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How we are helping the future greening of New Zealand

A couple of statements by David J. LePoire drawn from his essay “Beyond (Conventional) Renewable Energy?” caught my eye this morning. He said that “If energy use had grown as fast as the economy, the United States would be using an estimated 60% more energy than it does now. We’ve improved energy use in buildings, electrical appliances, cars and industrial processes. These applications are often motivated by cost savings.” There are often stories about how companies who focus on sustainability in a concerted way will become more profitable as a result, but often there is little information on where the increased profitability will come from.

There has been a lot of discussion about how green New Zealand really is and which initiatives are going to help us go forward in the way I believe most Kiwis want toThe elections are close and the parties are all telling us what their policies are going to be.

Meanwhile there are many companies who are just working business as usual with an eye to a better future. GeoSmart is one of those companies. So what are we doing?

First, we have driven every road in New Zealand for many years, but in the last few years we have been driving with phenomenal technology put together in New Zealand by Kiwis, which allows us to map New Zealand roads to sub 1 metre accuracy even when there is GPS shadow or at times (not uncommon particularly in the South Island) where there is no GPS sugnal available at all for periods of time. Tests show that we tend to be accurate to around 15cm which is as good as I believe you can get without having surveyors and laser theodolites on the ground.

This in itself means that we are able to provide highly accurate data to users of our routing web services, such as AA Maps and mobile applications such as Rugby2GO. It means that people will not be sent up paper roads that don’t exist, confirms speed zones and intersection controls and other information that doesn’t always get provided to us by the authorities.

Quality routing means that people can get the best routing information to meet their needs. For example the shortest route is often not the fastest.

We also collect road inclinometer. That is the rate of incline on hills, of which we of course have many in New Zealand. Our car navigation clients are getting more involved in eco-routing which means you can choose the route which will consume the least fuel. That means that effectively, irrespective of what type of car you drive, you can save money while also helping to save our environment.

We are also collecting data about the camber or angle of the corners. Because of the volatile nature of our country with frequent earthquakes, floods and slips, geothermal activity, the condition of corners may change. When a corner changes and noone knows about it, this can be the cause of serious accidents, such as with large trucks and trailors who may be obeying the speed advisory signs, but the conditions have changed since they were set. We are working with sophisticated Fleet Management companies who are going to use this data, combined with their knowledge of their clients’ vehicle set ups, roll over specifications and load information to alert drivers that they may be going too fast for the conditions of the road. This can save insurance conmpanies millions of dollars, not to mention reducing the inconvenience of motorists having to deal with travel delays as the incidents are examined and detours put in place.

Another major area for us is real time traffic. You are probably aware that we built and maintain the AA Roadwatch website and and provide services including real time accident, incident and congestion data throughout New Zealand and Australia to major car navigation brands. AA Spokesperson Simon Lambourne was quoted in an article in the NZ Herald earlier this week that studies have shown that “when 10 per cent of drivers use real-time traffic information to avoid jams, journey times drop 5 per cent for everyone.” Find out more about AA Traffic by GeoSmart here.

Route optimisation is becoming more important. We have written a number of blogs on this topic and more and more companies are coming to us to use this service and variations of it. Essentially  if a person has a number of sites to stop at during a day’s work, our SaaS application Route2GO Lite geocodes and calculates the best order to make those visits in, to drive the least amount of time via the most efficient route. This results in increased productivity and reduced overheads. It is also sustainable. Are you able to tell your clients that your business uses technology to benefit the environment as well as the company’s bottom line and provide better service to boot?

Talk to us about how we can help you become more sustainable whilst increasing profit.

