Revolutionising Retail Data Analytics.
As the Founder and CEO of Pathzz, a leading analytics platform that provides up-to-date performance and customer characteristics of any location, Jason Sandiego is a bona-fide expert on retail data analytics. You can imagine how excited we were to speak with him for this issue, keep reading to find our interview below!
FuturePlace: How is it that you came to create Pathzz?
Jason Sandiego: I started in digital marketing and worked with lots of data sources to drive greater returns on digital ad campaigns. Naturally, the first business I created was an intelligence platform focused on digital advertising measurement and insights that help advertisers drive better results and understand more about their ad campaigns.
Through my interactions with retail brands and landlords, I noticed a gap in their ability to gather insights on physical locations from a single source of information. Back then, information on consumer behaviour and intelligence on a location was hard to come by and was sourced manually by research teams from different places to generate static reports or single purpose BI dashboards – this is in many ways still the case.
This process was and is not feasible for most retailers and landlords from a time, human resource, and cost perspective. They need information right away and need it at regular intervals in the future. Put simply, landlords need to understand which retailers and services will drive higher visitation to their centres/sites and, retailers need to understand the suitability of retail locations for their next store. From there more use cases came to light such as placemaking, marketing, customer experience, market research, logistics/supply chain, and so on.
When COVID hit, I realised that those operating in the commercial property sector will need
location and consumer insights more than ever before. Focusing on this market need, Pathzz was born with the mission of making intelligence on any location reliable, accessible, and valuable. I then invested in developing the platform over 8 months and launched with CBRE as our strategic partner offering these insights to their clients.
FP: I have to ask, why the two Z’s in the name?
JS: The name was the last thing I worked on; the product came first. The consideration was that Pathzz will take you on the right path, so I’m glad we are living up to expectations.
FP: How does machine learning and AI fit into Pathzz’s technology stack?
JS: We use AI and machine learning to train models on consumer behaviour and generate reports within seconds that would otherwise take a team of analysts weeks or even months. This is something we do in a market-leading way.
FP: Traditionally, real customer insights had been difficult to acquire in the commercial property sector, why was that the case?
JS: Before COVID, location and consumer intelligence was not the priority it is today. Changes to consumer behaviour and physical locations were slow and easier to measure or even intuit.
In the past, accessing information like what we offer would be very expensive and resource-heavy to produce. Also, other sources of consumer and location intelligence were costly, so the barriers to access it were high and not feasible for most businesses.
The post-COVID world presents different challenges in that it is characterised by a changing consumer and physical environment that is difficult to measure and forecast. Retailers and landlords (and many others) now need information on these changes regularly to guide strategic decision-making.
FP: CBRE made a strategic equity stake into Pathzz last year, what would you say was the key driver of the forming of that partnership?
JS: We are very proud to have CBRE as our strategic partner and investor. CBRE were our first client and strategic partner, which developed into them becoming an investor in 11 months. We wanted our investor to be strategic and as the market leader they have the greatest knowledge and share of the commercial property services market. We also wanted our partnership to be mutually beneficial, whereby CBRE can use Pathzz to enhance the services offered to their clients and Pathzz can benefit from guidance on product development that will ensure that we are always innovating in line with market needs as they emerge. We have natural synergies, and this partnership continues to grow fruitfully each day.
FP: How detailed should retail landlords get with their customer profiles? Is there such a thing as too much detail?
JS: Detail is good, but it is how they summarise this information and identify salient and material trends to enhance decision-making that will determine the success of any customer profiling exercises. I believe that understanding what questions they need to answer is where the process needs to start. Then they can build data driven reports to answer those questions, deploy insights and measure the impact.
FP: Is there an overlooked data set that retailers should really be looking into for their business decision-making?
JS: Consumer insights are often neglected due to the barriers to access them. For example, using Pathzz consumer location intelligence retailers can evaluate the visitation performance and consumer profiles of potential shopping centre locations for their next stores and enhance their location planning activities. This saves them from having to physically visit many potential sites and narrow the selection to the best few in minutes. They can even use it for lease negotiations; conversely landlords can do the same. Furthermore, understanding where their customers are coming from is key to determining how their marketing budgets at an individual store level need to be deployed. All of which is possible using consumer insights.
FP: From your vantage point, what changes are you seeing in commercial property decision-making?
JS: Since COVID, consumer behaviour trends are emerging and shifting daily, and the commercial property sector is at the forefront of this change. From how we work to how we spend our leisure, and the overall changes to how we live and experience the physical world, are meaningful and widespread. Commercial property businesses will help craft new and better experiences in the physical world to meet the rising needs and wants of consumers and they need the best information to do so. Data-driven decision-making is important for any landlord or retailer navigating this space which is characterised by constant and rapid change.
Malls of the Future Summit
Pathzz is proudly sponsoring the Malls of the Future Summit, taking place on 1st March 2023. It will explore the factors driving investment in innovative new-build and redeveloped shopping precincts that are going beyond the norm to offer a more personalised and sensory customer experience that creates reasons for local communities to visit, stay longer, feel connected and return time and time again.