RetailTrack Mystery Shopping

Helping companies define, measure and improve performance


Mystery Shopping Tips & Myths

How do you build a solid mystery shopping program?  How do you know if you are choosing the right mystery shopping company?  Here are a few things you should know before you make your investment in mystery shopping and a shopping company:Mystery shopping tips

Myth: "Our Shoppers are Better Trained"
Mystery shopping companies use many of the same people
There are tens of thousands of people in North America today who are professional mystery shoppers.  Mystery shopping companies subcontract their services, and most shoppers work for multiple companies. So be wary of claims that "our shoppers are better trained."  Many companies, like RetailTrack, provide extensive training for the shoppers they work with, but because those shoppers also work for other companies, everyone benefits.

Myth: "All Mystery Shopping Companies Carefully Select Shoppers"careful shopper selection
The data you get from your mystery shopping project is greatly dependent on the skill, knowledge and experience of the shoppers assigned to the project.  You would think that, because of this, all mystery shopping companies would make the shopper selection process a priority, right?  Wrong!

Many large mystery shopping companies automate this process to streamline their costs.  They simply post assignments on an internet bulletin board, then wait for the shoppers to choose where they want to shop.  The unfortunate result for you is that the quality of your project is now in question.  The people shopping your business aren't necessarily the best - they're the ones who logged onto the internet the earliest!

With RetailTrack, the shoppers working on your project are hand-selected, and specifically invited to work on your project because of their qualifications and our experience with them.  We have actually interviewed and screened every single shopper, and we will never give a shopper a job just because of an on-line application form they filled out.

shop form qualityTip:  A shopper is only as good as your requirements
The better you define the things you are looking for, the better a job the shoppers will be able to do. And here is a very simple rule to remember - The quality of your shop is directly proportionate to how FEW things you look for. Even the best shoppers are still only human, and can only retain so much information at a time. Because they are not walking into a store with a clipboard and the shopping form in front of them, they ultimately have to rely on their memory.

Only put on your form the information you absolutely need to know, and leave the "nice-to-know" information out of it. As a rule of thumb, we recommend that you never have more than 10-15 questions. Before you begin a project, do a couple of sample shops yourself, and see how well you remember the information. For every new question you add to your shop, the accuracy of the results will diminish.

Tip:  The answers you get are only as good as the context of the informationtelephone mystery shopping
The quantitative, statistical shop only tells part of the story. No less than 30% of your shop should be anecdotal - in the words of the shopper. This puts the shopper's scoring into context, so that you have a clearer understanding of situations before making decisions.

mystery shop experienceTip:  Experience is critical
The more experience a mystery shopping company has the better. It takes years to develop a qualified, well-screened shopping network, and to develop a positive working relationship with the thousands of shoppers a company will use.  A thorough understanding of mystery shopping practices and methodology are also critical for ensuring the quality and accuracy of a project.  RetailTrack is among North America's longest established Mystery Shopping companies, and we know how to get things right the first time.

Knowledge of your industry is essential as well. The people who design the reports, the people who hire the shoppers, the people who review the reports, and the people who do the analysis all need to have an in-depth understanding of your industry in order for you to get the best results.  You will only get the information you want when the people understand what you're looking for and why.  That's why RetailTrack takes such great care at the beginning to ensure we get to know your business and your needs.

Tip:  Look for flexibility and responsivenessflexible
With proper systems, and a strong shopper network, a mystery shopping company should be able to be able to respond to your needs quickly and effectively.

Some mystery shopping companies will ask you for excessively long lead times or even penalize you for short turn-arounds. Quite frankly - that's just gouging.  RetailTrack tailors everything - from the shoppers report form to the reporting you receive - to the format that best suits you and your company. And only in very rare circumstances will extra costs be involved.

qualityMyth:  "High-tech means high quality"
Many mystery shopping companies have built their systems around sophisticated, web-based applications. While these systems offer tremendous benefits, they are often inflexible - limiting the company's ability to respond quickly or cost-effectively to special needs or smaller shops.

RetailTrack also has a sophisticated web-based application - our own RetailTrack SMART System.  It was designed specifically with our clients in mind, and gives us the flexibility to meet the needs of all our customers.

Having said that, if one of our customers prefers email, fax or hard-copy reporting - we will do that too.  We feel that our customers should get things the way they want it - instead of forcing them to be flexible to our needs.

Myth:  "Customized means expensive"mall mystery shop
Beware of high price quotes for special requests or customization. RetailTrack customizes each mystery shopping program for, with only a few exceptions, little to no additional cost to our clients. Our philosophy is that if we do a good job for you, our costs of customization will amortize easily over a long and positive relationship.

To Find out More
To inquire about a customized, world-class RetailTrack Mystery shopping program for your company, contact us at:

 1 (800) 576-6860



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