Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Creating thematic maps with Sales Area Management Tool

As hinted in one of our earlier posts, Sales Area Management Tool (SAMT) can be used in many creative ways. In this article we demonstrate its use as a simple thematic mapper app.

Firstly, a brief overview of what thematic maps are and what they are used for.

Very often it is desirable to review the information available on hand in a summary format, for example to highlight the main patterns or trends otherwise buried in the details. One simple technique when dealing with spatially distributed phenomena is thematic mapping (or, as it is technically known, choropleth mapping). Wikipedia provides a comprehensive definition:

A choropleth map (from Greek χώρο ("area/region") + πλήθος ("multitude") is a thematic map in which areas are shaded or patterned in proportion to the measurement of the statistical variable being displayed on the map, such as population density or per-capita income.

The choropleth map provides an easy way to visualize how a measurement varies across a geographic area or it shows the level of variability within a region.

To create thematic map you will need:
  1. spatial data representing areas as polygons (e.g. postal areas or zip codes)
  2. attribute information about those polygons (e.g. Census statistics)
  3. mapping software to create a map (e.g. Sales Area Management Tool)
If you already have a summary dataset (e.g. information on family incomes from Census or similar source) which can be referenced to a specific boundary data (e.g. postal areas), it is only a matter of simple “copy and paste” to create thematic map with Sales Area Management Tool.

Example of thematic map created with Sales Area Management Tool 

In particular, you can create 4 different “territories”, each representing postcodes with attribute values belonging to a specific data range (e.g. quartiles of weekly family incomes). Just copy the list of postcodes for each data range from your spreadsheet to SAMT as comma separated values, then style the polygons in a given group, and it’s done! You have a thematic map that can be copied into your documents or printed for further perusals in a hardcopy format.

SAMT is a very handy tool for quick generation of thematic maps with public data like Census statistics, or with your own information derived from, for example, user surveys or sales statistics.

The above map is just an example to illustrate that even simple apps like SAMT can be used for a variety of tasks (i.e. can be "repurosed" in many creative ways). Low cost of such tools and ease of use means these apps offer a great value for money for the end user.

There are more advanced tools on MapDeck for creating thematic maps dynamically from large datasets.  We will describe them in detail in future posts.

Contact aus-emaps.com on info@aus-emaps.com to arrange a free trial of SAMT.

Related Posts:
Sales Area Management Tool 2015 Upgrade
Sales Area Management Tool makes tedious tasks easy - and fast!

Mapping territories for multi-category franchise 
15 complex tasks Sales Area Management Tool will make easy 

Friday, December 18, 2015

15 complex tasks Sales Area Management Tool will make easy

Sales Area Management Tool (SAMT) is very versatile in terms of possible applications.

At the core of SAMT functionality there is a very simple mapping widget that enables manual selection of polygons and compilation of those polygons into user defined groups. However, the overall capability of SAMT can be utilised in many creative ways.

One of many potential uses of the tool: defining delivery zones

SAMT is one of the first advanced productivity improvement tools released on MapDeck platform. We have unveiled the latest version about a month ago and since then we have promoted its virtues in several posts. Today we present an extended list of potential uses for SAMT: 
  1. defining sales areas, franchise or dealership territories based on common administrative boundaries, like postal areas/ zip codes or suburbs;
  2. generating images of individual territories for inclusion in contracts for sale of franchises or other reports;
  3. testing territory composition or rebalancing existing territories based on polygon attribute information, such as number of clients, potential market size or actual revenue form a given location;
  4. creating simple lists of postcodes/ zip codes, suburbs, etc. administrative areas that fall in X km radius from a given location;
  5. creating lists of polygons (e.g. suburbs) contained in a larger administrative area (e.g. Greater Sydney);
  6. defining catchment areas for retail operations bases on distance from the location;
  7. defining catchment areas based on the distribution of clients in the surrounding postcodes or suburbs;
  8. defining delivery zones based on the distance from a location;
  9. defining delivery zones for different days of the week;
  10. creating maps outlining work areas for market research staff  or charity donations collectors;
  11. creating simple thematic maps for documents and reports, (e.g. based on sales and revenue, or visitor statistics that can be matched to postcodes/ zip codes or suburbs);
  12. highlighting geographic extents of interest for regional organisations (e.g. based on LGA boundaries);
  13. recreating land planning zones based on Census mesh blocks and information from local authorities;
  14. visualising TV and radio broadcasting reach for local advertising campaign purposes;
  15. defining localities affected by natural disasters (like storms, bushfires, floods) and highlighting the severity levels;

When explaining benefits of a product it is always a good idea to present real life examples to illustrate how users are actually gaining advantage by utilising available functionality. However, we value privacy of our clients and will never disclose who is using various tools on MapDeck platform, and for what purposes, as this may reveal certain operational advantages to their competitors. Therefore, we will only present generic use cases when demonstrating where MapDeck tools and data could be potentially utilised.

Education of current and future MapDeck users about the benefits of location intelligence is an important part of our mission so everybody who registers on MapDeck is well informed how to make the most of what is available – with the least effort and at the lowest cost.

