Are you planning on spending more when Brexit is resolved?

On 23 June 2016, the UK popped the question that had rumbled under the surface of British politics for a generation: should the country remain within the European Union or end its 40-year membership and go it alone? 52% of voters opted for Brexit. Since that point, despite two and half years of negotiation, the situation seems to have reached a stalemate that is causing tremendous uncertainty in the UK.

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What now for in-store shopping?

We have seen a lot of discussion in the press recently over the roles of various shopping channels and the future of the entire shopping experience. It’s a fact that there seems to have been a real gear shift in terms of online shopping. The headline ‘the death of the high-street’ has been bandied about with the growth of online shopping being cited as signalling the end of shopping as we traditionally know it. Here at Retail Maxim we thought it would be interesting to understand the motivations of UK shoppers who still shop in-store, such as how frequently they are shopping and what motivates them to shop in-store. Our aim is to get a bit more perspective on the situation.

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Do we still visit shopping centres?

It’s clear to all retail professionals that online shopping is showing huge growth. The convenience, competitive pricing and speed which online shopping offers appeals to lots of us.  We have previously discussed how this affects stand alone retailers but it also begs the question of whether it affects shopping centres.

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Should we be worried about Department Stores?

There have been many reports in the news lately about the High Street and how various retailers, such as House of Fraser, Poundworld, Toys R Us and Maplin (to name a few), are suffering from high street woes. But how has this news affected consumers?

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Why is using a mystery shopping service important?

What importance does mystery shopping hold today?

As we all know, mystery shopping is process of going into a physical store and evaluating the overall performance of the employees. The mystery shopper goes in pretending to be a simple shopper, visiting the store for the purpose of purchasing an item. This shopper is either employed by the store or an external company, assessing the employee performance and submitting a report.

There’s no specific requirements essential to become a mystery shopper, as you don’t need to hold a certain appearance, qualification or manner, you’re simply blending in with all of the other shoppers. Those who hold a massive flair and passion for the field will enhance the levels of customer service in the store and these people are requested highly in the service.

Although being a mystery shopper is incredibly fun, it’s good to remember that mystery shopping is still a serious business, one that’s clearly structured to aid the service of stores around the world. It’s important to hold a few traits in order to deal with the mystery shopping process, like reliability, professionalism and levels of trust you can offer a company. Apart from these traits, you should remember that shoppers should have a way of transportation, literate skills and good memory.

Mystery shoppers don't require specific traits
Mystery shoppers don’t require specific traits

The stores that use mystery shopping are using this to massively boost their sales by improving their levels of customer satisfaction through improved customer service. Mystery shoppers are hired in order to increase the sales of the store by giving employees pointers on how to improve their performance. The service is not only useful for evaluating the performance of the staff, it’s also vital for checking the service available to customers from their business rivals. You can compare the two levels of customer service to find areas that need improvement or changing. This allows the problems to be rectified faster than usual, increasing the number of customers visiting the store through word of mouth recommendations, boosting the sales massively for businesses nationwide.

Before considering hiring a mystery shopping service, you should take a look at the existing level of service that’s already in place at the business. This will give you an insight into what needs boosting in your business, so doing your own research is good preparation for the shopping service. If you conduct an audit of the employees, you’ll be sure to receive a look into their work performance, but don’t tell them about the incoming mystery shopper service. Doing so will affect the results, as they’ll be extra alert in their service, causing inaccuracies in the findings.

So, what do you think? Would you be interested in a mystery shopping service?

If you are, please visit our website here or call us on 0844 875 5505 for more info!

Are you listening?

An indepth look into mystery shopping

By Robert Brocklesby BSc

I get asked all the time by clients, how can we ensure that a higher percentage of our customers make purchases? My answer is always the same: you must first ask your customers why they are not purchasing, understand what wants and needs you are not fulfilling, and act.

