How Can GIS Help Improve Your Business?

Updated on June 9, 2020
CWanamaker profile image

Chris has worked in a business leadership role for the past 10+ years. He likes to share his experiences with others to help them learn.

GIS technology helps you discover spatial relationships between many types of data.
GIS technology helps you discover spatial relationships between many types of data. | Source

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Business

A geographic information system (GIS) is a database that relates any kind of informational data to a geographic location. In a business setting, knowing the spatial relationships between you, your customers, and your suppliers can vastly improve your profit margins and advertising campaigns. GIS can even help you calculate more efficient delivery routes, locate new office or retail locations, and/or identify trends in your business’s growth or decline.

Did you know that Google Earth and Google Maps are simplified GIS Systems? Even these free services can be used to help improve your business.

Analyze Your Customers' Whereabouts and Buying Habits

Most businesses collect and store some sort of information from their customers. This could be anything from a name and phone number to an address or even their complete buying habits. I'm sure that you’ve used those store loyalty cards or completed customer surveys for a chance to win money before, haven’t you? What about giving out your phone number or zip code at the checkout counter?

Online retail businesses can easily collect the addresses of their customers by storing their shipping information and accounts in a database. Online retailers also have the advantage of being able to store a customer’s buying habits without the use of a shopper’s card simply by maintaining a database of orders.

For business owners and managers, a customer’s information is the most valuable information that you can obtain. After all, they are what keep your business afloat.

Geographic Distribution of Customers

Many businesses collect the addresses and buying habits of its customers through a shopper’s card. This information can be used to geographically represent the distribution of their customer base. This can help reveal a number of key items to the business executives.

For example, decision makers can identify gaps in their customer base and seek to close those gaps by adding new store locations or performing targeted advertising campaigns. They can also analyze shopping frequency with respect to distances from the store or adjust operating hours based on the temporal distributions of the store's shoppers.

Where is your potential revenue located?
Where is your potential revenue located? | Source

Buying Habits

Customer buying habits can also be spatially analyzed for various trends and anomalies. Decision makers can find out when particular items sell well and where the customers that purchase them live. This can help the business project future inventory needs and adjust product pricing.

For example, if you are a milk producer and know that a certain area of the city bought significantly more milk than another area, you may be able to discern what types of people live there and what their needs are. You could then make decisions about where to distribute your milk to and perhaps how to set your prices. You may decide to adjust milk prices for stores in the vicinity of that part of the City to capitalize on the increased demand.

Cultural Buying Trends

Another example of the value of spatial data is the analysis of cultural buying trends. Let’s say that you get output from a GIS analysis that shows that a particular area of the city buys significantly more Hispanic food items than any other part of the city. Business owners can then make informed decisions about what other types of food items they should be selling at the stores located in that part of the city.

This decision can be made without ever asking the customer for what other items they would like to see in the store. Additionally, this information can also be used to estimate the future demand of various types of holiday and culturally significant merchandise.

Delivery Route Optimization

Delivery routes can also be optimized using GIS. The system can analyze the road network of a city and determine the most efficient route based on distances, speed limits, left turn locations, and even traffic signal locations and timing. Advanced delivery routing software can even compute the most efficient path for multiple deliveries over a specific period of time. Therefore, the schedule of deliveries can also be optimized.

Do your employees know the path to saving you money?
Do your employees know the path to saving you money? | Source

Improving Delivery Efficiency

An example where this technology would be useful is at a restaurant that makes regular deliveries to various locations, such as a pizza place. A pizza restaurant can use GIS software to optimize their deliveries at any given moment in time. This will prevent excessive travel, back tracking, and ensure that the pizzas get delivered in a manner that is both efficient for the business and satisfactory for the customers. GIS becomes more important and effective at improving your delivery efficiency as your business grows in size.

Optimization En Route

The future of this technology will include the combination of GPS navigation with the delivery routing GIS system. This will enable delivery optimization to occur while a truck is in route to its destination. The system could even incorporate traffic accidents and construction detours if that information is available. The potential for significant money savings can not be understated here.

GIS Can Revolutionize Your Business Strategy

I think that you can clearly see the value of a geographic information system in a business setting. But, if you still need more convincing, here is a great article about Nike, Inc and how they used GIS technologies to improve their business and increase their profit margin.

GIS can revolutionize your business strategy and enable you to capitalize on things that you didn’t even know existed before. A small initial investment in a GIS system can easily lead to large profit increases and significant expenditure decreases by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of your business plan.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thanks for checking out our blog (I work on the same blog with Tim).

      I love this article too! Definitely along the same lines with GIS and biz applications that our blog is focused on as well.

    • CWanamaker profile imageAUTHOR

      Christopher Wanamaker 

      8 years ago from Arizona

      Tim - Yes, good point - GIS is itself a business. I checked out your blog - good stuff as well. Very detailed. I will likely be going back to read more later. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image

      Tim Neidhardt 

      8 years ago

      The GIS business applications highlighted in this article are commonly grouped into two categories: improving market analysis (customer targeting) and improving operating efficiency. Another way to look at it is how GIS actually creates new businesses


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)