Contact aus-emaps.com on info@aus-emaps.com for access code to test SAMT with your use case scenario.

Related Posts:
Sales Area Management Tool 2015 Upgrade
Sales Area Management Tool makes tedious tasks easy - and fast!

Mapping territories for multi-category franchise 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Mapping territories for multi-category franchise

The majority of franchise brands focus only on a single line of business so, mapping territories of their operations is a straightforward task. However, there are operators, especially in the service industries, that offer franchises across multiple categories. 

Mapping territories for each category and keeping track of their status, for example from the initial expression of interest stage through to finalisation of the sale, is an order of magnitude more difficult. 

Sales Area Management Tool offers a simple solution to this problem. In particular, the functionality that enables recording different versions of territories in a single file, for example for modelling different composition or keeping track of extents  of territories as they evolve over time, can also be utilised for managing multi-category franchise operations. So, rather than naming individual territory sets as v1, v2, etc. they could be saved as “Service A”, “Service B”, etc.

Example of mapping multi-category franchise using trace-over layer functionality
SAMT allows displaying and editing only one territory set at a time. However, by utilising trace-over layer functionality, it is possible to display another set in the background. And switching between different territory sets is then only a matter of two mouse clicks.

The advantage of maintaining all the information in a single table is that it makes it easier to reconcile the information between all internal systems, like accounting, sales, marketing, and/or business intelligence.

Contact aus-emaps.com on info@aus-emaps.com for more information or a demonstration.

Related Posts:
Sales Area Management Tool 2015 Upgrade
Sales Area Management Tool makes tedious tasks easy - and fast!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sales Area Management Tool makes tedious tasks easy - and fast!

Marking franchise territories, sales areas or delivery zones can be quite a challenge if you are not using advanced GIS software.

This is especially the case if you have to factor in the distance (for example, from a local office or retail premises or your warehouse), or account for some local market characteristics (like potential market size), in order to balance workloads of your staff, or optimise for available resources or profit potential.

Sales Area Management Tool (SAMT) is a simple, inexpensive online mapping application, but packed with features that will make the job very easy. And fast! So you can focus on chasing business opportunities and not on tedious tasks of collecting hardcopy maps, then hand drawing territories and compiling information into spreadsheets, which could take weeks...

The following use cases highlight several advanced features of SAMT and demonstrate the power of this application as a business tool, indispensable for making informed decisions, with minimum effort. 

Use Case 1: Generating franchise territories with predefined number of prospects
A very convenient feature of SAMT is that it enables linking polygons with attribute information about those polygons. For example, with data from Census, like the number of persons or dwellings per postal area or zip code. Totals for individual territories are calculated automatically as polygons are selected so, it is easy to experiment with different compositions of polygons per territory.

Example of balanced territories defined with Sales Area Management Tool (variable: total population)
If you have good understanding of your target market and are able to define minimum size to sustain individual franchisees, you will be able to mark territories with high precision, optimising the total number available for sale. In other words, you will be able to maximise your profits.

Use Case 2: Defining sales areas of equal market size in key destinations
Another very convenient feature of SAMT is the ability to display a trace-over layer, in addition to the main geometry layer used for creation of sales territories.

For example, a dataset outlining extents of the largest cities could be displayed on the map as a trace-over layer to highlight locations to concentrate on. Polygons of suburbs overlapping with these reference locations could then be used to create a set of sales territories.

And if those polygons are attributed with market size information (e.g. population counts, as in the previous use case, or $ market size estimates based on Household Expenditure Survey data), it will be possible to create territories with equal potential.

Example of using trace-over layer when marking primary territories

Given current sales resources, organisations can maximise profit opportunities by focusing on the largest and the most accessible geographic markets. And having a fair estimate of the potential in each target area will help with setting reasonable expectations about anticipated revenue but also with managing workloads of sales staff and measuring their relative performance objectively.

Use Case 3: Marking delivery zones
“Select by circle” functionality of SAMT allows drawing on the map a circle with a defined radius form a predefined point. This functionality makes it easy to define delivery zones by selecting polygons within the specified distance from a location of interest. And since polygons selected and compiled into zones by smaller radius circles are not included in the circles with a bigger radius, it is a very easy to define secondary and subsequent delivery zones. 

A list of polygons included in the selection (i.e. defined delivery zones) can be downloaded in csv format and converted into look-up tables for sales staff to, for example, calculate appropriate delivery charges when filling orders from customers. 

Example of defining delivery zones from postcodes: 5km, 15km and 30km radius 

These three use cases demonstrate how simple, spatially enabled apps can help in day to day operations of business of any size. Why would anyone spend days, or sometimes weeks, and very often many thousands of dollars, trying to accomplish what can be done with SAMT in a matter of minutes?

Even very small, incremental improvements in efficiency of your operations, or a decision that allows better optimising profit opportunity, can make a huge difference over time - so you can reach your goals faster and shorten the path to success.

MapDeck is still in locked beta-test release phase but subscribers to stand-alone SAMT v1 app can take advantage of free access to MapDeck tools and data at no additional cost. Contact aus-emaps.com on info@aus-emaps.com for more information.

Related Posts:
Sales Area Management Tool 2015 Upgrade