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How Can My Bookstore Benefit From a Mystery Shopper?

As a large bookseller, you’re often the one-stop shop for people in need of reading materials. You’re in the malls, you stare people down along major roads, you offer gift wrapping during the holidays and might even have a rewards or loyalty program to keep people coming back.

But in exchange for being the reliable convenience stop for books, shoppers expect certain things of you: They need to be able to find the book they’re looking for quickly; they need a shopping experience that lets them get in, get out and get on with their lives.

With so many SKUs to manage and employees to wrangle, it’s hard to monitor the average customer’s experience until they get so fired up that they seek out you or another manager to vent. And you don’t want that. Nip potential situations like these in the bud by hiring a mystery shopping company.

Mystery shoppers will come in and mirror every step of the customer process and take meticulous notes, which they’ll compile into a report that will help you understand your store’s strengths and weaknesses. Here are some potential areas they could evaluate:

  • Is the store clean and organized?
  • Are all computerized search systems up and running?
  • Is signage clear and direct?
  • Are books properly straightened and easy to find on shelves?
  • Are you well stocked with new releases and bestsellers?
  • If shoppers have to ask for help, are there employees readily available to help them?
  • Are the employees friendly, helpful and knowledgeable?
  • Is the checkout process friendly, smooth and quick?

These may seem straightforward and simple to you, but because you depend on different employees to execute all these moving pieces independently, it’s important to understand where the weaknesses in your processes lie. And, of course, mystery shoppers won’t just look for the negative. They’ll highlight where employees excelled and whether there were strengths above and beyond at any point in their shopping experience. It’s just as important to reward positive behavior and a job well done as it is to correct negative behaviors and kinks in your operations

Photo credit: ZeroOne (Flickr)