Many brands use mystery shoppers to help them research how their product is performing in stores.

These mystery shoppers interact with salespeople at retail locations, examine retail execution and then report information about what the experience was like. Usually the shopper gets a payment or free products in exchange for their services. While some companies pour a lot of money and energy into mystery shopping, it’s not the most effective way to get data about your company.

The Truth About Mystery Shopping

Mystery shoppers are as much of a mystery to you, the company, as they are to the stores and brands they are checking in on. Most mystery shoppers have no retail experience and aren’t invested in the standards that you might consider important. Mystery shoppers are being paid to view their shopping experience with a critical eye and could have a negative bias from the start rather than an openness to objectively examine company performance.

Mystery shoppers, if they are going to work at all, need to have retail experience in order to understand the retail industry. They also need to understand the brand or business they are critiquing as well as sales and marketing collateral.

Misallocation of Funds

In order to train mystery shoppers to properly understand your company objectives, you’re going to have to shell out a lot more cash toward a training program that aligns them with your motives. This kind of expense is hard to justify when you already have a team of people you are paying to understand what makes your customers happy.

Why Not Tap Into Your Existing Network For Data?

Your funds and extensive training programs have already been applied toward your team members. By having your team members visit the stores instead of the mystery shoppers, you are saving time and money on training. While they are “mystery shopping,” they will be doing so with an informed agenda and a more positive yet also more accurately-critical approach.

Find Problems? Fix Them.

It’s worrisome to get a report from a mystery shopper that things aren’t properly executed at a certain retail location. Getting this same report from a team member, however, is extremely helpful. A mystery shopper hands information to you while a team member will know what the problem is and can start the process of fixing it.

Real-Time Data

Sending a team member out to retail locations provides you with real-time data that can dramatically improve retail execution. Mystery shoppers, on the other hand, don’t necessarily provide real-time data because they don’t have access to field management software. Rather, they collect data that is cataloged and sent to various parties, creating a snapshot of information that may not even be accurate by the time it reaches the management team.

Relying on your team for information instead of on mystery shoppers means that you have a group of dedicated field team members who have a vested interest in your company’s well-being rather than a scattered group of individuals who are providing short-sighted info. Consider relying on your team members by sending them out in place of mystery shoppers and, chances are, you will see huge improvements in the quality of your retail execution insights.

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