Using Google Earth to map your network fast and free.
If you’re a retailer with less than 10 stores, you can easily use a simple program like Excel to manage store information. However, if you have more than 10 stores, you already know Excel has it’s limits. Setting up a tool like Google Earth to help manage locations is often a first step retailers take when deciding to map networks. Today there are many mapping options available to retailers, from simple tools like Google Maps to advanced GIS enabled mapping tools like Kiwi. You can discover more tools in our article “5 mapping tools that can make your job easier.”
But why should you care about mapping retail locations at all?
It’s an easy question. To understand more about your retail locations spatially, maps help you integrate variables more efficiently. For example, you may have a cargo pool to ship products. Showing your retail locations on a map can allow you to discover and propose better vehicle routing suggestions. Many simple mapping tools like Google Earth don’t even cost a thing, but give retailers huge benefits in return. To understand how today’s tech-savvy retailers are using GIS and mapping technologies, check out our article on “5 Ways to use GIS in retail and banking.“
To help show you how easy it can be, here is a simple 7-step guide to mapping your retail locations with Google Earth.
1 – Download and install Google Earth.
2 – Open Google Earth and navigate to where you want to place a location. Click the “Add Placemark” button at the top of your screen (with the yellow pushpin).
3 – A window will appear in which you can enter the name, coordinates, style information, and any other descriptive information you feel is helpful.
4 – A pushpin will appear in the center of the 3D viewer, with a flashing box around it. You can position the pushpin with your mouse.
5 – When you click OK on the window, the Placemark will be saved in your “My Places” folder (left hand side of the screen). Subsequently, you can navigate to this Placemark by double-clicking on it. You can choose to reveal it or hide it using its check-mark box. In addition, the description tab contains a large text area where you add notes about the branch.
6 – Repeat steps 1 – 5 to add the rest of your locations as Placemarks.
7 – You can output a “KML” file which is used by the Google Earth and other mapping applications should you want to import your locations into any other mapping tools.
Google Earth is a fairly easy tool to use, and is a great starting point for retailers with small to medium sized networks looking to map their locations, yet also want the ability to upgrade to a more advanced tool later down the road. Mapping your locations visually will help you start to understand the benefits of a “birds-eye” view, and how those things around you impact your retail networks.