Dixons Carphone sharpens retail network planning with map data from Mapmechanics


Dixons Retail sharpens retail network planning with map data from Mapmechanics

Dixons Carphone (formerly Dixons Retail), the specialist international electrical retail group, reports that by switching to Mapmechanics as its primary supplier of digital map data for planning and analysis, it is achieving greater precision in evaluating store transformation projects and potential new store locations. Yet at the same time the company has saved on the cost of periodic map updates.

The data is used by Dixons for exercises such as calculating catchments and drive times around existing or potential store locations, and formulating strategy about where to alter or expand its store network portfolio, which includes the Currys and PC World brands.

Following the recent shake-out of the UK’s retail market, Dixons was particularly keen to ensure it did not miss opportunities to strengthen its network.

Ben Terry, location planning analyst says:

Whilst this is not a period when any retailer is planning major expansion, we are always interested in evaluating our network to ensure that we are maximising our profit potential.

Dixons Retail is a long-time user of MapInfo Professional, the digital mapping and geographic information system from Pitney-Bowes, but was interested in finding an alternative source of map data with more regular updates.

“Mapmechanics approached us in the first instance,” says Ben Terry, “and we were impressed by their proactive style.”

They went out of their way to put together a package of map data to suit our requirements.

Mapmechanics has supplied Dixons with a range of data products, including 1 to 1 million vector and raster data, which is ideal for strategic planning, and HERE map content: Premium streets (formerly NAVTEQ) for the UK and Ireland, which comes into its own in detailed drivetime calculations.

Along with the UK Streets data, Mapmechanics has supplied the HERE UK Drivetime network, which includes real-world road speeds calculated from many thousands of GPS tracking records. These speeds are attached to specific road links, creating highly accurate and localised speed estimates, with the potential to produce more precise modelling than data using more generalised speeds.

Ben Terry says.

We’ve noticed a definite improvement in the accuracy of our drivetime calculations since using the Mapmechanics data.

He adds that the Mapmechanics support team has been particularly helpful, verifying the results of Dixons’ analysis if required.

“They give the impression that they are ready and waiting with backup if it should be needed, which is a very refreshing attitude.”

Various additional data sets have been supplied to Dixons by Mapmechanics, including AMD postcode points data, which provides map references for the centre points of all UK unit postcodes. This data set is especially effective in geocoding applications (finding geographical locations from postcodes) because it includes not only current postcodes, but also historic postcodes dating back over the past ten years.

A further data set, HERE Pan-European Drivetime network, has been specifically customised by Mapmechanics for Dixons to work with an existing product, MapInfo Drivetime.

Ben Terry sums up:

Not only have we gained benefits in accuracy, frequency of updates and proactive support by working with Mapmechanics, we have also been able to reduce our annual renewal fees significantly.

Mary Short, Mapmechanics’ founder and director, comments: “Whilst we often supply and configure map data for use with software that we provide ourselves, we also frequently tailor our mapping products to suit other mainstream software applications. Dixons Retail represents an excellent example of how effectively this can work.”