I have found Bloomberg Business Week to be not only informative, but a surprisingly amusing publication. The covers in particular are often downright hilarious. I was catching up on the article, “Gap’s Athleta Looks a Lot Like Lululemon,” from July 26. The article mentions that a majority of athletic clothing retailer Athleta’s locations are about a mile or less away from a location of their competitor, Lululemon.
“The geographic proximity to Lululemon locations is a coincidence, and Athleta is simply opening stores where, according to a “heat map,” its online customers buy the most, says Toby Lenk, head of Gap’s, Athleta’s parent company, online operations.”
I found this use of heat maps interesting. Heat maps use cell size and color to display complex information in an intelligible way. Aside from just looking cool, the heat map is one of the most useful and powerful data-analysis tools available in business intelligence. It is a visualization feature that presents multiple rows of data in a way that makes immediate sense by assigning different size and color to cells each representing a row.
Islington Council Parking Services also leveraged heat maps to improve resident relations. Cancellations of unwarranted parking tickets are problematic due to both the high administrative cost and angering innocent motorists. Heat maps enabled Islington to identify streets and neighborhoods where cancellations were too high, enabling staff to find the reasons for this and take action.
Business insights can often be revealed more quickly and easily through various data visualizations, making the availability of a wide variety of visualizations an important feature of a BI tool.
As for the retailers in question, I haven’t personally tried any items yet from either brand, despite being a part time fitness instructor for 14 years now. My loyalty lies with Everlast and Champion for clothes and Ryka for shoes. Although I will admit Lululemon has sparked my curiosity.