Being a mystery shopper

Today instead of an interview, I would like to introduce you to the task of a mystery shopper. In Japan the use of mystery shoppers is on the rise for karaoke parlors, stores or restaurants. But what is actually a mystery shopper? According to Wikipedia mistery shopping is a tool used by market research companies to measure quality of retail service or gather specific information about products and services. Mystery shoppers are posing as normal customers while purchasing a product, asking questions, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way and then provide detailed reports or feedback about their experience.
Today was my first and most likely last experience as a mystery shopper. For sure I do recommend the experience to observe critically a shop layout and customer service, but the time and efforts included do not balance the roughly JPY 500 profit I can make. So what was my task today (I hope you understand and forgive me that I cannot talk about the actual details): I had been asked online to check out a certain electronics store and check out the available notebooks and desktops. Which brand has the best position in the store? Which manufacturer had the largest number of PC showcased in the room? Then as a next step interact with the available sales person. How long does it take until I am approached for help? What kind of advice is given for a PC purchase? What brand is recommended and why? At the end I had to take the business card and some catalogues as a reference for the actual visit. No purchase was done.
From a marketing perspective, I believe the manufacturer can learn a lot globally about their success or failure of their actual local strategy. As I work in sales being now as a customer on the receiving end of the support, the lessons learned again were very valuable for me.

Brought to you by Sibylle Ito (シビル伊藤)

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