Mystery Shopping

Definition:

 In this method, data collection is done through a secret buyer; This person puts himself in the position of a real buyer and tries to evaluate the customer’s experience in different ways (in person, on the phone or online). By using the Mystery Shopping method, it is possible to evaluate things such as the availability of products, the way the store personnel provide services, the level of knowledge of the store personnel, etc. Perhaps at first glance, the nature of this method is more suitable for internal evaluations; In fact, brands try to measure their performance in stores through Mystery Shopping. But this method can also be used to evaluate competitors. In addition, comparing the performance of the brand with the competitors can show the strength of the presence of the brand in comparison with the competitors and what are the strengths and weaknesses in this regard.

Is the mystery shopping method quantitative or qualitative?

Generally, data collection methods in market research are placed in one of the quantitative or qualitative categories. But in connection with the Mystery Shopping method, both types can be assigned. Usually, in the initial surveys, in order to discover deep knowledge of the customer’s experience, this method qualitatively collects various information. But in the following, the method of collecting information can be designed in a structured way and in the form of questionnaires with closed questions, and the required information can be collected in predetermined intervals.

Advantages:

This method is considered as an attractive and efficient method in data collection. For example, the interaction that is established in this method of collecting information with stores or their personnel is completely natural. This advantage helps to collect data away from any bias. In addition, the level of flexibility in this method makes it possible for this method to be efficient in different projects, depending on the set goals. Depending on the purpose of the data collection, this method can be done in person, over the phone, or online. Also, in this method, you can get various information about competitors. Some of this information is only available in store and only through Mystery Shopping.

In general, mystery shopping is done in one of the following two styles:

  • Predetermined questions: In this method, based on the set goals, a scenario is determined and the secret shopper gathers information according to the established instructions. Usually, in such a case, an evaluation form is provided to the mystery shopper and he fills out the form based on his observations.
  • Natural experiences and interactions: In this method, the mystery shopper freely collects information and records everything that is in accordance with the set goals. In this case, the mystery shopper has no background to the information that is going to be collected during the mystery shopping process, and he has no idea what he will evaluate until the shopping experience is over.

When mystery shopping is done using pre-determined questions, it can be assured that all the items set in the objectives section are covered and no information is actually lost. On the contrary, when Mystery Shopping is done using natural experience, it can be expected that the results will be closer to reality, and in fact, the experience of the mystery shopper will be closer to the experience of a real shopper. In fact, the mystery shopper assessment is naturally more reliable. For example, when the purpose of mystery shopping is to evaluate the cleanliness of the store, the difference between the two styles can be understood. A person who enters the store with the scenario of evaluating the level of cleanliness unconsciously focuses more on the dirt in the store; Whereas, if this mentality does not already exist, many of these impurities may not be noticed by the evaluator.

Telephone Survey

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