Frequently Asked Questions

About SiteSeer

Software & Technology

Data

Models & Analytics


About SiteSeer

Who in my organization is SiteSeer for?

Most organizations have implemented or are in the process of implementing some form of Business Intelligence (BI) system to make company data resources available to decision-makers.  SiteSeer was designed to augment these internal data resources with a the external factors that influence the business – consumer behavior, competitive intelligence, market factors and more.  SiteSeer brings all areas of the company together and ensures each department is operating from a single source of truth. SiteSeer is most often used by real estate and store planning teams to find the best sites and plan for expansion; by marketing teams to analyze customer attitudes and usage and optimize advertising campaigns; by HR teams to align staffing to the neighborhood; and by merchandising and ops teams to ensure products and services meet the needs of the marketplace.

How is SiteSeer different from the competition?

SiteSeer was built by retail analysts. Why does that matter? It is reported that 70-80% of business intelligence initiatives fail. These failures often stem from a poor user experience and results that decision-makers don’t trust. If the organization doesn’t adopt the system because employees and management don’t understand it, haven’t been properly educated, or simply don’t believe the answers, it is dead in the water.

When you talk to our sales people, client success managers, or software and solution design team, it is apparent that we understand real world market intelligence. Most of us have worked in analyst and management roles at major retailers and have implemented successful research program and systems initiatives. We have unmatched experience in the industry but are small enough to have hands-on relationships with our clients and help them succeed.

This background is built into our product, SiteSeer Professional. Every feature that goes into SiteSeer must be easy enough for the user and provide the answers that decision-makers and stakeholders require. We listen to our clients and aren’t afraid to evolve as best practices change, innovate with the latest technology and data science, and create custom solutions for those that want a specific approach.

I am a small chain or startup, can SiteSeer help me?

Most small companies that come to us fall into one of two categories. One, the companies that wait until they’ve made several missteps before reaching out for help. Two, the companies that come to us after one of the big firms sold them a one-size-fits-all solution that didn’t fit at all. The reality is that the best solution available to your company is different for the startup with 5 locations, the emerging franchisor with 50 and the established corporation with 500.

The good news is that there is much you can be doing now – from understanding your core consumer, to locate where they live, work and shop; providing your real estate team and brokers with the tools to find and evaluate sites; optimizing your franchise territory plan to ensure you aren’t leaving dollars on the table; and creating an effective advertising plan to grow sales for the locations you currently operate. SiteSeer can help you implement a market strategy that is right for you today, and evolves with you as you grow.

Is SiteSeer only for real estate/site selection?

While SiteSeer is most often used by retail real estate, store planning, and brokers, SiteSeer can help anyone that wishes to better understand their stores, customers and markets to make better business decisions.  Marketing teams optimize their advertising campaigns and loyalty programs; human resources departments are able to visualize customer demographics and psychographics to improve hiring; merchandising and operations ensure products are aligned with the needs of the marketplace; and IT can provide BI or augment their current program, and ensure that the organization is operating from a common data standard.

I’m a broker/developer/tenant rep. How can SiteSeer help me?

SiteSeer helps brokers and developers assess opportunities and find and attract the right tenants with Void Analysis. Void Analysis goes beyond who-is-not-in-my-trade area, using analytics to score and rank tenants based on their match for the area, frequency of locating in your shopping center type and with your current cotenants, and more.

Void Analysis is helpful for evaluating sites and shopping center vacancies, but how do you identify opportunities in the first place? Use SiteSeer’s Model Builder to define the desired profile of your build to suit or tenant rep client. Apply your “hot spot” profile across your markets to visualize the areas of opportunity and focus your efforts on the best sites.


Software & Technology

What is Software as a Service (SaaS)?

Software as a Service (SaaS) is a method of distributing software, where the provider (SiteSeer) hosts the software on a secure remote/cloud servers and users access the software over the internet via a web browser. Rather than license software and install it on a local computer or mobile device, users subscribe to the service and the provider maintains the software, installs updates and manages data. Besides not requiring IT or users to manage licenses and always being up-to-date, SaaS can also make data more cost effective to license and more secure and often has superior support over desktop software – in many case identifying and solving problems before the user is aware of them.

