Mystery Shopping

This criteria lends itself to products rather than services.

Mystery Shopping provides objective quantitative and qualitative feedback about a consumer’s experience. This can help businesses determine whether their products, stock, pricing and operations are appealing to consumers and if their competitors are providing a better service. It can also serve to evaluate the service quality within the company. Mystery Shopping is useful because it is not necessary to get the subjects’ cooperation, and the subjects’ behaviour will not be affected by the presence of the researcher.

Before the Mystery Shopping assignment begins, a questionnaire should be drawn up and agreed upon. It should clearly define what the client company is looking for and what they wish to measure. Once you have determined what is to be measured, you must then determine what type of evaluation method is to be used. After completing the Mystery Shopping process, the Mystery shopper will fill out the questionnaire. Many questions will simply require a yes/no answer, however when considering something like ‘how straightforward a checkout process is’, a qualitative response is required. This qualitative response could then be converted to a mark out of ten in order to rank a business against its competitors.

What to look for when Mystery Shopping?

  • the types of products available
  • the sales arguments used by the company
  • the process of purchasing the product (this may be online or over the phone)
  • whether the process of purchasing is straightforward
  • the time between choosing a product and checkout
  • the cost of delivery (express post may be available)
  • the shipping suppliers available
  • whether a warranty is provided (if so how long does the warranty last?)
  • whether shipping information and method is provided
  • whether add-ons are suggested at the checkout stage
  • the payment methods available
  • the confirmation method once the transaction is complete

For online purchases

  • Is a log in required?
  • Can you sign up for a permanent online account so some or all of your information only needs to be entered once?
  • Are help links provided?
  • Is there a phone number you can call for assistance?
  • Is your personal information protected/what is the company’s privacy policy?

For over the phone purchases

  • How many line transfers occurred?
  • Was the person on the other end easy to understand, helpful, knowledgeable and professional?
  • Did you have to repeat your order and/or personal details multiple times?

After your Mystery Shopper has made their purchase, it is important to consider

  • the time between checkout and delivery
  • any delays and if so, why?
  • when they take payment
  • whether you hear from the company before/after delivery, if yes, what did they say?

A product audit should be completed once the product has arrived. This simply refers to the evaluation of the product against the standards defined by the client. A product audit includes

  • packaging assessment – Are there any defects such as dents, scuffs or missing codes?
  • product assessment – Are there any breakages/is the product faulty? Did the product come with instructions, installation hints etc?