Knowing Our Stores: Mystery Shopper

In an increasingly competitive environment, we need to constantly improve our stores and offer a high-quality service to the customer according to their expectations. By adding a ‘plus’ to these same expectations, our stores can make a difference and increase repeat visits. This is where a mystery shopper comes in.

What is a Mystery Shopper?

According to the Collins dictionary, a mystery shopper is someone hired to pose as a customer and report on the quality of service received and how well a store or chain of stores is being run:

  • The mystery shopper poses as a normal customer and is given a specific task, such as purchasing a particular product or asking certain questions.
  • Mystery shoppers may check on any aspect of the customer experience, from sales presentations to how well displays are maintained to in-home service calls.
  • A mystery shopper is someone hired to pose as a customer and report on the quality of service received and how well a store or chain of stores is being run.

As managers of shops, by inertia, looking at our own company becomes similar to looking at a landscape, missing many details and improvements we could make. If we switch the looking glass from retailers to customers, we will draw many daily opportunities for improvement. “Retail is Detail”, and in the details is where our difference will be. As a personal example, in my residential area, on the same block, there are two stores that have practically the same products on their shelves exhibitors. One, always full of customers, while the other, lives just crowds of people are buying.

Our tendency is to go directly to sites where we see commercial movement, because this indirectly speaks well of the store, while it will be the opposite with the store that is always empty.

As a Retailer, I decided one day to go into the store that hardly had any customers, and that’s where all my suspicions began to settle. The store began with the fruit and vegetable section, where the quality and freshness of its products were conspicuous by their absence. The order and cleanliness of this store had many deficiencies. Already in these two simple details they were losing against the store that lives full of customers, since, despite these crowds of people, it always lives clean and with fresh products of the day.

The Customer service was also very deficient since both the employees and the store supervisor were more aware of their cell phones than of the customer’s demands. The prices of both stores, hardly without differences, but while the winning store offers free home delivery service, personal lockers, and daily product tastings, the other did not have these additional services that also make a difference. As a result of all these details, sadly, if there is no quick reaction, I am not giving this store long to live.

The Mystery Shopper is currently a great solution for all these improvement opportunities. A Mystery Shopper is a Retail professional who, posing as a store customer, will detect all those negative and improvement points in each of our stores. He will detect “black spots” before customer dissatisfaction has occurred as, once the bad image effect has occurred, it is very difficult to reverse it. He will carry out an objective quality of service measurement, in which times are timed, procedures are monitored, etc., controlling compliance with company policies.

A mystery shopper is the only way to seek excellence since customers only demand what they know or what they consider logical, without surprises of any kind.

The audit carried out by the mystery shopper will be one of the main pillars that must provide information to guarantee an adequate quality of service. The other is made up of the purchase satisfaction studies that will be carried out to customers at the store exit.