MULO / Multi-Location Grows Up

MULO Grows Up

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What the heck is MULO anyway?  MULO refers to multi-location businesses.

They could be run by a corporate entity or franchises. MULO brands may be retailers, restaurants, health and wellness entities, personal services (like tutoring, tax prep, ear piercinghair styling, or even podcasting) or even entertainment centers like those offering pickleball, golf, and baseball.

MULO businesses may be on the verge of scaling from one local to a few regional storefronts. Or, they may be global brands with thousands of locations across multiple geographies.

But no matter what they’re selling to consumers and businesses and regardless of the number of locations they have, MULO businesses  have these things in common today:

  1. Their strategies are usually omnichannel. In other words, online integration is critical to their success. Whether consumers can order products online, make reservations, or view hotel rooms before they book, the full integration of digital applications into the brick-and-mortar world is no longer optional; it’s expected.
  2. MULO brands are looking to AI-driven analytical tools to better understand where to put new locations, invest in existing ones, and find and keep loyal customers. Knowing what consumers are buying and when is critical to managing inventory costs and driving investment decisions.
  3. Planning distribution and growth strategy has become more complex. Pre-pandemic, locating stores, restaurants, and other MULO businesses where people lived and worked was simpler. Now that people are working from home and shopping centers have lost their anchor stores, brands are becoming more thoughtful and creative with the size of their locations, where they put them, and how they drive traffic to them. The mega-mall is being replaced with smaller footprint outposts, incorporating online ordering as a means of delivering goods and services.
  4. Security (both in-store and cyber-security) has become important to both businesses and consumers. More than $13B is lost every year just to shoplifting. AI is being applied to in-location crime detection and MULO brands and financial services companies are working to reduce online fraud.
  5. The right talent is key. As more of the sales process becomes automated, the need to deliver high-quality human service at the point of sale becomes even more important. Having the right management and agency support means that brands can find new ways to leverage automation and creativity to compete and drive people to their brands.
  6. Marketing is complicated. Perhaps that’s the understatement of 2024. Large-scale influencer campaigns and massive stunts are great at driving eyeballs, but will they drive revenue? The combination of sophisticated online marketing and old-fashioned customer service will ultimately make the consumer experience better, but is it enough to keep future generations loyal to your MULO brand?

MULO brands across categories have much to learn from each other.

So, be sure to save November 7th on your calendar for a new type of one-day experience where you can hear from the best of the best in the MULOsphere and learn how to take your business profitably into 2025 — whether you’re scaling from one to two locations or figuring out which of your thousands of sites will survive!

Watch this space for details!

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.