What are Mystery Shoppers Looking for in a Retail Store?


There are approximately 50,000 mystery shopping jobs every month in the UK, according to the Mystery Shopping Providers Association. A mystery shopper is someone who visits a retail store or other business under the guide of being a customer, so that they can observe the quality of their interaction there. Mystery shoppers might check into a hotel, buy a product from a store, call a customer service line with a problem or complete some other type of transaction.

While they are doing this they will be specifically looking for details such as how quickly they were served, how well the employee handled the transaction, how clean the store front is, how well the products are displayed and whether or not employees offered relevant promotions. This information will be compiled into a report which will then be sent back to the company so that they know in which areas they need to improve.
So when a mystery shopper or mystery shopping agency visits a business, what are they usually looking for? Here are some of the common things that a mystery shopper is looking for when they investigate a location while posing as a customer:
Attractiveness of Displays
One of the important factors that they will consider is whether the displays of the merchandise are attractive and appealing. If they are untidy, falling over, unorganised or unclean this doesn’t present the merchandise in the most attractive way, which will negatively affect sales. Also there might be certain ways that the merchandise should be presented so that it fits with the brand, so the mystery shopper will also be looking at this.
Cleanliness of the Store
The mystery shopper will be looking at how clean the store is, because this makes an important impression on the customer when they first walk in. They will be looking for whether or not the floors are clean, the restrooms have been maintained recently and the store smells clean and fresh. A dirty and disgusting restroom or a slippery floor can be major negatives in the eyes of the customers, so checking on the cleanliness of the store is very important.
Is the Store Well-Stocked?
Another thing that a mystery shopper will evaluate is whether or not the store is well stocked. Are the shelves full or do they have a lot of empty spaces? Are the coolers full of beverages? If the store sells clothing, are there a lot of empty spaces in the displays or are they well balanced?
How Do Employees Engage With Customers?
When the employees interact with customers, are they friendly? Do they smile and greet the customer in a pleasant way, or do they come across apathetic and rude? When the mystery shopper asks a question, does the employee respond in a helpful way? The way that employees engage with customers is very important and it makes a big difference in the experience of shopping at that retail location, so it is crucial for the mystery shopper to report back on this aspect of their experience.
Are Employees Behaving?
Another aspect that the mystery shopper might spot is whether or not employees are behaving as they should be within the store. The mystery shopper might spot the employees talking to each other instead of working, eating and drinking during their shift, sitting on their phone, going against store policy or breaking the rules in some other way. The employees assume that they can do this when the manager is not around, but the mystery shopper will put this information in their report. It is important for the employer to know, so that they can give the correct disciplinary measures to their employees and encourage the right types of behaviours on the job. Of course, it is important that mystery shopping doesn’t become a “trap” to catch employees doing something wrong, it should be seen as a positive way to improve performance.
These are just a few of the things that mystery shoppers look for when they are visiting a retail location. The mystery shopper might also look for specific things that the company has asked them to look for, such as whether or not a promotion is being followed, etc. These specific details to look for will be discussed in advance when the mystery shopper makes their field marketing plans with the company owner.
Mystery shoppers can be a great way to get a glimpse of the performance of your retail location from an objective perspective. These shoppers are able to spot ways that you can improve your business that you might not have noticed, so that you can work toward continued success. Not only that but if there are specific things you want looked at then all you need do is talk with your mystery shopper or agency.


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