How to perform a mystery shopper’s program in Retail?

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As a retailer, the mystery shopper’s program is a very useful quality assurance tool that will reflect back to you how your customers live the shopping experience inside your shops. This program can be linked to all store executions and operations.

To put the right mystery shopper’s program for your stores, you will have to draft the KPIs that you are aiming to achieve on a daily basis at your stores. Those can be linked to your customer’s journey, your merchandising, products presentation, your goods, your staff, ..etc

As part of the retail management team field’s visit, the stores and the staff customers service will always seem to be up to the standards. Well sometimes, the stores staff will act very professionally when the management is present at the store or when they are noticed in advance that a management’s visit will take place. The Mystery shopper’s program will get you the reality of what’s really happening in your store as the auditors performing those audits aren’t members of your organization.

The two key main elements of a mystery shopper’s program are:

1-The Retail Audit:

Under this section, we will assess the real customer’s visit look and feel and how enjoyable the shopping experience was. Your auditor will be visiting anonymously your store and feeding you up with the standards assessment. Below some elements assessed in this area:

-Is the store front clean?

-Is the store applying the promotional tags linked to the current promotion?

-Was the corporate approved music playing?

-Was the current approved planogram applied?

-Was the floor clean?

-Was the place too cold or too hot?

Under the retail audit section, we assess the shopping environment and what customer’s experience before and after entering the store.

2-The Retail Staff audit:

Under this section, we will be assessing the most important element of the mystery shopper’s program: YOUR STAFF. Below some of the quality assurance elements that we would like to see in an outstanding store:

-Staff presence: The first element when you enter a shop as customer, you want to feel acknowledge by the store staff. This is usually done through greeting, or just a smile if the retail Reps are busy serving other customers.

Staff Grooming: As part of your store standards, you want to make sure that all your staff are following your grooming guidelines. For example, wearing the store uniform, make up, hair presentation…etc. This step is usually defined by each brand depending on the products that you are selling. The staff grooming standards of a luxury car showroom is different from a store selling kids toys. You have to define what’s the best image of your staff that you want it to be reflected, create a grooming guideline and that will be your base of the assessment when performing this program.

-The needs: Once you get the chance to interact with one of the retail reps, you want to feel as an auditor/customer that the store Rep is doing his/her best to understand your needs and get you the right product that fits those needs.  

-Your staff products knowledge: Customers will always feel how knowledgeable is the seller. This step will develop customer’s confidence in a purchase decision. Under this step, you can assess both the product knowledge of a specific rep as well his/her engagement during the sales process.

-The experience: during this step, the auditor will assess the efforts done by the sales rep to create the best product experience. For example, if the customer is shopping for a smart TV, the sales Rep will demonstrate the favorite customer’s apps on the TV. If the customer is shopping for a fashion item, the sales rep will deliver a full set of products that will increase the products trial and increase the experience value.

The closing: The purchasing phase at the cashier’s counter is a crucial step in driving excellence in a customer’s journey. Some of the luxury fashion brands are focusing more and more on this step as it drives customer’s self-appreciation. A very good choice sir/ma’am, it was a pleasure having you at our store today sir/ma’am. Phrases like this makes the customer feel happy with their choice and will build an emotional link with the store and the brand and this is what motivates shoppers to come back.

The mystery shopper’s program can be used as well as a tool to either review the store processes and your way of delivering customers service as well as a good compensation and motivation tool to reward the best stores and the best Sales Reps.

Author: Jalal JIHAZI
(Global Retail TV Director)

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