DENTON — The University of North Texas is launching an innovative workshop to address a new concept in retail merchandising: how Geographic Information System, or GIS, technology can help companies grow and prosper.


The workshop, “Global Information Systems Powering Your Data,” will help attendees understand how retailers can use location-based data to optimize merchandising — in other words, make the sale.


Event co-organizer Murray Rice, an associate professor in the Department of Geography and the Environment, said location-based data is a retail game changer.


“Everything ultimately comes back to location,” said Rice, noting that there are opportunities for GIS technology to improve a brand’s entire distribution system — from raw material sourcing to product fabrication to warehouse to store.


“Many retailers have figured out the real estate part, related to their store locations and market areas, but they leave inefficiencies on the table related to how products flow through their system. If a retailer has all of the right products, but does not have the products located in the right places in their logistical system to actually sell them, then they might as well not have products or stores at all.”


Judith Forney, dean of the College of Merchandising, Hospitality and Tourism, added successful retailers understand the consumer’s ability to buy anything, anywhere and anytime.


“This paradigm shift has created an elephant in the room that people either misunderstand or want to ignore,” said Forney. “Retailers need to capture consumer dollars at every possible touch point, both in store and online. One clear opportunity will be the ability to leverage GIS technology that will add value to the shopper experience and provide more opportunity to the retailer in optimum placement of products at the right time and at the right store.”


The day’s conversations and presentations will be spearheaded by experts in GIS tech, big data and merchandising tools — including Forester Research Vice President and Principal Analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, a leading industry expert on eCommerce, omnichannel retail, consumer behavior and online shopping trends.


The event is hosted by UNT’s Department of Merchandising and Digital Retailing, the Department of Geography and the Environment, Department of Economics and the UNT Global Digital Retailing Research Center.