A drive time map is a great way to visualise how easily potential customers can reach a store location. By setting a maximum travel time limit, it’s possible to see all locations that fall within the catchment area.

Analysing and targeting based on catchment area is typically done using a straight line radius circle. The problem here is that it doesn’t understand that we’re at the mercy of the roads around us. Drive time catchment areas take into account traffic, one way streets, traffic lights and expected delays. This means that the shape is never a perfect circle and it’s always unique to the start location selected. A distance radius shape and a drive time map will look completely different.

IKEA needed to view a drive time map showing all the places that are reachable within a 20 minute drive from the Ballymun store in Dublin, Ireland. The final map is displayed below.

Drive time is a great indicator of how convenient it is to access the store. Accessibility will impact the behaviour of the visitor. For example, someone that lives close-by may wish to visit the store more regularly. They may spend small amounts frequently as they collect day to day essentials. People that live a longer drive away, may visit specifically due to a particular furniture need. They’re less likely to only select small items when at the store.

This information is important to the IKEA marketing team because they can tailor the advertising messaging for each of these groups of customers. People that live within a short distance can be targeted with ads showing smaller day to day essentials, and those with a longer drive can see different advert content.

Creating drive time maps

IKEA chose to select a drive time of 20 minutes, but it’s possible to select any time frame from 1 minute to 4 hours. It’s also possible to add more than one shape on the same map to see how coverage changes when using multiple travel times.

The TravelTime team made the custom shape in-house and exported it as a KML file. A KML file is just a file format that is readable using mapping programs. For this mapping project, we used a free tool called Google My Maps that allows people to make their own custom maps.

By importing the TravelTime KML shape, it is possible to view this area on an interactive map. It’s also possible to edit the colours and background of the map.

Create travel time polygons and matrices with the TravelTime API