In-store surveys

Indian retailers are yet to understand and utilize successfully, the power of surveys. An intelligently designed and executed survey can provide powerful insights about the customers.

What can surveys tell you?

Customer demographics:

74% of your customers are women. 65% of them are married. 40% have children in the household. 8% of the customers in Bangalore are originally from West Bengal. Half the customers are aged between 25 and 40.

Surveys can tell you all this and more about your customers. They help you understand the demographics of your customer population which is extremely useful to have, as a retailer, if you are planning any kind of marketing activity.

Shopping behavior:

How often does the customer shop at your store? Was the customer alone or in a group? Is the payment via cash or card or vouchers? How far does the customer live from the store?

In-store surveys provide an understanding of the customer motivations and shopping behavior. Why are the customers coming to you? If you know why they are coming now, you know what to do to keep them in the future.

Shopping Pattern:

What does the customer’s shopping basket look like? What is the proportion of the major categories? Food vs. non-food. Home-theater vs. Hi-fi.

Simply put, in-store surveys can help a retailer understand who the customers are, why they are coming and what they are buying.

How to design a good survey?

Survey design is probably the most critical factor for the success of a survey.

Clear objectives

The first step in any survey is deciding what you want to learn. The objectives will determine who to survey and what to ask. If the objectives are unclear, the results will probably be unclear. A retailer’s objectives could be –

• Understand customer demographics
• Understand shopping behavior
• Understand shopping patterns
• Effectiveness of promotions
• Ratings of customer service/employee attitudes
• Customer satisfaction levels
• Competitor understanding

These sample objectives represent general areas. The more specific the objectives, the easier it is to get actionable answers.

Sample selection
There 2 main components of sample selection. The first is deciding who to interview. This group is called the target population. In most cases, everyone shopping in the store is the target population for an in-store survey.
The next thing to decide is how many people you need to interview. Statisticians know that a small, representative sample will reflect the group from which it is drawn. The larger the sample, the more precisely it reflects the target group. However, the rate of improvement in the precision decreases as your sample size increases. You must make a decision about your sample size based on factors such as: time available, budget and necessary degree of precision.

Avoiding a Biased Sample

A biased sample will produce biased results. Totally excluding all bias is almost impossible; however, if you recognize bias exists you can intuitively discount some of the answers.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
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