November 7, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, Auckland, Australia, Business Tools, car navigation, carbon footprint, driving directions, geosmart, gps, Mapping Applications, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, route optimisation, Route2GO, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, SaaS, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Socialisation – Loyalty Cards and Gamification

Ultimately if you want people to use your loyalty card, visit and spend lots of money enjoying your service, products and services, wouldn’t you rather they bring their friends and family, or encourage them to come and join them. There are gender differences here of course. Shopping for women is often a social activity, something to be enjoyed with friends and is an outing in itself. For guys that might be the case for specific things like food and beverage, electronics and sporting gear (I am generalising and there are of course exceptions:) but in general terms a fun group outing is more likely to be going to a bar, a sporting match etc. Of course hospitality, entertainment, attractions etc are all most enjoyed if done with friends.

Foursquare in its points structure will give you more points if you log into a location at the same time as your buddies. Tap City uses Foursquare Points of Interest and has a game element where you can take ownership of a location by attacking it and getting your buddies to join you in the attack, turning it into a real game, but one that requires that you do check in to places to complete certain activities.

FREE App Rugby2GO for Android and iPhone

Loyalty programs for single venues or large programs with many venues are all there to generate business for your destination premises. This opens up great opportunities for incentives. In many cases points and recognition are enough, but why not encourage people to not only participate but also to get their friends to sign up. For example, lets say we had a loyalty card for restaurants and entertainment. You could have a deal where if you bring a friend to a cafe, you get 2 points, or maybe a free muffin, but if your friend becomes a member of the loyalty program and joins you there, you get more. Its Rugby time in New Zealand with loads of tourists going to Fanzones and enjoying the restaurants, bars, concerts and shows that go with the World Cup. A lot of people have Smartphones and are enjoying FREE iPhone and Android applications like Rugby2GO which has all the Real New Zealand Festival locations on it complete with directions from wherever you happen to be.

These apps are great and are a perfect stepping point to creating social engagement. If they allow you to upload all of your friends from your various social networks in the way applications like Foursquare, Instagram, Layar, and countless others do, then you are already crowdsourcing for free. All you need to do now as an application host is encourage them not only to get their friends to your location using the gamification we have talked about in our other recent blogs, and then also get them to invite them to install the app and join, perhaps using a promo code that recognises that your friends have joined them and identified them as friends, which also of course helps with your profiling.

South Africa v Namibia

Profiling people into groups with similar interests is of course something that Google has introduced with its Google+ circles and we are starting to see this in applications. So if you own a bar or number of bars, are showing the Rugby on your big screens, wouldn’t you like to be able to encourage your loyalty program members to not only invite their friends, but have them sign up to the program, reward them for doing so, then give them a great time so they want to come back, with their friends. This is known as crowd sourcing and also plays a part in viral marketing.

As a footnote on viral marketing, a reminder that you do not do viral marketing, your customers, friends and program members do that. All you can do is facilitate it. Create an environment they want to be at and share and they will do it for you. Of course you have to deliver on your promise and make sure they really do enjoy themselves. There is so much more you can do once you get started and of course we are full of great ideas and desire to help you make it work for your loyalty program. Why not Contact Us and have a chat about it?

October 5, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, Android, foursquare, geosmart, iphone, location based services, Loyalty Card, Mobile maps, proximity based marketing, Rugby, Rugby World Cup, Social Media, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Adding Location To Loyalty Card Apps

There are obviously lots of different kinds of loyalty cards. I have somewhere between 10 and 20 cards ranging from Coffee Cards through to Airline Frequent Flyer Cards. I have so many I can’t carry them all in my wallet, which is unfortunate when I find myself in a position to use one. I do carry a Smartphone, so there are opportunities to carry apps. Many retail companies in New Zealand now have apps, mostly on iPhone and Android. They range from cafe’s and fast food companies to tourism and banks. Features include the ability to order food from a specific store, the ability to view the store on the map, make reservations and view points.

A lot of companies have had back on using Smartphone applications for loyalty programs on the basis that there are not enough people using them. At the last Social Media Club Auckland event one of the panel questions was what is the penetration of Smartphones in New Zealand. No one had an answer as the telco’s generally don’t want to share this competitive information. However in this month’s IT Brief there was a quote from Tony Baird of Vodafone saying that 66% of their mobile users now have Smartphones. That’s pretty high penetration and growing rapidly as is their data traffic which grew from 60TB in June last year to 135 TB in June this year. It would be reasonable to expect at least Telecom to be showing similar penetration.

