Why the Esri Platform Is Vital at The Shopping Center Group

By Gregg Katz, Director of Innovation & Technology, The Shopping Center Group

Just over four years ago, The Shopping Center Group (TSCG) started a GIS platform change process. GIS is a vital part of our business because it allows our associates to visually tell the story about a market, trade area, and, most importantly, a potential location. As a user of MapInfo and Regis for 20 years, we were faced with a problem. The versions of the software we were using were obsolete and unsupported.

GIS allows The TSCG to visually tell the story about a market, a trade area, and most importantly, a potential location.

Realizing we would have to start from scratch even if we stayed with the same vendors, TSCG formed a GIS Committee representing all service lines within our business (executives, tenant representation, leasing, property management and investment sales) in order to compare possible options, whether that meant staying with a newer version of MapInfo, RegisPro Online, or looking at the alternatives such as Trade Area Systems, and Esri. In the end, a course of action was determined — one that was unanimously decided on — Esri.

One of the reasons TSCG chose Esri was because of the depth and breadth of data available, including demographic profiles of locations.

Choosing a Complete Platform to Support the Entire Organization

Why Esri, you may ask? What makes it different/better? Well, each company and user has differing needs, but for TSCG, the depth and breadth of data, the broad reach of its platform throughout the GIS community, the continual innovation, and the willingness to form a true partnership (versus a strictly vendor relationship) were among the key reasons.

Now let me back up for a quick minute and tell you about TSCG. Since 1984, our retail-only real estate platform has provided a full assortment of advisory services to tenants, landlords, developers, investors, and financial institutions throughout our territory. Our work on their behalf is dedicated to the validation of those descriptions. Headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia and with 22 offices from New York to Southern California, we are the largest firm in our field in the United States.

TSCG is the largest retail-only real estate organization in the United States.

And, by the way, we map like crazy! The unique challenge: each of our approximately 700 retailer and landlord clients want something slightly different. Therefore, no map is the same. We produce hundreds of demographic, psychographic, and expenditure reports daily along with 30–50 unique maps.

Mapping Has Become the Heart of the Business

GIS is such a vital part of our business that we employ more than 25 mappers…over 10 percent of our company. In addition, when we brought the Esri platform on board three years ago, we had only three mappers with any Esri experience. Not only were we changing a core production product, but we were creating significant internal change as well. There were bumps in the road, but we always had ample resources at our disposal to solve any obstacle we faced.

TSCG is able to create professional marketing materials pulling from their proprietary retailer database easily for clients.

Fast-forward to today. TSCG has a fully implemented Esri enterprise platform using Citrix and centralized databases. We produce best-in-class materials and have created a huge proprietary retailer database to complement the Esri data offerings. Utilizing the ArcGIS platform, including Esri Business Analyst Online, ArcGIS for Desktop and Business Analyst for Desktop, Esri has helped us to create an exceptionally efficient platform that meets our needs.

Come Along for the Ride

What’s next? Well, we would like you to come along on our journey as we now seek to really put Esri’s offerings to the test by utilizing as many relevant “bells and whistles” as are necessary to set us apart from the competition. Whether that is field data access and entry, expanded reporting, or leveraging our location analytics focus, we are excited about what’s to come. It’s an exciting time for GIS at TSCG, and we are proud of what we have accomplished. We have more exciting plans in store. Stay Tuned!