Industry Insider: Grocery & Supermarkets

Angela Megasko of discusses why mystery shopping is so important to the supermarket industry.Understanding why a particular industry chooses to mystery shop, and how they use the results, is information rarely shared with mystery shoppers…until now. Join us each month for our Industry Insider post.

Grocery & Supermarkets

In most towns and cities across America, we all have several choices of where to shop for our groceries. In recent years, the market has become even more competitive with organic and whole food types, huge box and speciality stores, all competing with your local grocer and the supermarket chains.

Grocers, in turn, have had to work harder to create individualized identities to differentiate themselves from the supermarket down the street. The food sales market is extremely competitive and the profit margins are tight.

Mystery shopping a grocery store or supermarket is an all-encompassing experience, as managers of these stores want to be sure their customers have a consistent, welcoming experience when roaming the aisles of their stores.

Our supermarket clients use mystery shopping reports to understand the total customer experience:

  • from entering the parking lot and grabbing a cart;
  • to interaction with the employees stocking the shelves, as well as those who are cooking in a specialty department;
  • all the way through the cashier and bagging experience.

Let’s face it: If any one of those points of contact do not meet a customer’s expectation, next week that customer can easily go to the store down the street.

We find our mystery shoppers try to incorporate an entire week (or two) of grocery shopping when they do supermarket mystery shops.

While we appreciate you using your time management skills to accomplish the most in the least amount of time, we would encourage you to choose to do a “small” grocery purchase when you do your shops.

There are usually 5 to 7 areas you need to explore when in a supermarket. Check your reporting form and instructions before you leave, and adjust your shopping list to pick up an item or two in each of those areas.

This will allow you to stay more focused on the interaction with employees, store shelves, product displays and cleanliness, instead of looking for the sale item for which you have a coupon.

Your focused concentration, thorough reporting and honest feedback will provide that local grocer with the information necessary to make sure all of your shopping experiences at their store are great!

Tell us about your experiences mystery shopping supermarkets. Leave your comment below!


About Market Viewpoint

Market Viewpoint offers comprehensive mystery shopping services, complete customer service audits, employee and customer surveys, customer focused marketing strategies, and customer service training to help you improve your customer service and outshine your competition.
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6 Responses to Industry Insider: Grocery & Supermarkets

  1. StephB says:

    While I try to only do the minimum amount of shopping during a shop, I feel that the lack of groceries and the weird variety (toilet paper, deli meat and maybe one other item) gives me away. It is sometimes hard to find 8 different people to interact with. I find that on normal (non shopping) days in the grocery store, I only see a couple of people about. A lot of the time, I run across the same couple of people in several departments.

  2. Steph – thanks for your feedback. Don’t worry about what you are purchasing. Trust that the cashier is not judging you by what you have in the cart. They see all types of assortments. Sometimes you just run out of certain things. Or there are people who like to shop every day and just pick up a few things. I don’t think what you have in your cart will identify you as a shopper.

    We do understand your concern about the 8 people. Keep trying to look out for different employees to the best of your ability. Our client knows who should be on the floor. If you only see one person out there and have to report on him/her in several departments, the client will then know that there is a problem with others ‘showing’ up in the supermarket aisles. You never know what you experience will tell our clients! Happy Shopping!

  3. David Mayo says:

    The grocery shops that are offered still pay $10 reimbursement, no fee since 2006 when I first started doing those shops.

    You could buy a bag full of groceries for $10 back in 2006. Today one steak can cost you over $10. It cost the supermarket a lot less that $10 for that steak.

    What a bargain for the supermarket what a waste of time and money for the shopper unless you are actually going to that supermarket and you consider the $10 reimbursement a discount on your shopping.

    If you do four or five shops it still does not pay for the two or three bags of groceries that costs the merchant far less than the $40 or $50 perceived value as you must include the cost of gas and the time the extra shops take to perform and report. What would it take for a company to put an employee into a vehicle and pay minimum wage plus benefits etc, to perform the same shops?

