Consumers prefer the technology of chain retailers

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Consumers are increasingly choosing big chain retailers with better technology. (Weedezign/iStockPhoto)

Technology successes and failures are seriously impacting whether consumers return to a store or restaurant. As a result, consumers are increasingly choosing big chain retailers with the most current tech platforms for their shopping needs. 

In the study by Boomtown, 57% of respondents who frequent large chain establishments over smaller retailers name technology as a key reason for this choice, followed by online ordering and local pickup, 50%; and self-checkout options, 49%.

In addition, 46% of respondents said the well-functioning technology gives them greater confidence in a brand, and 44% said it encourages more visits to these retailers. On the flip side, technology not on par would cause 28% of consumers to frequent a retailer less frequently.

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Still, with technology comes risk and glitches. As many as 80% of consumers have encountered technical issues at retail stores, and almost 60% have encountered these glitches multiple times. In addition, almost 60% report encountering a slow or malfunctioning electronic payments system, and 36% have encountered bad Wi-Fi. For more than half of consumers, 56%, a negative technology experience will lead to the shopper filing an official complaint. 

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Alfred "Chip" Kahn IV, CEO and founder of Boomtown, was surprised at the number of consumers who have experienced technical glitches while shopping and dining, and even more surprised by the vast number of consumers that immediately take action following those glitches. 

"Considering that 55% of consumers will complain to store managers when they have an issue and more than a quarter (27%) will visit the business less in the future, this is definitely a problem that needs a solution," Kahn told FierceRetail. "Our advice for retailers is to invest in preventative measures to ensure this doesn't occur in the first place—don't just rely on an apology after the damage has been done."

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As a result, Kahn advises that retailers implement—as well as doing more to support and maintain—the technology that consumers find integral to the experience. The report named the following examples:

  • Functional, seamless digital payment options (credit, debit, Square, EBT, cash, Apple Pay, Google Pay, other mobile payment, etc.)
  • Up-to-date online inventory for browsing ahead of store visits
  • Self-checkout options,
  • Online ordering capabilities, for pickup in store 
  • Online ordering with same-day or one-day home delivery
  • Mobile ordering options/capability 

"Our report showed that the bar has been raised much higher, and the stakes for poor functionality or system failure—even just a one-time event—can be serious for the health of a retailer," Kahn said. "This means that savvy businesses will be evaluating, upgrading and enhancing their tools and systems to create a flawless customer experience. Those who don't make that investment will undoubtedly see an effect on their bottom line."