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Research Methodology: Mystery-Shopping in Retail Sector Australia

MBS520 Research Preparation for Business

Unit description 

The aim of the unit is to provide students with the opportunity to develop a critical understanding of the value of research in the business context in order to build business knowledge that generates new questions as well as providing answers. This unit covers a broad range of contemporary research designs in business-related disciplines. Topics covered include research problem discovery and definition; planning the research process; research design; and research presentation.

Aims of the unit 

The broad aims of this unit are to:  Prepare students to better understand how research informs practice within the business discipline;  Enable students to independently examine and critique existing research;  Provide opportunities for students to develop conceptual and analytical skills involved in discovering research problems, preparing literature reviews, and formulating research designs;  Develop written and oral presentation skills in the preparation of assessable coursework.

Learning outcomes for the unit 

On successful completion of the unit you should be able to:  Discover and formulate a research problem (LO1);  Prepare a literature review and critically evaluate research studies (LO2);  Demonstrate familiarity with a range of research designs employed in business research (LO3);  Understand the principles involved in selecting a methodological framework (LO4);  Describe the types of ways in which data can be collected, coded and analysed in business research (LO5);  Present research to a varied audience (LO6)

Graduate attributes developed in the unit This unit will contribute to the development of the following Graduate Attributes. Communication, Critical and creative thinking, Social interaction, Independent and lifelong learning, Ethics, Social justice, Global perspective and Interdisciplinary. 

Answer

Final Research Design

(How mystery-shopping work in retail sector in Australia)

Introduction:

This research aims at designing an appropriate research methodology approach for analyzing how mystery-shopping is executed in the Australian retail industry. With the help of mystery shoppers, Australian retailers could assess their quality of customer service. Over the past few years, the retailers in Australia  have focused on enhancing their service quality in order to engage a huge number of customers in the business (Jankal & Jankalová, 2011). The high-quality customer service not only contributes to the development of the business opportunities but also facilitates retailers in gaining customers’ loyalty. By using mystery shoppers, the retailers in Australia can identify whether their employees offer high-standard customer service to the customers. 

In this research, the researcher has analyzed the theoretical and practical contribution of the designed research. In order to design the research methods in an appropriate way, various research areas have been analyzed in line with the research topic. Some of the research areas that have been analysed in-detailed include research methods, sources of data, data accessibility issues, limitations of the research and ethical considerations. 

Significance of the research:

This research has conducted a detailed analysis of how mystery-shopping work in the retail sector in Australia. Over the past few years, the popularity of mystery-shopping tool has increased radically across different sectors (Kocevar-Weidinger et al., 2010). However, the mystery-shopping tool is majorly used in the service industry. Australian retailers use this tool externally by appointing market research companies or internally by themselves to measure their service quality. Nowadays, the mystery-shopping company provides detailed and real-time information electronically to the clients. With the help of feedback collected from mystery shoppers, the retailers can assess how their employees support customers’ queries and issues regarding any particular product or service. Improving customer service quality is one of the major objectives of Australian retailers, which have involved mystery shoppers by themselves or by any external agencies. Before the emergence of mystery-shopping concept in the market, it was very difficult for the retailers to measure their quality of service. Most of the business analysts have agreed that the retailers can easily enhance their service quality by using mystery shoppers (Jankal & Jankalová, 2011). 

This research contributes to developing an in-depth understanding of the potential of mystery shopping in Australian retail sector. The outcome of the research could be utilized in the future research project, based on the same subject. Previously, not many research studies have been made on the mystery shopping. Therefore, the contribution of this research would surely facilitate researcher to develop the future project. 

Proposed Research Methods:

Research process:

Diverse research areas will be analyzed in this particular section. A suitable research method will be used. The justification of the selection of research method will be provided. The researcher will employ both qualitative and quantitative research methods for this research. For the data collection, the researcher will conduct an online survey and face-to-face interview. A wide range of issues of data accessibilities will be discussed briefly. 

Research methods and Data collection:

Two types of research methods include qualitative and quantitative methods. In the quantitative research method, the researcher collects numerical data and interprets them to quantify the issue of the research (Kuada, 2012).  With the help of accumulated information, the researcher collects measurable information and formulates facts. There are several methods of collecting quantitative data. Using survey questionnaires is the most used process to collect quantitative information. For accumulating quantitative information, the researcher utilizes a set of survey questionnaires related to the research topic. However, the researcher also uses other processes to collect quantitative data, such as online polls, face-to-face interviews, and systematic observations (Savin-Baden & Major, 2013). 

On the other hand, qualitative research method permits the researcher to use a predefined set of questions to collect detailed information regarding the research topic. In the qualitative method, the interview process is a most used technique to collect information from the selected participants (Taylor, Bogdan & DeVault, 2015). Through the interview process, the researcher can discover the beliefs, views and experiences of participants. There are different types of interview, such as structured interview, semi-structured, unstructured and focus group interview. 

For this research project, the researcher will utilize both qualitative and quantitative methods, as it will facilitate in developing a detailed analysis of the research topic. In order to accumulate quantitative research information, survey questionnaires will be distributed to the respondents via an online platform. The researcher will use the structured interview to accumulate qualitative information from the selected participants. The online survey will be carried out in order to allow respondents to participants in the process, regardless of their locations. Another reason to select online survey is to accomplish the research within the given small timeline (Panneerselvam, 2014). 

The accumulation of the qualitative data will be executed through a structured interview, wherein the participants will have to share information within the given timeline. It can be assessed that the use of mixed research method (both qualitative and quantitative) would contribute to the development of a detailed analysis of how mystery shopping work in Australian retail industry. 

