The highest populated/crowded place in any country can be found in the Grocery stores or the Convenience stores. In a country like India taking into consideration the huge population, these stores need to adapt to the best retail practices throughout the year. So, customer satisfaction and support to customers are kept as a high priority here. From the store’s ambiance to the bill payment desk, the whole process has to run smoothly in a Grocery store set up. How well the customer experience management should be implemented? The answers to these questions can be found with the help of good Mystery Shopping programs. Evaluations from Mystery Shoppers give invaluable information to Grocery stores and tips for improvement in the areas they are lacking.
Read below 10 Tips to improve your Grocery store Customer Experience:
1.The first look and the ambiance:
It is said that ‘The First impression is the best impression’. This matters a lot in the Groceries and Convenience stores. What the customer sees upon entry into the store makes him/her stay in the store to shop. A Mystery Shopper who behaves like any other customer can provide good feedback about the first look and the ambiance of the whole store.
It is important that the store is maintained well and kept hygienic throughout the day because there is always a continuous in-flow of customers in these stores. Mystery audits can be done at different timings to check if the store is being cleaned by the staff at all times. Unclean floors, rotten fruits/vegetables, dirty shelves, etc., could easily discourage the customers to shop in the store.
3.Availability of shopping carts:
Often, we observe that shopping carts are not easily available for various reasons. This can make customers leave the stores from the entrance itself. A Mystery shopper can evaluate easily if the stores are keeping sufficient shopping carts and are easily accessible to customers. Also, whether there are any stray shopping carts left in the parking lot.
Display boards are very important for customers to guide them to the products that they are interested to purchase. Proper signboards, correct price boards, and discounts if any, are to be displayed at the right places in the store. Mystery shoppers check this aspect and also provide photos if display boards are missing in any part of the store.
5.Arrangement of products:
The shelves in these stores have to be well-stacked with enough products so that customers can buy sufficient products and are easily accessible. The staff has to ensure that out-of-date products are removed and replaced with fresh stocks. Also, that there are no racks kept empty. This can be easily evaluated by Mystery shoppers with the help of photos. The stores would benefit from such information from the Mystery shopping evaluation.
6.Special offers or Discounts:
One of the popular ways to attract customers is to alert them of special offers or discounts going on for any product/s in the stores. A Mystery shopper would check if these boards are placed prominently for customers to view and whether they are kept at the appropriate product shelves.
These stores are mostly self-help stores and not much assistance is required from any staff for the customers. Even then, some staff should be around to help or guide the customers when they need assistance. In Mystery shopping programs, the Mystery shopper purposefully looks for help to check if the staffs provide help, are well-groomed and courteous in their behaviour.
The place where most customers get frustrated is the billing counter. Either there are long queues or unpleasant staff at the counter, especially in the peak business hours. Lots of Mystery Shopping programs have helped in this evaluation. Mystery shoppers visit these stores at peak hours to check if the billing process happens smoothly and how the staff manages the crowd. Do the staff open fresh counters to manage the crowd? How courteous the billing staffs are towards the customers? If the purchased products are nicely bagged? These aspects are easily determined by Mystery shoppers and the stores can make improvement plans for better management of the billing process.
Some stores employ staff to get feedback from customers about their shopping experiences. Even feedback forms are provided to customers to fill up in some stores. A Mystery shopper can easily check if this practice is being properly followed by the staff.
The best way to catch customers is to encourage them to visit the stores again and again. For this, some stores adapt to giving free coupons or food vouchers to their customers. Implementing Mystery shopping programs can confirm if these free coupons are being provided to customers and the customers’ responses to these free offers.
Some senior citizens or physically challenged customers might need help with their shopping carts after the billing process. The stores would need to know if their staff is helping these customers by pushing their shopping carts to the parking lot and loading the purchased items into their vehicles. For this, Mystery shopping audits can give a good picture of the same.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Managing Director, HS Brands Asia
Sanjeev Shenoy has 15+ years’ experience in mystery shopping and customer experience and has helped several global brands design and manage programs across Asia. As a post-graduate in Management, he has worked in Marketing & Operations across retail and food and beverage. As a believer in the beginners’ mindset, Sanjeev seeks to bring in innovation in the mystery shopping industry through technology and best practices from other industries.