So, in my last post I talked about a number of aspects of getting to know your customers. Given the statistics in the poll on my previous blog almost 70% of loyalty card holders do not specifically head to shop at a store where they have a loyalty card. In effect this says that the loyalty card in most cases is not attracting people to do business, or effectively be loyal to the retailer or group who invest a lot of time and money into the card systems in manufacture, distribution and all the other aspects of running a loyalty program.

What is missing? I believe that one aspect is not really understanding the customer. Let’s start simple. How do you get a loyalty card? Obviously it varies. Some cards like a coffee card are as simple as the retailer offering the card to a customer when they are in the store buying a coffee, the retailer invites them to start using a card, typically offering your 11th cup free. At the other end of the scale there are forms to fill out, which confidentially provides the company with significant information about the person. This may include:

  • Home address
  • Home and Mobile Phone numbers
  • Age
  • Household income
  • Interests
  • Family details e.g. single, married, children under or over a certain age
  • Occupation
  • Email address

In theory this enables the loyalty program to target information to the member and under strict Direct Marketing opt in guidelines, make offers to the members, which typically comes in the form of eDM’s and Direct Mail. The latter is a very expensive form of marketing as is normal advertising such as print, radio and TVC’s. For many industries and products this is tough business. How often do you buy a lawn mower, a TV or an iPhone? The marketing only works when you are open to buy. I recently purchased a new lawn mower, but it was the first one in over 10 years. If I had kept every lawn mower advertisement that arrived in my letter box trying to sell me one and looked at the creative, print and distribution costs, it might have been cheaper for them to give me a lawnmower. Of course all of this advertising is focussed on products that everyone is selling, there is very little focus on products that are unique. Everyone has a promotion on a printer, a TV, an iPhone which forces everyone to focus on price, heavy discounts and the consumer wins if they are looking for that product. Profits up the value chain are massively eroded through the competitive pricing and costs of marketing.

Data Mining and Business Intelligence are already used by some companies and very soon GeoSmart will be launching the much anticipated BIonaMAP we have discussed in many blogs in the past. This will allow companies to better understand their customers on the basis of the data provided, including the ability to view their customers and query their information in relation to the Department of Statistics mesh blocks and area units.

Canberra Income $100,000+

In this example we looked for   where the average household income in Canberra (yes we do Australia too) is equal to or greater than $100,000. If we were looking for loyalty members who had higher than average discretionary spending capability, this could be a very useful tool for target marketing. We could potentially make special offers by overlaying our loyalty card members in this SaaS (Software as a Service) application and then querying them from a combination of the information we have about them and the information the statistics department has about people in the area.

In the coming blogs I will get into more detail about what the implications are from the perspective of location, but like anything you need to start at the beginning and in many cases as I have outlined,  scatter gun marketing, throwing leaflets into letter boxes does not effectively target people who might change their behaviour in favour of your product or brand.

The key to loyalty is a relationship and this comes from engagement. You don’t engage well by putting something in someone’s letterbox. You engage by understanding who they are, what their needs are, when they are out and about and open to buy. As a retailer with a loyalty program you have huge amounts of information about your clients at your fingertips, which is untouched.

Here’s a simple example to finish this blog. Paper Plus not only supports Fly Buys, but they also have their own card called My Big Deal. They run promotions for people who use that card. Right now they have a sale on certain children’s books. If you buy the books using your loyalty card and they store that information, they now know (if they didn’t ask in their registration form) that you either have children or have a relationship with children, perhaps as a grandparent. So they know you buy children’s books. This is valuable information that you could take advantage of in your proximity based marketing application.

More on the location based aspect for apps is coming up, now that we have covered some basics. If this is of interest, please bookmark or subscribe. If you know of someone else who might be interested, why not send them a link? If you would like to discuss these concepts with us about your own business, please contact us.

