Q & A with Tom Buxton, founder, Buxton Co.

The Buxton Co. knows precisely how much money you’ll spend on retail and where — maybe even before you do. The Fort Worth-based consumer-analytics and retail site-selection firm now has 27 terabytes of information — or the equivalent of 27 trillion bytes — to crunch for clients.

Buxton continues to expand its already broad purview. In the past few years, it has developed technology to advise hospitals on their retail offerings and patient patterns, city governments on their retail-development strategies, and packaged-good manufacturers on retail-product placement. Among Buxton’s more than 1,200 customers are FedEx Kinko’s, The Container Store and California Pizza Kitchen, and the communities of McKinney, Texas, Gary, Ind. and Buffalo, N.Y.

Founder Tom Buxton, 56, a former vice president at Radio Shack, formed his company in 1994. It now occupies more than 60,000 sq. ft. of office and tech space.

NREI: What are the challenges involved in managing a high volume of data?

Buxton: While we have all the data we need to identify a customer — twice the amount in the Library of Congress — the key is accessing and processing it more efficiently and continuing to develop the software we need to manage it, and to do it faster and faster. The retail world literally changes every month, and our clients need us to be high-speed.

NREI: Tell us about your new HealthCareID program.

Buxton: The average mall works hard to get anywhere from three to four million visits annually. A hospital gets anywhere from a quarter to a third of that. Plus, the average patient on discharge from the hospital spends $300 on supplies and equipment that is usually purchased from [outside] pharmacies and medical supply stores. That’s interesting to hospitals because they’re missing out by not selling those supplies. We’re also advising them on where their clinics should go. The average hospital emergency room wait of eight hours has created a huge aftermarket for [outlying] minor emergency care clinics. We identify where the population density is and where that location should be. In January, we brought in a hospital administrator from Illinois, James Perez, to direct our alliances with healthcare organizations.

NREI: And what about your work for consumer package-good sellers?

Buxton: For a customer like Proctor & Gamble, we can use our data to advise them which retailers are most likely to give them shelf space for their products in which areas. That way, they’re not wasting marketing efforts.

NREI: You are also doing some highly-specialized analytic work for catalog retailers. Can you give us an example?

Buxton: Just like our other work for brick-and-mortar retailers, we analyze who the customers are and what they’re buying. Cabela’s sporting goods, for example, sends out a catalog almost every single week and they change the cover each time. But our data allows them to put out five different covers tailored to five different specific customer-buying habits.

NREI: What’s next for Buxton?

Buxton: We’ve launched a new TenantID program aimed at developers. Also, the healthcare industry wants us to create a development wing, which would be a last step of sorts for us in that cycle after the branch location and merchandising strategies.

TAGS: News
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