex than adding a single store – one scenario might be several possible changes such as adding a store, moving another store and even removing a third store. The tool will present the impact of all aspects of a scenario at once. This allows the impact of each scenario to be easily compared and ranked.

Key performance display

The Key performance display shows the list of scenarios and the value change for each scenario. The value is based around the demographic variable that you select. By default, the tool chooses ‘Population’ and therefore displays the expected change in the number of people for each proposed location.

The screenshot below shows a set of new locations we are considering. On the left, the top three candidate locations are shows along with the impact of those locations. If the list of scenarios is longer than the key performance display shows, you can hit on ‘All’ to show the full list. 

 

In addition to the list of scenarios, the key performance display also shows additional detail for the selected scenario. To select a different scenario, click on a scenario in the list. The top location, Saint Bernadette Statue, has the potential to access an additional 291,000 people. This selection is selected and is shown highlighted in yellow. On the right hand side of the screen is a summary bar chart for this location. You can see that this location would improve our access to population by 27%. It would have the effect of reducing our competitor population access by 5%

 This includes a comparison of the before and after values for both your locations and your competitor locations (if competitors have been chosen).

Map display

The map also shows information about the currently selected scenario. The map typically shows two layers -  the foreground layer and the analysis layer.

Foreground layer

The foreground layer is typically a point-based layer that either the Location Summary or the Scenario Summary

Location summary

The Location Summary displays all locations for the currently selected scenario colored by type – current, competitor or selected proposed location. This is used when the scenarios have both existing locations (current or competitor locations) and proposed locations. In the following map we see the map of the scenarios we considered in the previous section. You can observe the proposed location for this scenario along with the existing locations and competitors.

Scenario summary

The Scenario Summary shows the summary of all the scenarios. This is chosen when you are considering only new locations and do not have any existing locations. Each point on the map represents one of the potential sites. In the following map, five potential locations are being considered for a new sports stadium. Each location is a scenario that is compared to each other - larger pins indicate a larger potential of visitors to that location.

 

Analysis layer

The analysis layer adds significant analytical value to the tool. There are several layers available:

Target Rich Areas

Highlights areas of the currently selected variable that are not currently accessible to either the current locations or competitors. It is an excellent way to identify the right place to site a new location. The map is colored from red to blue by default. If you add a new location in a red are then it will not increase your potential access significantly. However, if you add a location in a blue area then you will significantly increase your potential access.

The value for particular are a combination of the value in the area of the location (for example cities will have a higher value than lower density rural areas) and the existing locations (your locations and competitors) that are already servicing a location. 

In the following map you can see the blue are area to the North East is the best location are for adding a store whereas the red area in the West is the weakest location. 

 

Cannibalization Analysis

This analysis layer highlights areas where your current locations compete with other locations. This allows you to quickly find locations that are served by multiple stores and therefore are possibly cannibalizing each other.

In the following example we see that the map is colored from red to blue. Red areas are areas with little or no service and so are accessible by zero stores. Blue areas are however serviced by up to five locations. In these areas there may be too many stores as a potential customer has five different stores they could easily reach. 

Probability

This layer shows the probability across the map of a customer visiting one of your locations (either current or proposed). This allows you to quickly identify areas where your competitors are strong, or the distance is further than the maximum distance. 

Areas are blue are areas of high probability of visiting your location, areas in red are more likely to attend a competitor location. Areas that are transparent are beyond the maximum range of the locations.

Using the map display

You can use the map to investigate multiple options. The key features to investigate is the current demographic variable and the maximum distance a customer would travel.

Demographic variables

The tool is continuously calculating the value of each scenario based on the selected demographic variable. By default, ‘Population’ is chosen and therefore you are shown the total population that can reach your locations and your competitor locations if chosen. For each scenario the tool displays the value and change from the current value ‘Before changes’. The tool shows you additional detail for the selected scenario including a chart of the changes.

Click on the current demographic variable to display the demographic variable chooser:

Click on the Source: will display the available demographic sets. Available sets will depend on your license status (trial or permanent) and subscription options. Please contact Visual Crossing Support for information on available demographic variable sets and to suggest additional variables that you would like to see.

 

 

Maximum distance

The maximum distance is the maximum distance that a customer would travel to find a location that offers the service in question. Therefore, each location can only reach customers within the maximum distance. You should choose the distance that is most appropriate for your locations and how far customers will travel to your locations.

Live probability tracking

The map includes the ability to highlight the locations that are accessible from the current mouse point location using the ‘live probability tracker’. This tool shows you a spider of the accessible locations from a point and also the probability of visiting a particular location. It is extremely useful in understanding the landscape of the map and the locations accessible to a particular location. See Live Probability Tracking for more information.

 

 

 

 

 

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