Issue #02 | Article 02 / 04
Using tech to find high-performing retail opportunities
Leveraging technology to find the perfect retail locations for occupiers, owners and investors.
"Without a doubt, I can think of specific times where clients went with us based on our robust technology platform."
Ali Fieder, Vice President, Retail Sales & Leasing
Finding the perfect spot in a shopping centre or on a busy city street doesn’t necessarily happen by sheer luck. There’s a real science behind it.
Sophisticated real estate and market intelligence data exist to help strategize, prospect, negotiate, execute, and invest. For example, tools monitor traffic patterns in retail corridors or monitor how shoppers are moving through malls. This detail helps inform critical decisions around where owners and occupiers want to be located, and where the best available leasing rates can be found in different areas. Innovation and a data-first mindset are the foundation of Avison Young’s technology strategy, which is committed to providing a human, modern, and digestible experience through AVANT by Avison Young. AVANT houses information such as demographics, consumer spend, retail chains, transit and commute data, and foot traffic. Foot traffic is a particularly interesting area that Avison Young has been exploring. Exclusive data in the Retail Vitality Index uses cell phone mobility to measure visitor volumes for in-person shopping across big-box, local, online, retail corridor and shopping centre experiences. It also provides insights into foot traffic in last-mile distribution centres, a useful proxy for e-commerce.
"With the challenges associated with the pandemic, it’s been particularly important to delve deep into foot traffic activity and patterns to help pinpoint current and future retail locations that best position our clients for success."
Daniel Lee, Principal, Retail Sales & Leasing
“The Index uniquely positions us to track retail foot traffic in 23 North American markets, including here in Vancouver,” says Daniel Lee, Principal, Retail Sales & Leasing at Avison Young. “This real-time data has been a strong source of information to help our clients make informed real estate decisions in urban areas this past year. With the challenges associated with the pandemic, it’s been particularly important to delve deep into foot traffic activity and patterns to help pinpoint current and future retail locations that best position our clients for success.”
Real estate technology supports all different client types. For developers, cell phone pings can be assessed to understand traffic activity around a site, such as bridge crossings in and out of areas, as well as Light Rail Transit flow. For owners, landlords and occupiers, traffic activity technology helps make decisions on what, where and how to locate a retail property – and what types of tenants to target based on demographics in different geographic areas. Lease analytics tools also assess existing property portfolios to determine lease renewals, leasing rates and market comparisons.
Technology is more and more important to an agent’s or broker’s toolkit, with some relying on it nearly 50 per cent of the time on any given day, depending on a client’s requirements.
And, sometimes, technology is the difference between winning or losing a project. “Without a doubt, I can think of specific times where clients went with us based on our robust technology platform,” says Ali Fieder, Vice President, Retail Sales & Leasing at Avison Young. “We’re working with a food store expanding into Canada and they value our use of technology in establishing the market entry strategy and in identifying the best locations that build presence. By providing a layer of insight into existing real estate data and helping make better decisions for them, we are taking so much work off this client’s plate internally, so they can shift focus to other things.”
Offering sophisticated technology is one piece of the puzzle. What places a real estate advisor in a different playing field – or a cut above the rest – is the ability to bring technology together with consistent, accurate advisory services powered by people. This is especially true in instances where retail clients don’t have full in-house analytics teams, so they rely upon technology and market development teams to be integrated into their internal offerings. This ability to couple technology with human insight will be a gamechanger, says Thomas Forr, Director of Data, Analytics & Innovation for Canada at Avison Young.
“Technology will allow us to further build upon our advisory business – such as project management and lease consulting,” says Forr. “This ability to back up anecdotally what we know about the market with data makes the information a lot more powerful. Our clients can take this strategic counsel back to their stakeholders, whether that's an investment committee or a board of directors.”
With decades of experience, Avison Young’s team of professionals is uniquely positioned to work closely with clients on property conversions, supporting all life stages of a project from start to completion.
Our experts who contributed to this article
Explore Viewpoints #02 by Avison Young
Explore Viewpoints #02 by Avison Young
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