MapMechanics supplies geographic information system, map data and development kit.
Peugeot has streamlined the way it plans its franchised UK dealer network, and helped its dealers target customers more precisely and analyse their performance more effectively, by introducing a geographic information system and map data from MapMechanics.
“The system makes it much easier for us to understand our market and make sure we're serving it as productively as we can,” says franchise network planning manager Andrew Bury, who adds: “It's brought a vast improvement in usability over the systems we were using before.”
Peugeot's network development department looks after a network of some 300 franchised sales outlets around the UK and a further 40 repair-only operations. “It's a constantly changing picture,” Andrew Bury says. “There are always opportunities to increase coverage in specific areas, or review markets in order to maximise sales opportunities.”
Peugeot has developed its own gravity modelling software to monitor the extent of its coverage, monitor dealer catchments and identify possible “holes” in the network. However, the company wanted more flexibility in the way it presented and analysed this data in relation to the potential market.
It also wanted to streamline the production of monthly sales reports for each dealer – a significant task in view the extent of the network – and give the results more visual impact.
MapMechanics has supplied Peugeot with GeoConcept Expert, the powerful PC-based geographic information system, plus NAVTEQ vector digital map data and ITIS road speeds. ITIS data applies typical real-world speeds to every segment of road, drawing on millions of readings gathered from GPS-tracked vehicles in daily use.
Armed with these resources, Peugeot is able to model drivetimes to each franchised outlet, and establish the attractiveness of each location. This information is then correlated with historical sales data and with the demographic profile of the area, drawn from Acorn demographic data. Other key factors such as the branding, visibility and accessibility of each outlet are also taken into account.
The result is a detailed picture of the franchise network in relation to past sales and market potential, which GeoConcept can present thematically on screen and in print by means of graphs, charts and similar devices. This helps the company to identify network over- or under-provision, to resolve overlaps between catchments, to plan new franchise locations and to target advertising and promotion on a local and national basis.
Automating the preparation of monthly sales reports for each franchise has seen a notable improvement with the new system. The company wanted to be able to create and distribute maps each month showing the catchment of each territory, overlaid with sales for that area; but this presented various challenges. For instance, since catchments vary widely in size, the system had to be intelligent enough to adopt different zoom levels for each map “on the fly”.
Peugeot has tackled the task by using a GeoConcept Visual Basic development kit to build a bespoke utility that automates the whole process. “This gives us a high level of control over the task,” Andrew Bury says. The program uses GeoConcept's ability to read live sales data in directly from an Oracle database – “something we've never been able to do before.” The reports themselves are produced with Business Objects software, which reads in the maps generated by GeoConcept. “The whole process just takes about an hour.”
GeoConcept is also used to monitor and evaluate competitors' sales, using data available within the motor industry to plot sales down to postcode sector level. Geographical sales patterns can also be identified by plotting retail customers at full postcode level. “In the past, many dealers have done this manually by entering their customers on to a wall chart,” Andrew Bury says. “The new system saves a lot of time and is much more accurate.”
He says these maps are given much more impact by GeoConcept's ability to display its fifteen main competitors' logos automatically against their sales locations. “It might seem a simple thing,” he says, “but it's surprising how helpful something like this can be in making the meaning of the display clear at a glance.”
“GeoConcept has proved much more intuitive than previous GIS software used by the company,” Andrew says, “and much easier to get to grips with.” Two staff members went on a MapMechanics induction course, which he describes as “very useful”, adding: “On the rare occasions when we've needed backup, the MapMechanics support line has been particularly effective.”