After exhausting the available secondary data, a defined issue may still be unresolved. In this instance, primary data (collected to resolve a specific topic at hand) are needed. When secondary data are sufficient, primary data are not collected. There are several advantages associated with primary data:
They are collected to fit the retailers specific purpose.
Information is current.
The units of measure and data categories are designed for the issue being studied.
The firm either collects data itself or hires an outside party. The source is known and controlled, and the methodology is constructed for the specific study.
There are no conflicting data from different sources.
When secondary data do not resolve an issue, primary data are the only alternative.
There are also several possible disadvantages often associated with primary data:
They are normally more expensive to obtain than secondary data, for example they need invest much on the point of sale hardware and software.
Information gathering tends to be more time consuming.
Some types of information cannot be acquired by an individual firm.
If only primary data are collected, the perspective may be limited.
Irrelevant information may be collected if the issue is not stated clearly enough.
In sum, a retailer has many criteria to weigh in evaluating the use of primary data. In particular, specificity, currency, and reliability must be weighed against high costs, time, and limited access to materials. A variety of primary data sources for retailers are discussed next.