Our digital journey: moving to electronic questionnaires

Jason Bradbury at the Office for National Statistics (UK): “Earlier this year we shared news about the Retail Sales Inquiry (RSI) – the monthly national survey of shops and shopping –  moving to digital data collection. ONS is transforming the way it collects data, improving the speed and quality of the information while reducing the burden on respondents. The past six months has seen a significant expansion of our digital survey availability. In January 5,000 retailers were invited to sign-up for an account giving them the option to send us their data  for one of our business surveys digitally.

Electronic questionnaires

The take-up of the electronic questionnaire (eQ) was incredible with over 80% of respondents choosing to supply their information for the RSI online. Overt the last six months, we have continued to see the appetite for online completion grow. Each month, an average of 300 new businesses opt to return their Retail Sales data digitally with many eager to move to digital methods for the other surveys they are required to complete….

Moving data collection from the phone and paper to online has been a huge success delivering improved quality, an ‘easy  to access’ online experience and when thinking about the impact this change could  have had on our core function as a statistical body, I am delighted to share that we have not witnessed any statistical issues and all of outputs have been compiled and produced as normal.

Put simply, the easier it is for someone to complete our surveys, the more likely they are to take the time to provide more detailed accurate data. It is worth noting that once a business has an account with ONS they often send back data to us quicker. The earlier and more detailed responses allow us more time to quality assure (QA) the information and reduce the need to re-contact the businesses.

Our digital journey

The digital world is a fast paced and an ever changing environment. We have found it challenging to match this pace in both our team’s skill base and our digital service. We are in the process of up-skilling our teams and updating our data collection service and infrastructure. This will enable us to improve our data collection service and move even more surveys online….(More)”