Retail census data for Africa – a strategic partnership

Frontline Market Research has conducted a retail census of 16 African countries, including South Africa. It is granular data that can be visualized and used for business development and route to market planning. The data is the most comprehensive of its kind that includes the density of retail outlets, modes of transport in accessing them, the condition of roads and innovation being used by retail outlets. To do retail censuses requires one to know the people of Africa and as Frontline’s saying goes you need to “meet the people, eat their food and drink their beer”.

Access to data, especially retail data, is a significant pain point of many commercial companies. The key problems they face is that it is not granular enough, it is out of date or it is of a poor quality. On top of this, the information cannot be visualized in a geospatial format. The conducting of a censuses in the 16 African countries provides a total universe of retail outlets in the areas surveyed. It is mainly the large metropolitan and urban areas of African countries where the census of retail outlets has been done.

Retail census data provides the ability to size the market, to track the share and volume of products and to quantify particular retail segments. It enables the targeting of retail outlets and developing route to market road maps.  A key value of retail censuses is that it allows companies to track the execution of the product distribution plans and much much more. To ensure the right insights are obtained from the retail census it is important to ask the right questions so as to get the right answers.

Invaluable insights are provided by using this approach that allows retail outlets to be profiled, opportunities or threats in the marketplace to be identified and distribution plans and territory zoning optimized. The retail census provides the universe of retail outlets in areas so that representative samples for the conducting of retail audits and other surveys can be done. The value of retail census is it allows a company to identify the “right outlet, in the right place, at the right time and provide their products at the right price”. This strategic information allows companies to identify “where to play, how to win and how to keep winning”.

A case study of the retail census that was done in Kenya was presented. It allowed companies to optimize their coverage and route to market. They were also able to optimize the allocation of resources, classify and profile retail outlets, develop the sales capabilities and build a distribution network. To accomplish this many layers of information that can be accessed and analyzed. Other uses of the data include optimizing the frequency of delivery and stock, identifying credit and mobile money opportunities as well as defining and aligning company portfolios.

The power of maps is in the ability to visualize the data, such as the different layers of administrative boundaries covering an area. It also allows the attributes associated with retail outlets to be aggregated to these administrative layers. Using a combination of these layers, allows the optimization of distribution routes and sales territories, including the integration of direct, indirect (third party) and hybrid distribution streams.  The data can be analyzed to look at aspects relating to channels, sales, and volumes of retail outlets. This is possibly the greatest value of using the geospatial data. Geovisualization can also be used to monitor product delivery and sales as part of the route to market and tracking a company's return on investment.

Companies often lose their line of sight in African countries but with access to retail census data, it allows them to optimize so many aspects of their business, including their route to market from outlets, as well as managing their supply, demand and logistics aspects of their business. AfricaScope in partnership with Frontline Market Research provides access to this invaluable information through web mapping technologies that are easy to use and affordable. If you need to own this information for integration into your internal company systems then this data can also be made available.

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