For our marketing Research project we were required to carry out extensive research on the topic of mystery shopping. This project required us to construct a mystery shopping programme of a service business. The service business that was chosen was Next, a renowned retailer for fashion and homeware. The project will outline the objectives of the research and the mystery shopping programme.
It will also examine the results of the programme and suggest possible recommendations. Methodology The primary objective of the report was to find out the public’s perception of Next. In order to attain this information, we decided it was best to initiate a mystery shopper programme. This programme involved hand-picking ten individuals, based on age, sex, and location, to act as consumers in Next. Each individual was to enter the chosen store and to return honest feedback on their experience, through the use of a questionnaire.
The drafted questionnaire examined areas such as store layout, staff, and ambience. The objective of this was to access direct knowledge of consumers opinions in areas that were outlined in the questionnaire and mystery shopper briefing. In order to eliminate bias, each selected individual was briefed on understanding the questionnaire and what aspects of the shop were to be examined. The chosen method provided us with objective feedback which was essential in the completion of the report. Findings In this section of the report we will show our findings of each store that was visited.
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Altogether there were seven stores visited. (Sligo, Enniskillen, Letterkenny, Athlone, Castlebar, Limerick and the store in the Jervis shopping centre in Dublin). These are our findings: Sligo The Sligo store is located in the quayside shopping centre in Sligo town. The store was visited on four occasions. On each occasion the store was clean and tidy on the inside and out. On every visit the changing rooms were tidy. The outside of the shop was attractive and inviting towards customers, with posters advertising a sale and an entrancing and eye catching clothes display in the window.
The store is completely wheelchair accessible. No one was greeted as they entered the store, on one visit members of staff were standing around talking amongst themselves, and only one person thought that there was a welcoming atmosphere in the store as it was warm and there was calming music being played. Three out of four people were pleased with the temperature within the shop with one person thinking the air conditioning was turned up too high. The clothes on display were easy to reach for three out of four of the customers, with the same amount finding that all sizes were on display.
Only on two of the visits were the staff wearing the correct uniform, such as name badges. On just two out of the four visits the staff asked if assistance was needed and only one customer said that eye contact was made with them and that they were polite. At the till there was an average of 1-4 till kiosks open with less than five people in each queue. On all four visits it did not take long to get served and all of the customers were thanked for shopping at the store, but found that the exit signs were not clearly illuminated.
All four people said that they would recommend the Sligo store to others. The overall opinions of the store varied. One out of the four customers said that it was perfect. Out of the other three, more helpful staff, a new layout, lower shelves and a bigger store were mentioned. Enniskillen The Next store in Enniskillen is located in the Erneside shopping centre in Enniskillen. This store was visited on only one occasion. On this occasion the entrance and the outside of the store were clean and tidy. The inside was also tidy.
It was attractive on the eye and the changing rooms were spotless. The outside of the shop looked attractive and inviting due to the black and white theme on the outside of the shop which ‘Next’ is renowned for. The store is wheelchair accessible. The customer was not greeted by any member of staff on entrance to the store and thought the atmosphere was not welcoming as it was dark inside the store. The customer thought that the temperature in the store was comfortable. They were not asked however by any member of staff if they needed assistance.
The customer found that some of the rails in the store were too high but all sizes were stocked and that the staff were helpful when asked about the sizes, but not all members of staff were wearing a name badge. At the checkout four checkouts were open and there was less than five people in the queue, and did not have to wait long to get served. The customer was thanked for shopping at the store and found that the exit signs were clearly visible. This customer said that they would recommend this store to others and that the staff were quite friendly but could have been more helpful.
They’re overall opinion was that the store could be bigger with more or better lighting conditions. Letterkenny The Letterkenny store is located in Letterkenny Retail Park. This store was visited on one occasion. On this occasion the outside of the premises was not clean and tidy and did not look attractive and inviting to customers as it looked dirty. The store is wheelchair accessible. On entering the store the customer was not greeted by a member of staff and the atmosphere was not welcoming as the music in the store was very faint and couldn’t be heard clearly.
Other than that the inside of the store was clean, tidy and attractive. The temperature in the shop was fine also. No member of staff asked the customer if they needed assistance. The customer was not able to reach some of the clothes as they were hung too high. Not all the sizes were displayed and stocked but the staff did check to see if they had the size in the store room. The changing room was tidy and uncluttered. When the customer got to the till four tills were in operation, there were more than five people in the queue and it took six minutes for them to get served.
The staff at the checkout were described as friendly and thanked the customer for shopping in the store. The exit signs were clearly illuminated. The customer said their overall experience of shopping in the store was disappointing but acceptable. The customer also said that they would not recommend this store to others because not all sizes were stocked and the atmosphere in the shop and the customer service was poor, and suggested having more staff on the floor. Athlone The ‘Next’ store in Athlone is located in the Athlone Town shopping centre, just off the M6 motorway.
This store was visited once only. The entrance to the store was clean and tidy and the outside of the store was attractive and inviting to customers. The store is wheelchair accessible. When the customer entered the store they were not greeted by anyone. The atmosphere within the shop was not welcoming as there was no music being played in the store, but the temperature was acceptable. The inside of the store was attractive, but the changing rooms were not tidy and unsatisfactory. The clothes were easy to view and reach but not all sizes were displayed.
