The challenge

Continually improving the customer experience presents a real challenge to retailers looking to retain an “edge” over their competitors.  A leading high-end WA retailer asked us to help identify  strategies to refine the offer and improve the shopper’s in-store experience.

With new competition entering the marketplace, our research needed to provide clarity about customer experience, perspectives, needs and preferences.  In an increasingly crowded market, what steps could the retailer take to ensure the offer remained distinct, attractive and relevant?

The project was made more complex because the retailer had four sites to consider across the metropolitan area.  Each site had a different character and clientele, but insights and learnings needed to be applicable in all stores.

Our approach

Research Solutions took a staged approach to the study, beginning with secondary research to identify global trends.  This research identified a host of possibilities.  A client workshop selected the ideas with the most potential and refined each for later testing.

An extended qualitative research program formed Stage 2 of the study. For each retail site:

  1. We asked participants to keep a four-day shopping diary and then conducted paired in-depth interviews and in-store tours.
  2. We followed the interviews  with an online discussion group for all  participants to discuss their likes and preferences.
  3. The program’s final step was to host a series of focus groups – one for each store – to test initiatives identified in the secondary research and participant-generated ideas.

Key themes and ideas from each focus group were immediately fed back to participants via the discussion group. This encouraged further discussion, closed the feedback loop, and ensured everyone felt valued.

 The outcome

As a result of the research, the retailer immediately implemented some of the findings with good results. Other insights answered questions about strategic direction, with more significant initiatives needing more time to implement. New concepts continue to be brought to the market.

Our client received many unprompted, positive feedback from customers who participated in the research. All suggested they’d be happy to partake in a similar exercise in the future; helping improve the customer experience made them feel valued.

One email read,  “Hi there, Linda!  Many thanks for the info and the message from (the owners).  I think anyone who has anything to do with their businesses would not be surprised by their genuine personal touch.  I think this is one of the reasons why they have done well so far and have the respect of the local community for the contribution they’ve made.  We wish them success and hope they are around for a lot longer.  They are part of our community.”

Happily, we received some terrific feedback about the process, too!