The Australian Centre for Retail Studies (ACRS) is an independent retail and consumer research centre based within the Department of Marketing in the Facility of Business and Economics at Monash University, Caulfield Campus. The ACRS provides a range of research and consulting services to the private sector and government clients, with a particular emphasis on retail and consumer research.
The challenge for ACRS was to collect ‘in-field’ research that:
(a) was not retrospective – where shoppers are required to remember steps they took prior to purchase
(b) a mix of qualitative and quantitative insight – where shoppers are asked not only how, but why they conducted certain behaviours
(c) was backed up with photographic evidence – validating the shoppers purchase journey through photographs.
In an effort to meet this challenge, The Realise Group, Australia’s leading customer experience measurement company, recommended ACRS consider a solution utilising it’s Field Agent iPhone App.
Field Agent was best suited to ACRS’s challenge as it has the capability to identify a group of consumers who are in the market for a variety of products over the coming month and deliver the information and photos required throughout each path to purchase.
Field Agent was an affordable solution that gave ACRS access to a mix of qualitative and quantitative insights over each step of the path to purchase process. Shoppers were able to provide data and photographic evidence throughout each step of the process ensuring information was not lost in recall and stages were validated through photographs.
The Project – Stage 1
ACRS used the Field Agent iPhone App over two stages of the project. The first stage, the ‘eligibility stage’, canvassed the 20,000 strong Field Agent iPhone user group to identify consumers who were intending to make a purchase over the coming month. In addition to the question relating to an up and coming purchase this group was also asked:
– to identify the category their planned purchase fell into
– what they were planning to purchase
– how much they intended on spending
– how they thought the would end up making the purchase
– what kind of research they thought they would use for this product
– how involved they are in the identified product category
– how important it is to make the right decision to purchase
– how price conscious they are
– the % of retail purchases they generally make online
– their gender, age, state they reside (metro or regional?)
– their income bracket.
The Project – Stage 2
For this part of the research 75 Agents were selected based on being in the market for a variety of products in the next month. Through the Field Agent App, the shoppers were tracked in terms of their pre-purchase behaviour, including stages of information search and any barriers or facilitators experienced, as well as their final purchase (or non-purchase) decision.
Agents were asked:
– what they were planning to purchase
– what channels of research they had conducted so far
– what channel research they used
– if they encountered any barriers or positives with their research at any of the path to purchase stages
– if any of the encounters made them change their mind about any part of the purchase
– if they needed more steps or actions to explain their path to purchase
– if they ended up making the purchase
– take a photo of their purchase
– take a photo of the purchase receipt
– how much the purchase cost in total
– how they ended up making the purchase
– where they ended up making the purchase & why they chose this place to make the purchase
– did they make the purchase from the place they expected to
– why they did not make a purchase
The results of this study gave ACRS insights into:
1. Average Path to Purchase
How many steps it took before making a purchase.
2. Common Barriers
What barriers shoppers experienced throughout the various path to purchase stages
3. Common Facilitators
What facilitators shoppers experienced throughout the various path to purchase stages
4. Purchase Likelihood
Identifying the factors important to each stage to minimise barriers and increase facilitators.
Here’s a sample of what our Agents said!
“The biggest positive for me was getting recommendations from people that I trust.”
“Lots of variety and price points make decisions difficult.”
“The person in the store was not knowledgeable, when asked the difference between the products she just answered ‘it depends'”
“The website had a good in built search engine and a good comparison list, which made it easy to compare the options.”
“Some sites aren’t optimised for mobile viewing or use flash player features that don’t work on iPhones.”
Sample Agent Purchase Photos
Jason Pallat, Research Consultant, Australian Centre for Retail Studies
“Field Agent provided us with a cost effective tool to track the path to purchase customer journey in our recent Onmi-channel Consumer Study. The Shopper ‘Path to Purchase’ was tracked in terms of their pre-purchase behaviour, including stages of information search and any barriers or facilitators experienced, as well as their final purchase (or non-purchase) decision. We were impressed with the App’s ability to seek eligible participants who were intending on making a purchase over the next month. The insights we received from the Field Agent App would not be possible through any other research means.”