Is SaaS / Cloud software safe?

Software as a service (SaaS) solutions like SiteSeer Professional have become popular due to the fact that the software can be managed centrally and kept up to date, rather than relying on users to load software and data and the issues that arise from doing so.  Due to the fact that SaaS solutions are hosted remotely and delivered via a web browser, some users feel that it less secure.  The reality is, no data is 100% safe.  Even the U.S. government clandestine agencies have had data breaches and could do little when laptops when missing and staff emailed sensitive documents to persons outside the agency. 

SaaS can seem scary because you are giving up control of your data.  The truth is, when you choose SaaS you are putting superior security and controls in place to protect your data assets.  Today, an estimated 94% of corporations use SaaS and much has been done to ensure data remains secure. Like other SaaS solutions, SiteSeer is hosted at top U.S. data centers with controls and protocols in place that meet ISO/IEC regulatory and compliance standards, and are monitored and tested for threats. SiteSeer is serious about data security.  We are also happy to provide you with our company security policy upon request.

How does SiteSeer differ from my desktop GIS (mapping) software?

Desktop GIS (mapping) has been around for several decades and is a great tool in the analyst’s toolbox. In the right hands, these tools can make beautiful maps, complete complex analyses and can even be customized to be an effective site selection and market intelligence system. The key here is “in the right hands” as even the easiest of these systems has a learning curve and requires extensive customization to do tasks that SiteSeer does out of the box. Thus, desktop GIS is usually run by a highly technical analyst or used for simpler tasks like creating maps.

By contrast, SiteSeer was designed to be used by both analysts and the casual user with little learning curve. SiteSeer is software as a service (SaaS) which means no installation, data that is always up-to-date, and no IT required – simply login from your web browser and go to work. Most users can be competent with SiteSeer the first day they use it. Users across your organization can easily analyze their data and make forecasts, create push-button reports and share their work with colleagues. Please read our blog SaaS vs Desktop, 5 tips for choosing the best site selection software for more information.


Data

What datasets are available to me?

SiteSeer is data agnostic.  We are not a data company, do not own a stake in any data company and do not form exclusive data partnerships.  Our goal is to provide our clients with choices.  We do not sell you data you don’t need and you are welcome to use any data sources you own or license with SiteSeer, assuming you are in compliance with their terms of use and ours.  That isn’t to say that we won’t recommend data sources.  We have partnered with both high quality and cost effective data providers to allow our users to hit the ground running with the data needed to make accurate and effective decisions.

How often is data in the system updated?

The update schedule for each dataset is different based on the release schedule of the data provider and the cost/benefit of more frequent updates versus less frequent updates.  For your own internal data and data you license directly from the provider, you can update it as often as you like. For sources provided by our data partners, some are connected via web services, which means that you are always viewing the latest data from the provider. Most third party sources, such as demographics, lifestyle data, and consumer spending are updated twice per year, while other sources are refreshed annually.  For more specific information about a particular data source, please contact SiteSeer via the Contact link at the top of the page.

Can I add my own data source?

Absolutely.  Each project begins with an onboarding process that includes working with you to define the initial data sources you want in the system, how you want them to look, who they are available to, and more. These typically include your stores and planned stores, customers, competition and business data.  SiteSeer will facilitate regular updates to these layers based on the schedule that is right for you.

You can also add and change data sources as you wish.  SiteSeer Professional has tools for importing address lists into sites, a data source import that allows you or bring in data sources as you need them, and SiteSeer’s professional services team can help you with more complex needs, such as integrating third party data sources that you license directly from the provider, converting data from your previous system/GIS software, or connecting to data sources via web services/API.

Can others see my data?

Data security and your right to privacy and confidentiality is our highest concern. Your company’s data is always kept secure and separate from other companies’ data. The only persons that can see your data are the users you have authorized to have access to the system*.  SiteSeer is role-based, so you can further limit what users see. For example, you might wish to keep your brokers from seeing confidential data and executives from seeing too much detail. As you import new data sources you can choose to make them for your eyes only or shared with the organization. 

