Mystery Shopper: the new frontier in retail shopping

The Datalogic pod Joya will soon become a technological protagonist of a consumption survey

It is known that, especially in the moments of economical downturn, the contingent situation leads to the creation of alternative solutions for doing business. Thus, new job types, work modalities and occupational forms are created, that are ideal for long or short periods of time.

 

Lately, the Mystery Shopper has been highlighted by the media. This is a profession, independent for certain points, that is being spread by means of internet or word of mouth.

 

Even if the boom of this new occupation is rather recent, its origins date back to the 40's, when some bank, insurance agency or store employees in US were trained in order to search for theft and fraud by internal employees of the enterprise.

 

In the course of time the situation has evolved not only in relation to the changed scenario of consumption and economical and commercial prospective, but also in relation to the communication devices and innovative study approach to marketing dynamics.

 

Thus, a modern figure of the Mystery Shopper was born. A Mystery Shopper is a person who, due to his/her age, tendencies and lifestyle, represents the average consumer. He/she is usually selected by special survey agencies often hired by large retail chains, shopping centers and service companies and firms dealing in free time business. The Mystery Shopper researches and makes enquiries in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of these companies.
In simple words, we can say that the Mystery Shopper collects customers' impressions. However, is this data reliable? Considering its nature, we would say it is not. In any case, further research is needed.

 

"It is necessary to take in consideration that a consumption survey begins with "hard" information, which is solid, tangible information that is immediately available for retailers - explains Luigi Frison, marketing manager at Datalogic Mobile EBS. Such information may be, for example, loyalty card data, purchase value, the number of purchases or information relative to the choice of promotional or non promotional goods. This important information can be also qualified as neutral, where the essential values refer to the numeric and economical parameters for further analysis by the experts in this area. On the other hand, these results lack fundamental information relative to the emotional sphere of the customers, which can be considered "soft" data. Such information is absent. In other words, personal sensations present not only during the shopping experience when the customer enters a store, but also before that, when the customer is at home, and decides to select a certain store for shopping needs rather than another one, knowing that only in that very store are the necessary goods, but also a right mixture of politeness, assistance, quickness and reliability that also continues after the purchase."
These considerations are confirmed if we analyze, from the one hand, a new consumer who is attentive, sensible, demanding finds difficulty in becoming a devoted customer and loves to try new things (so called "trysumer"); and on the other hand, more and more catchy company proposals become solid. Those proposals are studied to transform the purchase into a "purchase experience", considered to be a positive moment of the day and not a useless loss of time.
"The discovery platform can be used when comparing the "hard" and "soft" data, making it complete and heterogeneous at the same time" - declares the marketing manager at Datalogic, "thanks to this platform a retailer can completely understand his/her strengths and weaknesses and act accordingly."

 

Pampering the customers makes a real difference, but in order to understand how it influences consumer preferences, it is also necessary to use perceptions as human detectors, so called Mystery Shoppers.

 

"Service and assistance modernity is, without any doubt, one of the cornerstones improving the pleasantness and preferences of the store" - comments Frison, "and from this point of view, Datalogic offers its Joya, a pod providing interactive and intelligent shopping, able to assist the customer in his/her choice of goods, informing about eventual promotions, and constantly updating the purchase value until arriving at the check-out point. An instrument that becomes a game and assures a fast, easy and fun shopping experience. Joya has a triple functionality: it represents a plus for the store, it can be a suitable survey instrument used by "detective customers" and even a future Mystery Shopper. In fact, this pod offers some applications able to give useful information about the services offered by a store, but it is also possible to add further features, improving the registration of the information necessary for the survey. It is necessary to underline that Joya's versatility allows the store to get to know its customers personally, as well as their preferences and tendencies and enter directly into contact with the "soft" data that is so useful and difficult to find."

 

In case the analysis goes further, the Mystery Shopper report also offers important data which can evaluate if all the essential solutions are active and support the customer retention, which is essential if we think about the data given by recent studies (the cost of a new customer acquisition is ten times higher than the maintenance cost of the same customer). Furthermore, a non-satisfied customer tends to tell about his negative shopping experience to another five people (Word of Mouth negative marketing).

 

"Joya, without any doubt, is a purchase instrument that make consumers become devoted customers of the store" - remarks Frison, "and it is possible to prove this, comparing some data of the stores where Datalogic's pods were installed: sales were improved by an average of 10-15% (sometimes even 30%) and customer retention was tripled. Keeping this in consideration, I believe this is a handy technology, a service for a prompt point of view, close to a daily one."