Retail and Fast-Food sectors driving growth for GapMaps in the UAE

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Brands monitoring pedestrian activity in post-COVID times to better understand and plan for physical locations 

Tim Shaw, GapMap’s Director, Market Planning

GapMaps, the Australian cloud-based mapping software specialist helping organisations with network strategies and location intelligence planning, continues to expand its international presence, which now extends to 21 countries including the UAE.

Despite COVID-19, the retail sector has adapted to new customer demand patterns and built new channels to market. In the UAE, GapMaps has seen strong growth in the fast-food delivery channel, which is creating demand for data and insights that enable retailers to better plan for and capture the potential of this growing market.

“Since 2018, we’ve been adding five new markets each year and double-digit revenue growth year-on-year,” says Anthony Villanti, GapMaps Managing Director and Founder. 

“This growth is due to the ease-of-use and sophistication of our mapping software, which uses the very latest demographic, government and industry data to help clients choose the right physical location specific to their business needs. 

“Today, we have approximately 500 brands using GapMaps in sectors where a physical location is required, such as fitness, fuel, grocery, quick service restaurant, shopping centres and convenience stores,” adds Villanti. 

Tim Shaw, GapMap’s Director, Market Planning, says, “Many of our Australian customers, especially the global brands, have encouraged us to enter new markets so they can use GapMaps overseas. This contributes to decisions on where we expanded the business.”

As the UAE emerges from COVID-19 restrictions GapMaps is observing and monitoring increases in pedestrian activity in central areas, shopping malls and other retail precincts. 

“What’s been interesting is the variability in the COVID-19 recovery process,” adds Shaw. “We expected to see variability between countries due to different lockdown restrictions and when those were loosened or removed. However, we see significant variation in the pace of recovery between large and small shopping malls and central precincts, an inconsistency observed across large urban centres when compared with smaller urban and regional centres. 

“The ability for brands to access these insights means they can more effectively manage their physical store networks through the recovery and plan for what’s increasingly looking like a ‘new normal’ in a post-pandemic world.” 

GapMap’s clients contributing to international growth include brands like Domino’s, KFC, Starbucks, Burger King, Subway and McDonalds. Eat’n’Go, the franchisee for Domino’s, Cold Stone and Pinkberry in Kenya and Nigeria, all benefitting from the data insights GapMaps provides.

“GapMaps has a unique ability to create high quality location intelligence data and insights in some very data-challenged countries,” says Pat McMichael, Group Managing Director and CEO, Eat’n’Go. 

“The quality of their data and simple to use platform has enabled me to introduce world class market and network planning processes to businesses where network planning had previously been quite rudimentary.” 

Growth Strategy

“Additionally, where GapMaps sees significant growth opportunity, we back ourselves and proactively enter a market and build a local client base,” adds Shaw. “This combination has proven to be a good growth strategy for the business.

“In the UAE, quick service restaurants are one of the fastest growing sectors. Early signs suggest that the UAE is recovering quickly from the effect of Covid-19 with population and tourist growth returning.  This is driving store development activity for international and regional brands alike.

Access to, and quality of, demographic data in some markets has traditionally been challenging, with a reliance on census data that can be more than a decade old. That data is often too broad and not appropriate for local catchment analysis to support a location decision. 

“With GapMaps we can analyse different local demographic, industry and government data to provide insights at a granular level, often drilling down to a 100 – 250 metre grid to pinpoint an optimum store catchment,” says Shaw. “That gives customers the same market planning processes and experience they use in Australia.”

Sector Expansion

“Aside from retail, GapMaps will expand into some of its other key sectors already supported in Australia like aged care, medical and health, as data in these international countries becomes more accessible,” adds Shaw. “For now, in the UAE, we’ll focus on retail and food delivery, which is where we can add immediate value to our clients.

“Although the pandemic has impacted retail categories like food and hospitality, it has created an environment where global and local brands are using the time to reset, rethink and reassess their network planning strategies and physical location decisions, in preparation for post-lockdown.”

A GapMaps Advisory team has also been established to support customers in all markets. This team, which is the same people who built the GapMaps platform, provide consulting services, in-depth data analysis and research to help clients with new insights, strategies, and business plans.

About GapMaps:

Founded in 2013, GapMaps is an Australian-built and owned company with global capabilities, empowering decision makers in multiple industry sectors refine their network strategies with location intelligence and demographics. Its dynamic products can be easily adapted for any market or industry and today is being effectively used by more than 500 brands in Australia, New Zealand, Asia, the Middle East and Africa to make location intelligence data easily obtainable for more accurate business decision-making.