No member of staff asked if the customer needed assistance, but they were polite and helpful when getting a bigger size for the customer. All staff were wearing full uniform including name badges. When the customer got to the checkout there were four tills in operation and did not take long to get served. They were not thanked for shopping at the store but said the checkout staff were friendly and the exit signs were clear and illuminated. The customer said that they would recommend this store to others as they had a good overall experience in the store but feel that more staff are needed.
Castlebar The Castlebar store is located in Lannagh Road Retail Park which is a five minute walk from the main street in Castlebar. The entrance to the store was not up to standard as it was not clean and tidy, although the front of the shop was. The store is wheelchair accessible. When the customer entered the store they were greeted by a member of staff, and due to this made the atmosphere of the store feel welcoming. The inside of the store itself was clean and attractive and the temperature of the store was fine. A member of staff offered assistance, with a smile and good eye contact was made.
All staff were wearing the correct uniform with their name badges. All of the sizes were displayed on the rails and they were easily accessible. The changing room was clean and tidy. At the till only a limited number of tills were in operation with less than five people in the queue and it took around three minutes to get served. The customer was thanked for shopping at the store and the exits were clearly marked and illuminated. This customer would recommend this store to others due to the friendly and welcoming atmosphere, but suggests better parking facilities. Limerick
The Limerick store is located in the Crescent shopping centre in Limerick which is situated two miles outside of Limerick city centre. The entrance to the shop was not clean and tidy and was blocked by a stand, this did not make the store look attractive and inviting to customers, although it was bright and lit up, the stand spoilt it. The store is wheelchair accessible. The customer was not greeted by a member of staff on entering the store and the atmosphere was not very welcoming. Also the store did not have a modern feel to it, which ‘Next’ would have a reputation for being.
The store was not clean or tidy either. The temperature in the store was not sufficient as the customer found it very stuffy. One of the good points about this store was that a member of staff did ask if the customer needed assistance but did not smile or make eye contact while doing so. The staff were wearing the correct uniform including name badges. The clothes were easily reachable on the rails but not all sizes were displayed or stocked and staff were not helpful when asked for another size. The changing room was clean and tidy.
At the checkout there were 1-3 checkouts in operation with more than five people in the queue. It took ten minutes to get served, and the checkout staff did not speak. The customer was not thanked for shopping at the store but the exit signs were clear and illuminated. This customer would not recommend this store others due to not being felt welcomed or comfortable in the store and believes that the store should be renovated. Dublin There are many next stores in Dublin but the one that was visited was the one located in the Jervis shopping centre in Dublin city centre.
This store was visited on one occasion. The entrance to the store was not clean and tidy but the outside of the store looked attractive and inviting due to the window display of the stores clothing. The store is wheelchair accessible. On entering the store the customer was not greeted by a member of staff, but the atmosphere was welcoming and the temperature in the store was nice and warm. The inside of the store was clean, tidy and attractive. The customer was not asked by any member of staff if they needed assistance. The clothes were easy to view and reach, and all sizes were displayed.
The changing room was clean, tidy and uncluttered. At the till there were between 1-3 checkouts open, there was less than five people in the queue, it did not take long to get served. The staff were not neatly dressed and wearing their name badges but they were polite and made good eye contact with the customer and thanked the customer for shopping at the store. The exit signs were not clearly illuminated in this store. The customer would recommend this to others as the staff were very friendly. But said that they should be better dressed. Recommendations
In this part of the report we outline the recommendations that we would make to Next based on our findings from the mystery shopping exercise. These are our recommendations: Firstly we believe that they should retrain right across the board. From shop assistants right up to managers. There should be a strict set of rules implemented into this training and an exam must be passed by all employees. The employees will then get a certificate to say that they have completed this. The managers would have to complete a more advanced course, dealing with all the topics the employees have to with a few added extras.
During this training the following must be covered. Employees 1. Customers must be greeted when they walk in the door to make them feel welcomed. 2. Staff must ask customers if they need assistance within thirty seconds of them being on the premises. 3. When speaking to customers, speak politely and mannerly and eye contact must be made. 4. Correct uniform must be worn at all times. Especially a name badge. 5. Staff must make sure that the changing rooms are clean and clutter free at all times. 6. Make sure all sizes are on display. 7.
If there is a substantial queue at the till, get another staff member to open another till. 8. Always thank the customer for shopping at the store. Managers 1. Make sure the outside of the premises is kept clean. 2. Delegate different employees to particular jobs. And make sure everybody knows what there job is. 3. Make sure that the music in the shop is on, clear and loud enough so the customers can hear it but not so loud that it is deafening. 4. Keep on top of the uniform issue as this was one of the weak areas of the mystery shopping survey.
Secondly we believe that you should have a review of all your stores and try and complete any work that needs to be done. Such as a new layout or renovation. For example. The store in Limerick was described as not very modern. Next is well known for having a fashionable range of clothing and if the shop does not reflect this image then customers will not come into the store. Another example would be a lot of rails have been described as too high. You could combat this by making them lower or having a hook that customers would use to reach the clothing. Finally we would recommend that you should look at your staffing policy.
On a number of visits to your stores it has pointed out that if there was more staff then it would have been a better shopping experience. Even one more extra staff member per store would make a huge difference. Conclusion Overall, the project was a huge success. The implementation of the Questionnaire gave us valuable opinions which were vital in being able to recommend changes for the service. The physical aspect of the mystery shopper enabled us to gather first hand, unbiased information which would have been very difficult to receive, had another method of research been chosen. Appendices:
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