Retailers use analogues (similar stores) routinely in the process of site assessment, either as a basic method of sales forecasting in its own right, or as a check on more complex quantitative models. In earlier stages of our research, we identified intuitive or qualitative causal knowledge structures derived from cognitive mapping interviews with UK retail directors to classify new sites according to their degree of likeness on these same attributes. Here, we focus on how the analogues identified by our qualitative system can be visualised effectively for use in location analysis. We discuss the role of analogy in retail location decisionmaking and the advantages and disadvantages of different methods of visualisation. We evaluate the visual aspects of the system developed in the course of our research with reference to users' qualitative responses. The central issue appears to be the value users place on the system being able to summarise analogues simply on key dimensions at a general level, as well as its ability to 'drill down' into the detail so that analogue representativeness can be established.
- COGNITIVE MAPS