Consumer Research Basics for Small Retail Businesses

Consumer Research Basics for Small Retail Businesses

April 23, 2021 Off By Koehler Home Decor

The chances are good that you have read and heard plenty about the importance of consumer research to retailers. Which is fine, if you are a huge retail brand with a large marketing budget. But what about small retailers? How can they leverage the proven benefits of consumer research with their much smaller financial, time and staff resources?

More easily than you might think is the fortunate answer. Here is a look at some of the best consumer research methods (and the worst) that small retailers can take advantage of.

What is the Importance of Consumer Research and What is its Purpose?

Customer research, at its most basic level, aims to better understand your customers by examining their attitudes, needs, motivations, and behavior in relation to your company. In the end, you’ll be able to better identify, understand, analyze, and retain your customers as a result of this.

Customer Research Strategies for Small Retail Brands

Online Surveys

Online surveys, which are becoming increasingly popular and relatively inexpensive, are widely used by retailers to gather information from current and potential customers. You can use your own customer database or third-party consumer survey panels that include your customers to conduct them.

You can also make use of simpler tools. Social media polls can be quick, easy, and inexpensive to implement (especially on Facebook and Instagram) or by setting up a poll via an inexpensive platform such as Survey Monkey.

Mail surveys

Once the gold standard, mail surveys have fallen out of favor for quicker, less expensive options. Printed surveys are mailed and sent back in a pre-paid envelope. Response rates (the proportion of people sending back a completed survey) are often very low and the turn-around time for mail surveys to be returned is long.

Some online retailers could consider making use of a newer form of printed survey by adding a survey card in with product packages. The mail in rate may still be low, but if you add a link (and for even greater convenience a QR code) to an online poll the response, statistically, should be reasonably good.

Telephone interviews

Although they provide faster feedback than mail surveys, the effectiveness will be limited by the available phone numbers, particularly since you can’t solicit to cell phone numbers without permission. In addition, potential customers are often wary of being called and may be reluctant to give anything other than short answers.

Making Use of Google Analytics

Google Analytics can show you a lot about both those who visit your website in general and those who convert (make a purchase) and is an excellent tool for consumer research.

Here what to look for and the areas to pay most attention in Google Analytics to conduct it.

The Audience Section

This section provides you data about users who visit your website such as gender, age, and location of visitors to your website.

Here you can find a subsection in Google Analytics for demographics, interests, geo, behaviors, devices and more. Look at those characteristics and demographics that are relevant to you and your business.

By knowing and understanding these demographics, you can best tailor your website to suit their preferences and interests. You can also create content and imagery that resonates with your audience and where to focus your campaigns or ads to drive better results.

The Acquisition Section

This section of Google Analytics is what performance managers use regularly to check the performance of Google Ads campaigns and channel performance such as Google paid search, organic, direct, and social. It shows you how users arrive to your website Things to ask yourself while looking at this section include:

Check out the All Traffic > Source/Medium section. Here ask yourself, where are customers coming from – what sources/channels has the highest volume of users and what doesn’t? Is there room for improvement in those channels?

You can also pay attention what sources are driving you transactions, revenue, how many new users you’re gaining and how long people are spending on your website

Check out the Search Console > Landing Pages section in Google Analytics. Here you can see what landing pages on your website are resulting in conversions and the click-through-rate of your landing page. Use this to better understand what your audience is interested in. Look at creating more content similar to those pages with high conversion rates or high click through rate

The Behavior Section

This section allows you to get a better understanding of how people are interacting with your website.

Check out the Overview section. As the name suggests, it’s a great overview and shows you which pages on your site are most popular and how many page views a specific landing page has. Ask yourself, are your most important landing pages in the top 10 landing page list? If not, re-evaluate your strategy to ensure you’re driving traffic to these pages


Dive deeper into Site Content > Exit Pages. Here you can see what landing pages people are ‘exiting’ your website from. For example, does your checkout page have a high exit percentage? If so, check your checkout to ensure there are no blockers to customers purchasing

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