September 20, 2011 Posted by | Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Business Tools, Data Mining, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, iphone, location based services, Loyalty Card, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Print Advertising, proximity based marketing, Radio Advertising, Retail, Retail Profit, SaaS, territory management | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Location is Going Places

Obviously we would love to be writing more blogs about how our clients and partners are writing location-based apps using GeoSmart Maps API’s and Web Services and how we are helping the discover new ways to use location for proximity based marketing, location-based games (read future proximity based marketing), location-based education and  much more.The good news is that there are many new projects happening and more announcements to come next week from our camp.

There are companies who automatically go to global map providers because they perceive there is no difference and maps are pretty much all the same. To those people I say, go and have a look at the new Upper Harbour Motorway on AA Maps (one of our clients) using GeoSmart Maps and then check any other map provider on the web or on a mobile application. It’s only one of many locations we update as they happen because we are local and we care about providing the best data to our clients and to New Zealand motorists, but it is pretty major if you travel between west and north Auckland.

So this blog is for those of you who are wanting to develop applications using quality maps and location-based data, because we want to keep you informed and share great ideas with you and help you achieve your goals, whatever your business models and budgets may be.

One of the areas that I think is huge is proximity based marketing. If you are running loyalty programs, you really need to think about what you are doing. If they are working well, then we say they could be working much better, if they are not performing the way you would like, you should talk to us about how we can help, because location is our bread and butter.

As we have discussed before, the marriage of social media and location is really going places. I’d like to mention a couple of recent developments relevant to the many blogs here.

Foursquare

Now obviously Foursquare is global and needs more than the excellent New Zealand and Australian Maps we provide, but they are really showing the way to develop successful check in software. Want to know more about check ins and Foursquare have a look at more of the blogs on this site.

One of the things that people have been asking about is how to push a message to people based on their proximity. In effect, rather than have people open up Foursquare and look for deals and promotions near you, what people have been asking me about almost daily is how do we push an alert to people, rather than have them stumble on opportunities.

Now Foursquare has their own very popular application and I hope to hear that their latest announcement appears on their own application as well as the API’s they offer to developers. The Foursquare global hackathon starts tomorrow and it has een whispered on many sites around the world that one of the new features to be launched there is a Push API.

What does this mean? Well effectively it is an opportunity for developers to look at ways to send push messages to people using their applications using the Foursquare API’s. During the hackathon there will be competitions to see who can come up with the best applications using this functionality over the week. It could be almost anything and I’m hoping that this will provide our local New Zealand developers with ideas as to what they can do using these concepts. A few ideas being floated include:

  • Your mobile shopping list reminds you that you haven’t bought the milk and you are passing your local grocery store.
  • You are at a bar or restaurant and your app tells you that you have friends nearby. You can notify them where you are and get them to join you.
  • Your restaurant has empty seats and you have loyalty customers nearby, send them an invitation with tonight’s specials
  • Your loyalty card has double points today and you are about to pass your favourite Petrol Station, DIY, Clothing, Consumer Electronics store

Obviously we have much cooler ideas in our treasure chest to share with our clients, but you get the idea I hope. This is one of the missing links and is going to turn the concept of check-ins on its ear in my humble opinion. Now you don’t need to use Foursquare for this, although I’m not saying you shouldn’t. Personally I’d like to see these sorts of things being developed and proven locally in the way good Kiwi entrepreneurs do, with support from GeoSmart and then shipped overseas generating export revenues.

We have clever and passionate people here and sometimes it frustrates me that companies developing applications around locality instantly go to American or other map providers who aren’t passionate about New Zealand aren’t keeping their maps up to date and don’t have local resources to help. OK, I’m off my soap box people.

