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Accompanied shopping 101

In today’s world, the customer is becoming increasingly important. As brands fight to become more customer-centric, accompanied shops are one of the best ways to really get to grips with consumer buyer behaviour. This explains why accompanied shops – also known as assisted shops or shopalongs – have become increasingly popular in qualitative market research in recent years.

Essentially, accompanied shopping gives in-the-moment shopper insights and a front-row seat to the customer shopping experience. They enable businesses to really get underneath their customers’ skin - and because of this access to unbeatable insights, they are a fantastic way for brands to understand their customers’ decisions and shopper journeys in order to improve their performance.

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What is an accompanied shop?

First things first, let’s go back to basics. An accompanied shop is a qualitative market research methodology where pre-recruited respondents walk around a shop just as if they were carrying out their usual shopping, but with one big difference: they are joined by a researcher who observes everything, from how they approach the store and what they look for to what they like and dislike. During the accompanied shopping session, interaction is kept to a minimum to ensure customer behaviour remains as natural as possible, although there’s usually a pre and/or post-shop interview to get to the bottom of their decisions and actions.

Generally speaking, accompanied shops are conducted in order to observe in-store interactions with products and brands and gauge customer reactions. For example, is a purchase spontaneous or a well thought out choice? How do things such as packaging, brand, display and even price affect purchasing behaviour? And which aisles do customers tend to visit and why? All this info can then be used to help inform decisions on everything from store layouts to packaging, product development to product location and even store navigation.

In a nutshell, accompanied shops help brands to understand the drivers and influencers behind a shopper’s in-store behaviour - and by experiencing these shopping trips in-situ and in real-time, researchers can access deeper insights than ever before and start to deliver more customer-centric experiences.

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What are the benefits?

More and more brands are beginning to understand the power of assisted shops and the value that they can provide. Without a doubt, the biggest benefit is that they allow researchers to really understand the customer by observing first hand how they behave, where they go, what they buy and why. Basically, by getting inside the mind of your consumers and getting to know their buying behaviour, you can access deep shopper insights. These insights can then help to identify what stores are doing well, how they could improve and what needs to be done to offer an unbeatable customer experience - allowing brands access to the info they need to make truly informed customer-centric decisions.

Not enough to tempt you? How about this - accompanied shops also enable you to gather insights from competitors’ stores too, so you can see what the competition is doing and get to grips with why your customers might favour a particular store or certain product over another. Which means you can get one step ahead of the competition - and stay there!

Ready to get started with your accompanied shop? Stay tuned for our next blog which focuses on recruitment tips and techniques for accompanied shopping!

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