Retailers: Want to increase your sales and reduce liabilities? Implement a mystery shopping program. As with any process, it pays to get it right.

October 27th, 2011

Today’s post is by David Wenig; Senior Account Manager at SafeSourcing.

Mystery shopping is a service that retailers often use to determine if their locations are consistent with their compliance efforts, product displays, customer service, sales and more. Mystery shoppers will “shop” the stores and follow a set procedure or checklist and will then report on their findings. Among the findings will be areas for improvement at the locations that are very beneficial to retailers.

One example of the benefit of these services is in compliance. If a retailer is selling alcohol or tobacco products they are required to be compliant with age verification laws. Mystery shopping can identify locations that are not consistently checking ID. Another example is in sales. Retailer may find lost opportunities for revenues based on missed up sell attempts or lacking product displays.

Here are four steps to get the most out of your program.

1. Shop the shoppers. There are hundreds of companies that offer mystery  shopping services. You and your sourcing partner will need to evaluate the field. This is a critical first step and is best addressed with a thorough Request for Proposal (RFP).
2. Set your evaluation criteria. In order to evaluate the providers, you need to have a well thought out plan. What are the most valuable attributes of your ideal mystery shopping provider? Share these with your sourcing partner as a basis for your RFP. Likewise, what are the most important service offerings or capabilities?
3. Evaluate. Now that you have completed your RFP, you will need to evaluate the responses. Your sourcing partner will assist with this process as well. By setting your criteria in step two, you have already set the stage for a simple review process. Your reporting will be centered on what matters the most to you.
4. Finalize your selection. Of course, once you have chosen the vendors that will remain under consideration, you will have the option to host a reverse auction based on the pricing collected during the RFP. This will ensure that you are getting the best provider at the best possible price.

If you are new to mystery shopping programs or if you would like to give an existing program a new start, your strategic sourcing partner has the expertise to guide you through these four steps.

We look forward to and appreciate your comments.

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