Survey: 59% of Retailers and Restaurant Chains Plan to Increase Investment in Location Tech

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Customer demand for hybrid shopping experiences is undeniable, but many retail and restaurant brands are still struggling to keep up.

In an effort to learn why that is, and what needs to change for retail and restaurant brands to deliver more personalized experiences across channels, Forrester Consulting and the geofencing startup Radar recently partnered on a survey of customer experience leaders at regional and national retailers and restaurants across the U.S.

The group found an industry on the precipice of major change. While most restaurant chains and retailers aren’t currently leveraging location data enterprise-wide, the survey found that executives are increasing their investments in location technology and expect to see the benefits of those efforts within months.

“The study validates that customer experience leaders are turning to location technology to help address new demands,” says Radar CEO Nick Patrick. “This demonstrates the business opportunity for companies that can successfully integrate location technology enterprise-wide for services like order ahead and arrival detection, omnichannel personalization, loyalty programs, contactless payments, fleet optimization, and augmented reality.”

Over the past few years, customers have demonstrated a strong preference for experiences that are seamless, convenient, and personalized. Restaurant order-ahead and pickup or retail buy online and pick up in-store were a rarity before the pandemic but are now considered a baseline offering. As they look ahead, executive leaders are increasingly coming to see location technology as the solution they need to bridge the gap between digital and physical experiences and create the types of personalized hybrid experiences that drive business growth, Patrick says.

Fifty-nine percent of companies in the Forrester/Radar survey indicated they plan to increase their investment in location technology, with an average expected revenue increase of 15%. Meanwhile, 60% of leaders say their organizations do not use location technology as well as they should.

Patrick is not surprised by that figure. He says companies that have built location technology in-house often encounter challenges scaling beyond one initial use case. Keeping up-to-date with operating system updates, privacy protocols, and generally maintaining their implementation over time is a struggle for some enterprise brands.

“Many companies turn to third-party vendors to solve these challenges and have more success integrating location across multiple use cases,” he says.

Among the businesses struggling the most are restaurant brands, which tend to have a harder time demonstrating to customers the value of sharing location data. Nearly half of restaurant and retail brands in the Forrester/Radar survey cited permissions prompting as a challenge. Before these brands can leverage location data to its fullest potential, they have to establish customer trust by demonstrating the benefit of sharing personal data.

Patrick says one way to establish that trust is by having clear permissions prompts, so customers understand the value they’ll get by allowing access to their data. 

“Additionally, companies should only collect the location data that they need to deliver those experiences. For instance, many location-based use cases can be created without requiring background location data,” he says. “That way, businesses minimize the data they collect, while also delivering seamless, world-class experiences that customers expect.”

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.