Reports indicate that anywhere from 50 – 82% of customers leave retail stores without purchasing. For most retailers, increasing the percentage of purchasing customers by a very attainable 5% could make a tremendous difference to the bottom line. The example I always site runs as follows: if 50% of a store’s 200 daily customers typically make purchases, and this store’s average sale per customer is £40, raising the store’s purchase rate to 55% (only 10 more purchasers per day) would equate to an additional £400/day and £146,000 annually. If that store was part of a 100-store chain, and they all raised their purchase rates from 50% to 55%, the additional annual sales would equate to almost £15 million!

I truly believe that in an age where customers willingly share their experiences with family, friends and the social media world it’s not surprising that they may be just as willing to share their thoughts, experiences and preferences , if asked, with retailers.

This is where Retail Maxim’s ‘Real Customer Surveys’ can help. Both Exit Surveys as well as ‘Online’ based surveys consult ‘real’ customers who have either bought or not, with a focused questionnaire to discover their views.

Retail Maxim’s surveys are an effective form of gauging Real Customers’ honest thoughts and opinions. We also charge a fraction of the price compared to other Market Research companies who often create lengthy, complex surveys which can aggravate customers. So, are you reading this and need to know the answers to the following sorts of questions?

  • What are your customers’ unfulfilled needs?
  • Why are customers leaving your locations without purchasing?
  • Are your promotional materials bringing customers in and making an impact?
  • Where else are your customers shopping and why?
  • What do customers think about your new concept store?
  • And much, much more…

If the answer is ‘yes’ then call Retail Maxim today to discuss how we can help.

Robert Brocklesby BSc

Joint Managing Director at Retail Maxim Ltd

How can mystery shoppers improve your customer service?

Mystery shoppers can give you a service unlike no other, but why use it?

Mystery shoppers are, quite simply, those who carry out the services of improving customer service for companies across the world. Acting as a customer, they test the customer service department as some form of auditor. Mystery shoppers worldwide carry out tasks at the places of business, on a company’s website or simply over the phone.

Unlike most real customers, these mystery shopping professionals are trained to look for specific qualities in the customer service that they’re analysing. They measure the qualities in your customer service representatives, offering feedback on the level of customer service that they receive, giving suggestions that raise the bar on customer satisfaction levels.

With these handy tips below, we help you determine whether mystery shopping is a step in the right direction for your business:

 What are the benefits of mystery shopping?

Before you sign up for a mystery shopping programme, you should consider what the benefits would be to your company. Work out what exactly you’d like to reap from the process. Some of the benefits of mystery shopping vary, but here’s what’s included:

• A different perspective! You’ll gain the ability to view your business through the eyes of the customer, learning just what your clients think of you at first impression. This is the only way to gain this perspective, as trying to gain this from someone within your company won’t convey as effectively.

• An overview of your customer service! A gifted mystery shopper can tell you what exactly works in your customer service programme and what doesn’t, allowing you to make the relevant changes.

• A spot on evaluation of what your customer service offers. Mystery shoppers will display whether your employees offer a valuable customer service experience, allowing your employees to earn the correct skills, providing a positive impression on your clients.

Mystery shoppers can accurately assess the state of your customer service, finding which area of your customer service should be corrected in your customer experience. This allows for you to fine tune any deficiencies that exist in your staff training.

Mystery shopping is of great importance to customer service
Mystery shopping is of great importance to customer service

Starting a mystery shopper program

Given the benefits above sound like something you’d wish to incorporate into your customer service experience, it’s time to start your mystery shopping program! Take these steps in order to get ready for the experience:

• Tell your employees that you are starting the program, just to make sure that they don’t feel blindsided after the program takes place. Tell them it’s not something they’re doing wrong, rather a training tool for could be used to raise the level of service offered by your staff.

• Discover what you want to get out of the mystery shopping service. Setting particular benchmarks will allow for you to monitor just how well your program is going.

• Find out which mystery shopping service will best meet all of your needs and budgets. For example, you can hire a larger company that can operate in a number of outlets nationwide but this isn’t exactly necessary if you have just one store.

Mystery shopping can be used as one of the most effective ways to evaluate your current state of customer service that’s available to your audience. A professional in the mystery shopper service will give your company guidance in ways to raise the standards of your employees, giving you a level of service that pleases all.

For more on mystery shopping programs, please visit our website.