Understanding store catchments

Understanding store catchments

Aug 23rd 2022

What is a store catchment?


Before we get into the nitty-gritty of store catchments, does  the business you work for operate stores in any of the following sectors?

• Childcare
• Aged care
• Fitness
• Retail Fuel
• QSR/café
• Supermarket
• Auto/Tyres
• Health

If so, the more you can learn about store catchments, the more you can profit from your knowledge and the more assistance GapMaps can provide with our superior technology and data sets.

A store catchment is an area around the store where most of your customers come from. They may not live there — it could be close to where they work, or an area they travel to frequently — but they have enough presence in the catchment area to become a customer of your business.

Below is a graphical representation from GapMaps Live of a store catchment using Visitation Data to identify where most customers travel from to visit a location:

graphical representation from GapMaps Live of a store catchment using Visitation Data to identify where most customers travel from to visit a location

Why are store catchments important?


Store catchments are important to your business for a range of reasons, but these are the main ones:

• They tell you about your customer demographic
• They identify your competitors
• They enable growth opportunities to be identified that minimise potential cannibalisation of your businesses
• They provide a focused area for targeted marketing activity

Armed with more detailed knowledge about the store catchments, you should be able to exploit this data to improve your bottom line.


What exactly defines a store catchment area?


It may seem like a logical deduction: surely a catchment area is defined by geographical factors?

But this isn’t always the case. A store catchment area doesn’t turn on how close or far a customer lives from your store, the suburb or postcode they live in, or even the time it takes for them to reach you.

Instead, it’s all about their convenience.

And convenience, as a concept, is highly variable across products and sectors, as you’ll see.

With GapMaps Live, you’re able to see catchment areas right down to the micro level in one simple location intelligence platform. Overlay any demographic factors you want to help understand the catchment.

Understanding catchment size


The catchment size may well vary depending on your type of business. It could be helpful to consider a couple of use cases as examples.

Small catchments

Take a busy coffee shop in a CBD tower. The overwhelming majority of customers come from the floors above. At the most, the shop may get customers from a few hundred metres away. That’s because it’s convenient for them to patronise that store in that location.

Of course, in this hypothetical, all other factors like the quality of coffee and food are equal to the nearby rivals.

Other examples of businesses with small catchments include:

• Supermarkets
• Childcare centres
• Fitness centres

Data doesn’t lie

At GapMaps, our data sometimes tells us a different story from the story businesses and customers tell themselves. A childcare customer may claim they make their choice of a facility on factors like the staff, room sizes, outdoor spaces and the ‘feel’ of it. And these factors may all contribute to some extent, but when displayed on a map their proximity to the centre is the dominant factor.

Again, this points out the importance of convenience in a customer’s decision. It is most convenient for them to drop their kids off and pick them up close to home.

Large catchments

Other businesses have very large catchment areas indeed. Melbourne is one of the largest cities in the world (32nd) but ranks 955th in population density, and it has only two IKEA stores.

IKEA judges it is convenient for customers to travel for a half-an-hour or more to shop there, and based on their success, they’re probably right for their specialised products.

People will also travel long distances for:

• Large format retailers
• Specialist/boutique retailers
• Specialist service providers

While specialist retailers or service providers can be small or large in size what makes them unique is that there are few businesses providing the same products or services so they are likely to draw in customers that travel longer distances than their nearest McDonalds.

With GapMaps catchment mapping taking the guesswork out of your location intel, it’s so much easier to understand your business and find new ways to grow sales.

Catchment mapping prevents cannibalising your other stores


In a perfect world, you can imagine a fast-food chain like McDonald’s would have its stores so ideally placed that no store would share a customer with another store. Because every sale to one store is a loss to another, a phenomenon known as cannibalising.

You can be certain that they pay great attention to this, as do their franchisees. Catchment mapping is an excellent way to reduce cannibalising between multiple stores by more clearly defining customers and their behaviours.


Use GapMaps Live platform features to aid catchment mapping


GapMaps Live gives you tremendous flexibility in creating catchments across your entire network to identify optimal store locations.

Create one or multiple catchments with a range of methods and options. Include factors like radius, travel type (drive time or walk time from your store) and customer visitation data. This can provide powerful insights around where your true catchment areas are, using location data on mobile phones where users have given their permission to track their location.

These insights can help you answer questions like:

• Where are visitors coming from?
• Why are my customers visiting a location?
• What does my trade area look like?
• How many of my customers are within my catchments — and how many from beyond?
• How far will my customers travel to get to my location?
• What are the catchment areas of my locations? How do they compare to my competitors’ locations?

Use the smallest data blocks, government boundaries or build your catchment with customer mobility data. The world is your oyster when it comes to GapMaps Live.

Catchment mapping has never been easier. GapMaps Live is the only tool you need to make better location decisions, faster.

As you can see, there’s much to learn about catchment mapping and many benefits from exploring it in detail.

If you’d like to chat about how we can help you utilise catchment mapping in GapMaps Live to improve your business, please get in touch.

Posted by GapMaps

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