*SiteSeer has no control over how output from the system is shared by users.  We highly recommend that if your reports, maps, and/or models contain information you do not wish to share, that you bind all users of the system to your own non-disclosure agreement.  Per our terms of service, system administrators can access user data to ensure compliance, if required by law, and as required to help authorized users with onboarding, professional services projects and support requests.  

Why is good data important?

When the difference between a good decision and a poor decision is measured in thousands or even millions of dollars, you want to ensure you aren’t basing that decision on faulty assumptions. Investing in data that comes from high quality sources, is precise and is updated frequently will give you the highest chance of avoiding costly mistakes.

For your company’s internal data, this means investing time in collecting, compiling and cleaning data. Creating new datasets by measuring store operations, evaluating your existing store’s site characteristics, creating a competitive intelligence program and surveying customers can pay big dividends. Licensing market data sources can be the most expensive part of any market intelligence program and is the one area where most companies cut corners.

For some maps and analyses, free government data sources and the data that comes packaged with your desktop GIS software might be good enough, but are risky for major business decisions. Where the best sources might update data every year or even every quarter, the low cost sources are often several years out of date, or worse, based on data from the last Census and trends are used to estimate today’s consumer demographics and behavior. Areas can change rapidly, new competitors open, consumer lifestyles and spending patterns change as families with children become empty nesters and retirees, and an area that was recently a patch of dirt is now a thriving suburban neighborhood. Good data gives you the confidence to stand behind your decisions and often pays for itself tenfold in higher sales and profits.


Models & Analytics

Do I need customer data?

SiteSeer Professional users run the gamut from those with extensive loyalty card databases, social media programs, and customer surveys to those that have no data about their customers.  More data is always preferred to less data, but customer data is not a prerequisite to use SiteSeer Professional or implement models or analytics.

Much can be learned about your customers using third party data sources applied to your trade areas.  Mobile phone activity data can show you where shoppers that visit your shopping center live, work and travel.  Demographics, lifestyle and spending data can often be used to develop a reliable customer profile or segmentation profile without having actual customer addresses.  We provide market research services to help you survey your customers in-store or online using panel data to understand behavior, usage, and opinions or mine store transaction, membership, or other data you own that could be a wealth of information about your customers.

How accurate are your models?

The accuracy of a model is dependent on several factors – particularly, the size of the training set (how many open/mature stores you have), the industry you are in, and availability of quality data.  Chains with many open locations will have more modeling choices available to them, and in most cases the models will be less prone to error.  Some concepts are also tougher to model than others.  Convenience concepts with repeatable behavior (grocery and drug stores for instance) often have lower error than destination concepts with infrequent repeat purchases (like hotels and furniture stores).  Quality data is also necessary for accurate modeling.  How well one is able to evaluate customer behavior, competitive intelligence and market factors will affect model accuracy.  Due to these differences, there is no one-size-fits-all model and no benchmark of accuracy that is realistic for all companies.  Our approach is to work with our clients to assess their goals and design an approach that is as accurate and reliable as possible given the company’s unique attributes, capabilities and budget.

Can your models be deployed in other software?

Yes and no. Most model types rely on SiteSeer Professional’s location decision engine to perform the necessary calculations and return results, forecasts, and reports. Thus, building a “model” is more than just determining a formula. It requires the right software functionality to run it. Unfortunately, we are unable to build these components for you. However, we can set up web services / API to allow you to deploy SiteSeer models inside of your application. Your users would complete their analyses inside of your application and when the user required a run of the model, the application would pass the necessary information to SiteSeer, and SiteSeer would perform any necessary calculation and pass back the results to the application.

Can I build my own models?

With the SiteSeer Site Selection expansion pack, you gain access to SiteSeer’s Model Builder. Model Builder currently allows you to easily create your own site selection scorecards, checklists, and hot spot themes to help you find the best sites.

Currently you have two choices for building your own sales forecasting models, sales cannibalization models or custom target marketing models. One, you can build your model in an Excel spreadsheet and deploy the model as a SiteSeer report; or two, you can provide SiteSeer with your model formulas, algorithms and/or workflow and SiteSeer’s professional services’ team can work with you to implement the model to your specifications. For more information about custom engagements and SiteSeer’s modeling services, see Professional Services.