A Mystery Shopper to Improve Your Online Shop?

Ever thought about using a mystery shopper to improve your online store?

I wouldn’t have thought about this possibility, but Farah Mustansar, who clearly is someone thinking outside the box, would. She uses the ‘mystery shopper’-phenomena to fully test if her online store is up to par.

Here’s Farah’s guest post.

Using mystery shopper to scrutinize and improve your online store

“Mystery shopper” is a technique commonly used by brick and mortar stores to assess the shopping experience from customer’s viewpoint.
Mysterious shopper (Anonymous shopper to be more precise) is a person who visits the store as a customer (but the sales staff or store owners aren’t aware of the identity), so the shopper is treated just like another customer.

The shopper will stroll around the store, take a look at products on shelves, talk to sales persons, try to negotiate on prices, and everything a normal customer would do.

Meanwhile they are taking notes in their mind, especially about the areas that they feel needs some improvement. Later on, their input helps businesses to improve on whatever the mystery shopper thinks were the weak points. Note that mystery shoppers are also employed by third parties for various reasons.

mystery shopper
Photo Credit: DavidMartynHunt

Online stores can use mystery shoppers as well, to evaluate the shopping experience and improve. Let’s take a look at how mystery shopper can help.

Categories & Navigation:
The first thing mystery shopper needs to pore over is the navigation and the categories. The online stores usually have many different products and all of these products need to be exhibited in relevant categories.

An online store without proper categories will result in hundreds of products scattered all over the place, and it will make it impossible for the customers to find the desired product. So, it’s important that the products are arranged under different categories.

For example a fashion clothing store can use the categories like Shoes, Apparel, Accessories, Brands, and the likes.

At times, customers are not in the mood of sifting through various categories. They will land on your website with a particular product in mind, and would like to go straight to the product page.

To do so, they will use the searching feature; and you need to provide them with a good enough searching facility. If the search shows no results unless the customers are putting in exact same keywords, that’s not good enough.

On the other hand, if searching turns up too many results, that’s not going to cut it either. Mystery shopper should try searching with various keywords and see if the search results were helpful or not.

Once the customer reaches the product page by searching or navigating through the categories, the page must be having a couple of good quality product images along with the description.

Not only the product page, but the entire web store should be designed in a way to lure the customers into buying, hence maximizing the conversion. A Mystery shopper will try to notice if the website is keeping the customers involved by using the features like “new arrivals” or “relevant products”.

Customer Support:
Online stores need to have some sort of customer support which is available 24/7.
At times email support is not enough. If possible you should give them a toll free number, or provide them with “live chat” option, as you cannot ask customers to go through lengthy FAQ or Terms and Conditions to find the answers arising in their minds.
Mystery Shoppers should try these customer support options and see if they were good.

The checkout procedure has got to be smooth. The store must be using the best shopping cart software and payment gateways.

Online customers prefer paying via PayPal. If you are not able to provide PayPal for some reasons (e.g. you are not operating from one of those approved countries), you should at least provide them with an option to pay via credit/debit card.
A Mystery shopper will use the shopping cart and checkout, making changes, trying discount coupon and field to see if everything’s working fine.

Farah Mustansar is an SEO expert, and writes on topics related to Internet Marketing. She’s working for smartpress.com that offers sell sheets printing services.

Have you ever used a mystery shopper to optimize your online store?
Post your comments below.

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