September 15, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, channel partner, Check Ins, competition, competitions, foursquare, geosmart, gps, ICT, Indoor Navigation, iphone, lbs, lbs games, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, proximity based marketing, Social Media, social networking, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

GPS Car Navigation for Rugby Tourists to New Zealand with Global iPhone and iPad First

There’s a world championship event going on in New Zealand right now with rugby teams competing for a major cup. Many of the tourists who have arrived in New Zealand or are coming over for the rugby matches have iPhones and or iPads. They may be staying in Auckland or the region the national team they are supporting is based and don’t want to buy a complete car navigation device or a map set for the whole country when they are only staying for days or weeks.

The thing with the iPhone or iPad is that it is one of those ubiquitous devices that you keep on your person and navigation isn’t necessarily just about being a driver. It might be about being confident that the way the taxi is taking you is the quickest, or how do I get to the Fan Zone or Rugby Stadium or perhaps one of the REAL NZ Festival events.

MetroView Systems Pty Limited from Australia has come up with an excellent solution using GeoSmart car navigation maps and Points of Interest data, called MetroView NZ City. Because they are a local (Australasian) company, they are nimble and were able to come up with a product well suited for the rugby tourist, or in fact any tourist visiting New Zealand. Of course there are many Kiwis who don’t need all of New Zealand either, but a real key opportunity is that if you are only coming over for days or weeks. NZ$9.95 for true GPS car navigation on a device you already own is great value. That’s less than the price of 3 cups of coffee!

The application, which you can buy from the Apple Appstore has all the Points of Interest a rugby fan is looking for, but lots of great features around the iPhone and iPad as well. For example you can listen to and control your music and podcasts right from within the application using the iPad/iPhone button. If you have appointments (with an address)  in your mobile’s calendar, you can navigate directly to them, the same applies to your contacts list. Your music will automatically mute if there is a navigation instruction.

It is likely that the concept of buying maps for a single city will become more common in other countries but you saw it here first in New Zealand with GeoSmart data and MetroView software. Of course it isn’t just about the rugby, it is full car navigation with the features you are used to using. If you are planning a visit to New Zealand and want to find your way around on your iPhone or iPad, check out this product. I think you’ll find it very useful.

And all the best to your team, I hope they do really well, maybe even second if you’re not supporting the All Blacks;p

Metroview NZ City

September 14, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Australia, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, iphone, location based services, map tools, maps, Mobile maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, Rugby, satnav, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Consumers are Checking In to Retail Stores

In my previous blog I pointed out that that retailers were not adopting strategies for check in location based marketing. In the blog prior to that I quoted Comstat research that shows that in the first 3 months of this year 16.7 million people check into locations using Foursquare and similar applications, representing 7.1% of the total mobile population. I don’t know what the statistics are for New Zealand, but I suspect the numbers are somewhere between 5 and 7% of the NZ mobile user population.

Comstat also came up with some interesting statistics about the demographics of those users.

Firstly a lot of people think this is technology for men, that they are the geeks, but of course women love to shop, they are social shoppers and as the graph shows, there are in fact more women than men checking in!

The predominant age group should be no surprise, we would expect 18-44 year olds to be the most tech savvy and of course having disposable income for Smartphones which are the predominant mobile used for check ins. Again from Comstat for the first 3 months of this year in the USA Android pipped Apple at 36.6% to 33.7$ of devices used for checking in.

The largest group of users were in full time employment 46.6% and the second largest at 23.3% were full time students.

Just as a footnote to my blog on Group Deals and Bricks and Mortar Business there was an interesting story in eMarketer a couple of days ago. The story contained statistics that from research by Cooper Murphy Copywriters in July this year, 82% of Groupon users expressed dissatisfaction with the level of repeat business they generated from their campaigns and 49% would not use them again. This is interesting when many companies use daily deal type promotions to introduce new customers to their stores.