    It is no wonder the government is looking into the Mystery Shopping industry. While the participants (shoppers) are independent business people they are not entrepreneurs. Some mystery shoppers can not figure out that it might cost a shopper more in fuel to get to the shops than the shops are paying. Taking money out of your pocket to perform shops is in fact giving charity to business people who do not need it.

    Some schedulers often get angry when you turn down a shop 50 miles away when the fee is 15 dollars and they are giving you a $3. bonus. They expect a shopper to travel 100 miles for $18. It would take about 2 hours drive time and more time in the store and time preparing for the shop and reporting the shop. In every business relationship I have I look to exchange mutual consideration. Where is the MUTUAL consideration for the parties in this scenario?

    I built three companies listening to feedback from my clients (and now I can go to the beach). A business owner can not sit in their office and not be aware of what is happening at “ground zero” where the company meets the customer. It can cost a business owner everything if there is no “fly on the wall” reporting back. The business owner should place more value on the mystery shopper. The mystery shopping company should sell that value and get more consideration for the shoppers that do the work.

    If I were going to the beach I might stop in at a fast food or a convenience store or grocery store and buy lunch. The fast food may give you $7.50 for gas in addition to your fast food lunch and lingering tummy ache for a report that you would do on the beach instead of a crossword puzzle. A “victimless” shop.

    I can tell many business people do not have not a clue. They pay the person who answers the phone minimum wages. This is the first impression a potential customer will have. You can not place a higher value on that first impression. You can never make a great second first impression.

    When you use a phone answering device that frustrates a caller to press this and that and hold. It is often not a good first impression. Eventually the caller must speak to a live person. This caller finds businesses who actually answers their phone with a live pleasant person. My phones were always answered live. Even today my phone will hunt me down and make me say. “Hello, thank you for calling. HOW MAY I HELP YOU?

    Sorry for the editorial.

    I would like to know the thoughts of business people on this.

    • Dave, thanks for your discussion provoking commentary. We can’t speak of the MS company that still only pays you $10 for a grocery shop. At Market Viewpoint, we always pay our shoppers for submitting a report plus the reimbursement that the client will approve. We do recognize the value of the mystery shopper’s work and pride ourselves on being one of the better paying mystery shopping companies. That being said, we can’t be in business unless we have clients, and in recent years have found that the lowest bidder seems to get the contract. Some businesses treat this process as a commodity, but it truly isn’t. The amount of information in one mystery shop is invaluable to an organization at many levels. We try to work between you, our dedicated shoppers, and our clients to find some happy medium of pricing and payment. We are always working on educating both parties to create an understanding in the value for companies to work with an organization that cares about the results and the mystery shoppers in helping them grow and manage their businesses. The goal is to continue to improve customer service, to have employees have pride in their work and to help an organization grow, and for home based mystery shopping business owners to be successful and profitable. Know that we are committed to these causes and will continue to be going forward.

  4. Cathy K says:

    I have been a mystery shopper for over 10 years. I agree with Dave’s comments. I have drastically cut down on the # of shops that I will do. I am retired. The pay for many of the shops are not worth my time in peeping, driving to and from the shop, doing the shop and writing the report. Most of the shops for movies and fast food are reimbursement shops. I do not need to eat fast food as it is not a healthy diet. The grocery shops are asking you to do an audit to get prices for 10.00 plus to make a purchase that they do not reimburse you for. I have gotten to the point that I have not done any shops since April. There is an apartment shop that pays 40.00j plus 15.00 bonus. I am not motivated to do because it takes over 3 hours to do the report alone plus the hour to tour the apartment. I would spend about 5-6 hours to do one shop. Not worth it to me. i used to do several shops per month. I have lost my interest in doing mystery shopping. I used to enjoy it more-in spite of the pay.

  5. Cathy, We understand your frustration. One of the benefits of mystery shopping is being able to choose which shops you want to do. Unfortunately, in certain cities and areas of the country, there isn’t enough of a variety of shops if you are only signed on with a few companies. That is why we always encourage our shoppers to sign on with as many companies as possible. The time spent up front typically can pay off if you work out a system for checking emails and job boards. We hope you find opportunities to find the fun in mystery shopping again. Dedicated shoppers such as yourself are needed!

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