Mystery Shopping and the Rising Role of the Employee in the Digital Retail Environment
Feb 01, 2013 by Confero Inc.
Retailers with brick and mortar stores face a unique challenge: Customers who visit their stores to merely view a product, and then leave. After visiting the store, these browsing customers go online to purchase the same item rather than making the purchase in the store. Even with efforts from trained associates, selling to these customers is difficult at best. Despite this phenomenon (called showrooming), the importance of human touch in retail environments lives on. In fact, 82% of retailers in a recent survey said that the role of employees in the workforce toward building better service has become even more important over the past three years.
Companies develop ways to combat online competition and strive to provide great in-person service, through new tools and training for associates. For example, for customers who browse the store and uses Iphones to price compare, some companies arm employees with the ability to price match. They train employees on when to offer price matching and how to process the price match transaction. Training is most effective when you can measure its
effectiveness and test it, and that’s where retail mystery shopping comes in. Over the years, we’ve partnered with retail companies to provide an extra set of eyes in the field. Mystery shops and audits are flexible and help m
anagement delve into specific associate training areas, for example, how employees overcome objections from a “showrooming” customer.
Other examples of how retail mystery shopping helps managers know what is going on the field include:
- Grocery store mystery shops to learn if associates greet customers when they are within a certain number of feet from an associate
- Retail sports store visits, to determine if associates are knowledgeable and suggest a Rewards program
- Jewelry store mystery shops, to learn if associates follow a very specific sales process
- Competitor store shops, to gather information on how the competition presents products
The scenarios above can also include measures to learn how associates work with new trends, for example a shopper who poses as someone price comparing with a mobile device. How do associates respond when the shopper shows them an online offer while in the store? Mystery shops offer this information and more, to help managers manage digital and other trends.