Esther Chen

Senior Project Manager

October 31, 2013

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3 Field Survey Challenges For Retailers in China

Learn how to get better results from your field surveys.


Big data is a topic all over the world, but how retailers can collect the right information in standard formats is the key question.

The answer to this isn’t found scraping databases, it’s found on the ground, in field surveys, which most retailers already know. But conducting successful field surveys in countries like China presents big challenges. Here are 3 of those challenges with some ideas on how to overcome them.

Challenge 1 – Unrealistic Expectations

We all want a lot for a little, and that’s never a good approach to conducting surveys. Retailers want to get the most out of their money, which makes sense, but trying to do too much in one survey has the potential to over-complicate the questionnaire, which in turn over-complicates the process and ultimately the results. Smart retailers set up a key goal instead, and stay focused on that one thing. By doing this, retailers also help keep the surveyors in field on the right track, lowering the risk of wasted time and effort. Realistic expectations and goals will result in more useful data in the end.

Challenge 2 – Vendor Selection

If you’re going to conduct a survey, then you’re going to need a vendor. Selecting the right one is important, a carries a certain amount of risk. Here are some tips to help you overcome this challenge:

1- Smaller the better – A small company can react with more efficiency and directly manage surveyors in a way large very large companies can’t. These companies tend to be more local, which will help retailers who are embracing localization trends.

2- Unit price is important – Retailers know more then anyone that a lower cost can also mean a sacrifice in quality. Consider this when comparing cost to your end goals for the survey. 

3- Offer bonus fees – If the vendors can deliver the result earlier and with higher quality, then you should offer them a bonus for this, which will help shorten the timeline for final delivery from vendors.

Challenge 3 – Questionable Quality

Except for preparing some foolproof questions, checking survey quality is one of the most enduring, and largest challenges for retailers conducing field surveys. It’s not just field surveys. All data collection has headaches. Certain types of surveys render data that is easier to verify then others, like some consumer behavior surveys where companies can call people to double check if they did in fact participate in the survey. 

This is a challenge that will be supported in part by proper vendor selection. A good vender will have a system of quality checks in place to help assure you that the results you’re getting are quality. A good vendor can also help show you “How to Use Bad Data in Good Ways

Although challenges still exist, retail industries still rely heavily on field surveys for collecting powerful data. Knowing what challenges exist before starting, will at least help you prepare, set realistic expectations and potentially render higher quality results in the end.

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