Of course you know where I am going with this series and that is that Location or Proximity Based Marketing offers far more compelling tools for retailers and other destination businesses to entice people into their premises. Obviously a fundamental component of that is not just how to get them to come to you, but how to get them there when you want them and to have them purchase or consume products or services that achieve your goals. For a retailer that might be those same products you were quitting on a daily deal, but like the Auckland superette owner who has been selling milk at 10 cents below cost as a loss leader, part of the strategy behind that is the opportunity to merchandise other products those same people will buy with a healthy profit margin. If you have an aged stock problem, location based marketing can get people into your store and while they enjoy the low price of your distressed inventory, put something at eye level in from of them that increases the profit of your sale. Cherry pickers do not make you profit.

Likewise if you have a cafe or restaurant, don’t just offer a free coffee with $5 worth of food. Offer it only at times when your business is empty and not to the people who were coming in anyway, they are dealt with using your normal loyalty program. Of course loyalty marketing is also very important and fits into location, but you’re going to have to come back to a future blog for that.

Thanks for reading our blog. If you think this is of interest to people you know, please tell them about it or send them a link. You can also subscribe using the RSS feed.

August 11, 2011 Posted by | Android, Auckland, Business Intelligence, Check Ins, competition, Distribution, foursquare, iphone, lbs, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, Marketing, Mobile maps, new zealand, proximity based marketing, Retail, Retail Profit, ROI, Sales, software, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Group Deals and Bricks and Mortar Business

The number of one day deal sites in New Zealand grows every day. There are dozens of them and many of them now have a separate site for each region with deals for experiences, dining, accommodation, attractions and activities. This is great for bargain seekers, but doesn’t necessarily do a lot for bricks and mortar businesses.

There are scenarios where they have value, for example if a business has very large volumes of aged stock that they need to quit. It can also be useful for new businesses to make customers aware they exist. They also come at a price. The more powerful the site, the more they charge with fees being anything up to 40% of the sale of each item.

If you want to attract new customers to your bricks and mortar store, then obviously you want a coupon or something that needs to be taken to the store for redemption. Even if you are quitting aged stock, there may be advantages in getting people into your store in the hope that they will purchase other products while they are there. There are also benefits to both the customer and the retailer in not having the time, packaging  and distribution costs in delivering product to the buyer. More on this in future blogs, looking at check in applications as opposed to group deals.

A study by Rice University found that  32% of businesses surveyed who used Groupon for promotions said they were unprofitable and 40% said they would not do it again. A major issue cited in the research was cannibalising existing business. Mashable quoted a statistic that less than 20% of people who purchased deals where they had to go to a store to redeem them, returned subsequently to buy full priced product.

So the question which I will come to in upcoming blogs is how to get people into your store at quiet times and more often. I believe the answer is in locations based services such as check ins and proximity based marketing. I welcome your experience or opinion on this.

July 21, 2011 Posted by | Business Tools, Check Ins, Delivery, Distribution, lbs, location based services, proximity based marketing, Retail Profit, ROI, Uncategorized, university | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is the best Car Nav product for New Zealand

Every year or so the Consumer Institute does a test of car navigation products and produces their ranking based on a number of criteria. Almost always the top brands are the ones that use our GeoSmart Maps. In this case the top two products also featured AA Real Time Traffic which got a mention. We believe that in future this will become a standard requirement for all quality car navigation products. First, knowing where to go doesn’t help if the road in your path is obstructed or closed due to accidents or incidents. We have had many incidents throughout New Zealand  in the last couple of weeks which have caused major delays to motorists who weren’t fortunate to have car navigation with Real Time Traffic to warn them.  A recent TV3 News Story with a race including the use of a TomTom Go Live 1000 illustrated that Real Time Traffic can beat conventional routing norms.

AA Traffic Alerts on Car Nav

The latest comparison was no exception to the norm with the top 2 products being from Navman and TomTom, with Navman slightly ahead.

These tests are always subjective and we don’t get the opportunity to comment or assist in these tests. I would like to comment on a few items here.

Firstly these devices have become highly sophisticated and have a wide range of programming options that make it hard to fairly compare devices. Their algorithms are different and they have features that are difficult to compare directly, its a case of apples versus pears and the best unit in my opinion has to do with the functionality you desire rather than the brand.