Sampling

There are two types of sampling techniques including probability sampling and non-probability sampling (Neuman, 2013). For this research assignment, the researcher will utilize the non-probability sampling technique to select respondents and participants explicitly. In this research, the small size of the sample will be used in order to accumulate a huge amount of data within a small timeline. In most of the cases, the researcher encounter challenges in completing the collection of primary data within the short deadline. 50 mystery shoppers of a particular market research company will be selected as respondents for the online survey process. It is essential for the researcher to ensure that the selected respondents have gathered adequate experience in mystery shopping. 

Non-probability sampling will be used to select the interview participants for this research. The use of non-probability sampling would facilitate the researcher to accumulate the precise information for this research (Miller et al., 2012). The researcher will approach 4 managers of the market research company to participate in the structured interview and share their valuable experience and information.

The response rate will be set at 45%. 110 survey questionnaires will be distributed through an online platform. Out of 110 survey questionnaires, the researcher will collect 40 answered questionnaires. In order to design and distribution of the survey questionnaires to the respondents, the researcher will use Google Forms. 

Data sources and accessibility issues:

There are two sources of data including primary data and secondary data. For this research project, the research will utilise the primary data in order to develop an analysis of the research topic. Primary data can be accumulated through diverse techniques, including experiments, surveys, observations etc. On the other hand, some of the common sources for collecting the secondary data include books, journals, websites etc.

 One of the key rationales to choose primary data for this research is that it is more reliable, authentic and objective than that of secondary data (Matthews & Ross, 2010). The researcher will utilize primary data, as the validity of the primary information is greater than secondary information. With the help of primary data, the researcher would discover new findings of the research based on the role of mystery shopping in enhancing customer service in Australian retail sector. 

As mentioned earlier, online survey and structured interview will be used to accumulate primary data from the respondents and selected participants. The key reason to select the online platform for the survey is that it would facilitate in accumulating a large amount of data within a small timeline. The researcher will use the structured interview to develop an in-depth analysis of the role of mystery shopping in Australian retail sector. 

Using primary data provides several benefits to the researcher. For instance, by using primary data, the researcher can assess the target problem related to the project. The researcher also gets a great control in using primary source of data. If the primary data is used in the research, then the interpretation of the data can also be made effectively. During the analysis of the topic, the researcher might encounter different problems that can be avoided by employing primary data.

Even though the primary data has several benefits, it could create accessibility challenges for the researcher (Mackey & Gass, 2015). Collecting primary data is a time-consuming method. However, the researcher, in this research, will accumulate primary data within a limited time. Another challenge is that the researcher needs to spend adequate financial resources to collect primary data from diverse sources. It has been seen that the researcher often accumulates imprecise feedback from the participants and respondents during the data collection. The researcher will ensure that the data collection will take place only if the respondents and participants give their full consent. Budget and time constraints would create difficulties for the researcher to accomplish the research work effectively (Choy, 2014). For the accomplishment of the data collection within a limited timeline and restricted budget, the researcher will use small sample size. 

Ethical considerations and practical implications:

The researcher will ensure respect and dignity for respondents and participants throughout the collection of the data. As discussed earlier, it is essential for the researcher to involve participants and respondents in the structured interview and survey process after taking their full consent. The privacy of the collected information is the most significant ethical aspect of the research (Flick, 2015). The researcher will ensure that the collected information will not be used for other purposes in any circumstances. The confidentiality of the collected research data will be ensured on top priority. 

The researcher will ensure the anonymity of the participants and respondents. Transparent and open communication will be used while collecting the data for this research. The researcher will behave polity with the participants. Giving any misleading information to the respondents and participants for taking their consent is a violation of ethical guideline (Greysen, Kind & Chretien 2010). The researcher will ensure that the findings of the data will be presented in an unbiased way. For protecting information accumulated from different primary sources, the researcher will adhere to the Data Protection Act 1998. The feasibility of time, as well as resources, will be analyzed in detailed. 

Research design limitations

Due to the lack of experience, the researcher could encounter challenges in collecting data from primary sources effectively. Besides this, the small sample size could also affect the outcome of the research. The researcher, in this research, will utilize small sample size, because of which the assessment of significant relationship between the statistical tests and selected set of data might get affected. The use of small sample size could also create data validity issues in the research (Lewis, 2015). 

The researcher might get biased responses from the respondents. The key reason to get biased responses from the participants and respondents is the use of non-probability sampling technique (Flick, 2015). The biased responses could also affect the validity and reliability of the research. Another key concern is that a very few research studies have been conducted on this particular subject area. Hence, the researcher would encounter issues to get valid information on the topic. Time and budget constraints could also affect the research study. 

Conclusion:

In conclusion, it can be assessed that the research design discussed in this assignment will facilitate in developing an in-depth analysis of the research topic. For this research, the researcher has used both qualitative and quantitative research methods. With the online survey, the researcher will accumulate quantitative information from the respondents. The participants, on the other hand, will share information and knowledge about the research topic in the structured interview. The researcher will ensure that the entire research will be conducted within the ethical guideline. 

In future, the researcher could select a relevant research topic, such as challenges of mystery shopping in assessing the key development areas of customer service in the retail sectors in Australia.  Even though the mystery shopping plays a key role in improving customer service in Australian retail sector, there may be some key issues involved with the particular process of measuring the quality of customer service. As a very few research papers have been developed on the same subject, the outcome of this particular research would facilitate the researcher to gain their knowledge of mystery shopping and carry out further research on the relevant subject. 

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