By Meghan Hall
Shopping center and retailers are increasingly looking for ways to attract customers to their brick and mortar locations as they continue to compete with e-commerce and online stores. Analytics platform Placer.ai has recently launched a smartphone data tracking app to help businesses predict customer’s movement and increase traffic flow to their storefronts. The Registry spoke with Noam Ben-Zvi, the chief executive officer and co-founder of Placer.ai, to get more insight on how investors and landlords in the retail market can use movement data to understand their client base.
Can you tell me a little bit about your position at Placer.ai and how the platform was formed? What type of information does it seek to provide to its users?
We’re data guys trained to make data-driven decisions. In my previous two startups, I was an App Annie addict. At some point, it dawned on me that the retail industry is lacking similar tools for the physical world, and movement data is the key to truly understanding what’s happening in the real world. Decisions in the retail industry are often cumbersome and expensive with little room for error. These decisions are made with intuition and guesswork. The challenge was to build an easy-to-use tool that provides accurate, dependable and actionable insights that could lead to data-driven decision-making for the entire retail economy. That was an exciting challenge, two years in the making.
The result was Placer.ai, the world’s most advanced foot traffic analytics platform that allows anyone in the retail industry to instantly generate insights into any physical place for a deeper understanding of audiences and competition.
Placer.ai now allows anyone to access valuable foot traffic data to reveal:
- Visitation Trends: Learn how many visitors by hour, day and month
- Competitive Data: Benchmark foot traffic, market share, audiences and other key metrics
- Customer Journey: Know where customers are coming from and going to
- Audience Insights: Identify customer demographics, interests and intent
- True Trade Area: Discover the most important areas driving revenue
- Churn Activity: Track customer churn and understand evolving consumer behavior
- Special Event Impact: Understand how large events affect business activity
What is Placer.ai’s current perception of the current brick and mortar retail market?
The brick and mortar retail market is going through rapid change. As with any change, this is creating a lot of opportunities along with the risk. It’s going to be important for the customer experience to be tailored to specific market interests and needs. This will enable differentiation in a challenging and crowded market. We’re seeing various experiments at new business models. Placer.ai’s data can help understand what’s working and what’s not in almost real time.
How does the data that Placer.ai collects translate to the real estate market? Has Placer.ai found that it has increased how effectively real estate professionals can market and invest in retail-oriented real estate? If so, by how much?
This technology is going to completely change how real estate professional do business and make decisions. Up until now, they’ve only had access to inaccurate, generalized data. Using our platform, these professionals now have access to valuable data as it pertains to their properties and their competitors. For the first time, it’s possible to know where customers work, reside and frequent with specificity. Additionally, we provide the tools required to benchmark the improvement and deterioration of properties against competitors. Now, it’s possible to get a complete understanding of a center’s health and ultimate potential. These insights help create compelling stories to drive leasing interest, analyze new acquisitions, add property management value to tenants and focus marketing efforts.
Once retailers have received Placer.ai’s analytics, how have they changed their approaches to the marketing and leasing of their spaces?
Placer.ai early adopter NewMark Merrill Companies, a leading shopping center owner and developer with over 75 centers, has leveraged the Placer.ai platform to shape leasing, marketing and center optimization decisions for over 40 different portfolio shopping centers. According to NewMark Merrill President and CEO Sandy Sigal, “Placer.ai eliminates the witchcraft and over-reliance on intuition in our industry, replacing the guesswork with real answers. For the first time, we know where customers work, reside and frequent with specificity. We benchmark the improvement and deterioration of our centers and tenants against competitors. And most importantly, we can now get a complete understanding of a center’s health and ultimate potential. It’s an absolute game changer.”
How does Placer.ai collect its data and what types of devices are used to collect data on human movement?
Placer.ai partners with hundreds of mobile applications and harnesses mobile data from tens of millions of devices. Placer.ai applies the latest in AI, machine learning and big data analytics to generate accurate insights and behavioral predictions for any location, store or geographic area.
Has Placer.ai run into any legal challenges regarding privacy during the collection of its data? Why or why not?
We take privacy seriously and believe that everyone should have the power to control the information they’re sharing. Specifically, every mobile application partner we work with must obtain consent to gather location data. We never collect Personally Identifiable Information, or attempt to re-identify users. Placer promises to only share information that is anonymized and aggregated.
What makes Placer.ai different from other intelligence platforms that measure trade areas and market demographics?
Placer.ai provides the most accurate and easy-to-use tool for analyzing trade areas, demographics, customer journeys and competitive benchmarking.
We work relentlessly to produce data and insights that are accurate, dependable and actionable.
Our in-house data-science team religiously filters sources to ingest only data of the highest caliber. We utilize state-of-art algorithms and apply a healthy dose of critical thinking to produce dependable results. Our results are tested and retested against external sources of ground truth to guarantee only the most accurate insights are produced to support strategic decision making.
We also offer a free online tool allowing anyone in the retail industry to get insights into any physical place. Now, anyone can make data-driven decisions with access to precise human movement analytics and a deeper understanding of audiences and competition.
Does Placer.ai plan to expand to any other sectors of real estate in the future? Why or why not?
Placer.ai’s mission is to become the Market Intelligence Platform for the entire retail industry. Anyone who needs to learn about how audiences move in physical places can use Placer.ai. This includes theme parks, hospitality, CPGs, financial investors and many more.
What does Placer.ai plan to do with the four million dollars of funding it recently received from investors?
The potential is exciting so you’ll soon see the following developments:
– Expand our engineering and sales teams to work with customers around the United States
– Extend our free tier to allow anyone to benefit from data driven decision
– Add additional data into our platform including online browsing data, psychographics, purchase data and other valuable types of information to deeply understand the consumers.
– Continue to apply AI and machine learning to solve real problems and make the data actionable.
Is there anything else you would like to add or emphasize that I have not touched upon?
We believe everyone should have access to consumer movement data in order to make the best decisions. The online world enjoys a significant advantage when making critical decisions given existing tools that provide precise visibility into consumers’ actions. For the first time, Placer.ai offers that same level of accurate, dependable and actionable information — now for the physical world.