There was mention on both brands where they were guided to a staff car park at an undisclosed airport. This makes it difficult to respond. We typically provide multiple locations to drive to at major airports, but without knowing what was entered or which airport, we can’t really comment. Several brands including Navman and TomTom use GeoSmart Maps which utilises the same Points of Interest data as used by the popular AA Maps website. This site shows over 40 locations that you can route to just at Wellington Airport, as provided by GeoSmart. Obviously they did make it to the airport and they are all pretty well signposted.

There was a comment with TomTom on the Go Live 1000 about the time it took to get a GPS fix. This is ironic because the TomTom Go Live has a SIM Card in it, and therefore has communications and one of the features of it called QuickGPSFix (TM) , is the ability to download the current GPS satellite locations which means that it is designed (if you use the features correctly) to provide very fast location of satellite positions, which is required for the device to function at its best. There was a comment that some of the devices were placed in awkward positions on the windscreen. This is important because in addition to placing the device where it can be easily seen by the driver, it is also important that the device has the best possible access to the sky in order for the antenna to communicate with the satellites in order to determine its position. Apples with apples should see devices being compared being placed in an identical location on the windscreen in the same type of vehicle.

There was a mention of a product on Trade Me which came with an illegal wall charger and adaptor. There is a thriving trade of devices typically imported from China that have illegally hacked navigation software and illegal copies of car navigation maps. One of these uses GeoSmart data that is already several years old and whilst the software is good, it is also old an not licensed. Whilst these may look like a good value purchase, the software and maps are effectively stolen goods and this is frequently raised with Trade Me. If you buy product that is new, it should be factory sealed and have a serial number. If it is used or not one of the major brands, ask for a copy of the original bill or receipt.

I’ll leave you with 4 points:

1. Understand what functionality you are looking for before you buy a nav device. Read the details on the packaging or read information on company web sites and review sites. Often retail sales people just read off the box themselves. Ask them if they have personally used the devices or attended Product Knowledge  training by the manufacturer.

2. Real Time Traffic. Have you ever been stuck in traffic? Would you have liked the opportunity to be informed and had options before you started driving, or even during the trip so that you could get where you want to go?

3. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is.

4. Today’s nav devices have very good help screens and tutorials. It is worth spending a little time to learn about what it can do when you first purchase your device because a lot of the ‘problems’ are really lack of user knowledge rather than a failure of the device. Today’s top brands have very highly sophisticated features that may be missed by the owners.

May 10, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, AA Traffic, car navigation, driving directions, geosmart, gps, navman, new zealand, new zealand maps, real time traffic, satnav, tomtom, Traffic, Uncategorized, Web Map | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cartography and Maps for Your Advertising Campaign

As a mapping company we do all sorts of work, and if you are in New Zealand you probably have a printed map that we created at home or in your car. We produce printed maps for the NZ Automobile Association, for Wises, for Yellow, for the NZ Motorhome and Caravan Association and many more. We produce map books, sheet maps, travel atlas, advertising directories  and lots more.

Another area of our business is custom map creation. We have a huge database of information about New Zealand (and other countries including Australia) and frequently produce either digital map data or printed map data on our plotters on demand. We often produce map data for use on web sites, printed advertising, flyers, posters, Point of Sale and so on. We can produce data in most formats, optimised to the size desired.

There is a catch and that is that we have peak times and times when we struggle to deal with any additional work, such as when new annual map books, tourist guides, tourist maps etc are scheduled, so to avoid disappointment, it does pay to get in early. Our peak season starts around June, so if you need maps for a current promotion, now is a good time to talk to us about it.

So if you need anything to do with maps and map data for your next campaign, event, publication, conference, advertisement, contact us now. We’d love to help.

