When evaluating new products or service offerings, retailers should use qualitative research methods to explore customer interest. Customer focus groups are better suited for understanding customer reactions to potential offerings than are quantitative surveys.
The ease of shopping online has greatly improved in the last few years, and the advent of click-and-collect has been another game changer with the often handier, cheaper alternative to getting your items delivered proving to be a very useful service.
If like other people I am not alone in leaving my shopping to the last minute, then the onslaught of the summer season with its calendar of weddings, christenings, and parties bringing with it the obligatory demands for shopping new outfits, gifts, and other associated paraphernalia has certainly put me through my paces.
True to form, last week I did a last minute weekly roundup of wedding and birthday gift shopping online and plumped for click and collect at my local department store the next day. Easy peasy – ready to collect free of charge from 2pm, and even better when a text pinged through mid-morning the next day to say my order was ready for collection. A quick 25-minute round trip at lunch with free collection parking and I was set.
It occurred to me that instead of using a follow-up survey to answer this question, the retailer would be better served using qualitative research methods to explore customer interest in these options.
I think it’s fair to say that more times than not the fulfilment aspect of online shopping works brilliantly. There are now hourly slots for getting your groceries delivered, same day deliveries are fast entering the market, hourly notifications keep you abreast of your orders, timely options to change your delivery if you’re not going to be at a place for safe delivery, alterable time slots, and so forth and so on. The technology has taken leaps and bounds, and SMS just makes the process convenient, smart, and effective. Obviously if something goes wrong then the whole thing tends to collapse like a pack of cards, but it seems to be the exception rather than the rule.
So it was to my surprise and interest when I picked up my online order last week and was asked if I was interested in taking part in a trial to explore new online delivery options and would these options perhaps have encouraged me to get a home delivery as opposed to click & collecting?
Now I had chosen Click & Collect over home delivery because it cost nothing (apart from the petrol) and I could get my order a day earlier than the delivery. In fact, customer feedback from the latest CFI retail report shows that "the allure of free shipping is unmistakable, as 65% of survey respondents said they would add items to their purchase to reach a threshold needed to qualify for free shipping. Another 32% said they have come to expect free shipping regardless of the amount in their online shopping cart."
So, what were these trial delivery options I wondered? Well, there were three options:
- Have my delivery left with a neighbour
- Have a delivery box nailed to my house with a key code system in which the delivery could be securely deposited
- Give a set of my house keys to the retailer in question so they could let themselves in
I’m sorry, did I hear right? A retailer holding a set of my house keys? Yes, it is a very well respected retailer, but all the same, it didn’t quite feel right. Who would have my keys? Could I vet them? What if they lost my keys? What if they witnessed a break in? My mind was racing ahead with the various scenarios. But “No,” I found myself saying. It was a stretch far (for me at least) and I wouldn’t be interested.
I found myself wondering why this option was on a survey. A trial offering doesn’t appear to be ready; the retailer appears to be simply trying to gauge interest of its customer base.
It occurred to me that instead of using a follow-up survey to answer this question, the retailer would be better served using qualitative research methods to explore customer interest in these options. Customer focus groups, for example, are better suited for exploring out-of-the-box ideas and understanding customer reactions to these ideas than are quantitative surveys. Focus groups allow a retailer to think through an idea collaboratively with the very people who represent their target customer base, an exercise that provides rich depth of insight into how people will respond to such trial offerings.
For me, I think I’ll just get a little more organised and shop a little earlier to reduce the delivery fees and hold onto my house keys.
CFI Group has the experience and expertise to help you conduct qualitative customer research for potential new products and services. CFI Group’s system utilizes qualitative one-on-one customer interviews specifically designed to cover both issues identified as relevant by management personnel and to allow customers to voice their opinions, concerns and desires which might otherwise be left unknown to management. For more information on our qualitative solutions go to: CFI Qualitative Research.
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