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How technology can make your accompanied shop even more awesome

The reason accompanied shops are such a great methodology is that they replicate real-life shopping experiences so you can understand what your customers are doing in your stores and why they are doing it. We already mentioned that they are growing in popularity - and as technology continues to improve, it’s likely to have a big impact.

When it comes to accompanied shops, you’ve got two options: there’s an in-person accompanied shop where a moderator joins the respondent for their shopping trip, or digital accompanied shops, whereby respondents use a smartphone or other technology to record their shopping experience. It’s not uncommon for the two methods to be used together. For example, you might use technology to back up the findings of a traditional accompanied shop, or shoppers might use Whatsapp or upload pictures and videos as part of a pre-task. One thing’s for sure - with digital devices having speed and ease of use on their side, it’s easy to see why mobiles are being used more and more in accompanied shopping.

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So what’s the appeal?

It’s easy for researchers to send different respondents out on a shopping expedition, monitoring and guiding them solely through their mobile devices. And with a task list asking them to engage with a product or service in a specific way and a questionnaire that assesses their behaviour as they do so, mobile devices act as an assistant in every respondent’s pocket. It’s also easy to communicate with and monitor your respondents through chat and SMS - and you’ll also know that they’re doing what they are supposed to do through checklists, geotagging and picture or blog uploading.

In fact, one of the biggest benefits is that without researcher physically being next to them, respondents are likely to feel more relaxed which results in a more authentic shopping experience and more comprehensive results that intricately represent consumer behaviour. It’s non-intrusive, cost-effective and time-saving - and because people are accustomed to using their connected devices on a daily basis, they’re more inclined to allow non-intrusive ethnographic data to be recorded. Additionally, because mobile adoption is high, mobile methods slot into consumers’ lives organically. Here’s how you can use technology to make your accompanied shopping even more awesome:

Using mobile for pre-tasks

As well as during the assisted shop, you can also utilise mobile before to set pre-work to complete. Using mobile in this way means you can ensure you are getting maximum shopper insights and engagement with your respondents throughout the accompanied shop. For example, you could ask your respondents to take photos of themselves in clothes prior to the research, then during the shop itself, you could go through the photos with them to get a qualitative view of their answers.

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Using technology to improve communication

The use of smartphones also enables you to easily communicate with and brief your respondents. Your chosen software will allow you to give them clear instructions on what they need to do, what section of the store to visit and what product to look at. And it’s also a great way for participants to communicate with each other too. If you’re doing a group accompanied shop, for example, your respondents can easily communicate and introduce themselves to each other before they meet for the assisted shop, which can help to reduce participant anxiety.

Using mobile during the shop

From sending different respondents out on a shopping expedition to monitoring and guiding them through the experience via their mobile devices, technology makes it easier than ever to communicate with your respondents during the shop. You can easily provide them with a task list to encourage them to engage with a specific product or service, and participants can take images or videos of clothes or display points during the assisted shop that caught their eye and then explain why - and because this type of qualitative market research feels so natural, it will also likely make them more inclined to participate.

Using technology to follow up

Technology also allows you to keep the communication going with your participants after your accompanied shop has taken place. Perhaps you need to ask them some follow-up questions, or maybe you have post-tasks that they need to complete - either way, mobile makes it easy to stay in touch and your respondents will be happy to keep the conversation going even after the research has taken place.

We hope you’ve found our series of blogs on accompanied shopping useful. If you want to access all this info together in one easy-to-read place, why not download the entire guide to accompanied shopping? It’s packed full of extra tips, even more fantastic recruitment advice, and examples of our own experience. Check it out here.

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