NZ Travel Atlas

February 7, 2011 Posted by | AA Maps, Agencies, Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, cartography, geosmart, map tools, maps, new zealand, new zealand maps, Print Advertising, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Analysing Car Sales Using Web Map Part 2

Last week I blogged about analysing your car sales (picking an industry at random) from a dealership on a map. I looked at comparing sales between reps by looking at where the clients lived on a map.

The concept is that we have a rich amount of data about our customers, especially when it is large ticket items and their are warranty and other ongoing commitments, not to mention the desire for repeat business. I used examples such as gender, personal or business use, age group, whether there was a trade in and so on. There is of course a lot more information available and there are also of course KPI’s. Please note that in order to do the things I’m talking about, you do not need expensive GIS software or specialist engineers. You already have the people you need, although in some cases an external consultant may help you see things from a fresh perspective.

Selling high ticket items like cars, real estate, quality furniture and furnishings is a tough business, especially in New Zealand and Australia. It’s competitive and the industries also have high staff turnover meaning that personal relationships are likely to be lost. This means that business intelligence and the ability to data mine becomes a lot more important. But at the risk of playing a broken record, finding useful information from your CRM or accounting software other than basic information is difficult. Now most companies in these industries have done business a certain way for many years and often the sales people go from one company to the next, staying in the industry and reinforce the concepts that this is the way the industry does it and we know the industry.

Our focus takes a different tack. These industries have leaders who swim against the current and use whatever technology or new ideas they can find. Are the over achievers or sales champions working harder? I would argue that most of them are working smarter rather than harder. The difference is that they look for ways to work smarter, whereas the other 95% plus use what they are given. The fact that you are reading this blog puts you in the top 10%. I’ve been told that in the industries I’m writing about here, the Pareto Principle is actually way out. They say that the best business is actually done by less than 5% of the sales people.

So what can you do as a company to improve your odds? How about trying something different? Let us help you find the low hanging fruit that has been eluding you. Lets use some business intelligence and move on. Now ideally what I am talking about would start at Head Office with the Sales Manager, Marketing Manager, Financial Controller or perhaps all of the above. Who is motivated to increase your profitability and productivity? How can you make it easy for your branches or dealerships to improve their performance?

In the last blog we talked about measuring performance at the dealership level, by the dealership. I’ve been in those offices and seen sales people going through the accounting system looking for people or companies whose leases are about to expire, or who last made a purchase 3-5 years ago and making prospecting phone calls. I’ve seen them cold calling using Yellow Pages or other directories. I’ve attended some of the sales meetings as a guest and seen the white board which shows the branch budget by model, the sales to date for the month and the stressed looks on the faces of all involved whose income and livelihood depend on achieving those targets. It’s very seat of the pants and very reactive.

Imagine if at head office, you could provide the dealerships with business intelligence that increased branch sales nationally. If you could give them information that allowed them to increase productivity and profitability and at the same time increase your brand market share. Wouldn’t it be nice to achieve the KPI’s you or the manufacturers are setting? Selling the cars (or whatever your product is) that have the higher margins, or perhaps more accessories which carry that extra margin.

How? I’m sorry but I’m going to tease you here. Have a look through the previous blogs here because a lot of the information I have to share works across multiple industries. Bookmark this page because I am going to write Part 3 of Analysing Car Sales Using Web Map some time in the next few days and give you some specific examples. Where are your potential low hanging fruit? Do you want to pick them? Jump on the school bus and drive through the opposition.

Drive through the opposition

Of course you can also contact us and discuss how we can help you or ask for a demonstration. You can also email me directly. We would also like to hear from business and franchise consultants looking to add tools to their toolbox.

Also please feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions here on the blog, we welcome your feedback.

January 26, 2011 Posted by | Auckland, Australia, Australia Maps, Business Analytics, Business Intelligence, Car Sales, competition, Data Mining, Distribution, geosmart, GIS, location based services, map tools, Mapping Applications, maps, Marketing, new zealand, new zealand maps, Real Estate, ROI, SaaS, sales territory, software, territory management, Uncategorized, Web Map, web maps | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment