Mystery shopping isn’t as simple as it used to be, when researchers could head straight to a brick-and-mortar location and test the complete customer journey for themselves.
Now, with so many paths for shoppers to take with brands, an effective mystery shopping strategy needs to account for much more including all available channels and their interrelationship. With our latest Global Brand Omnichannel Mystery Shopping report, Astound Commerce’s researchers analyzed eight different scenarios across in-store, mobile and desktop channels to gauge how global brands are living up to heightened expectations for omnichannel experiences.
Here are a few of the paths we took as mystery shoppers, and how the best global brands tackled each touchpoint:
- Scenario: Browsing the Online Store
Online stores are not new territory for global leaders, and excellent branding is largely the standard across the space. Despite having mastered branding, some brands still have a ways to go when it comes to merchandising products online.With so many products across brands vying for limited consumer attention, it’s more critical than ever to strategically showcase products. Smart brands are doing this by highlighting best-rated products, new arrivals, top sellers and seasonal products. Now, only 40 percent showcase top sellers and only 13 percent of those with onsite ratings show top-rated products. This approach varies based on category. Clothing brands, for example, should use lookbooks and exclusive offers to make sure their products are catching shoppers’ eyes.
- Scenario: Connect to the Store/Omnichannel
The best omnichannel strategy entails not only perfecting each channel, but seamlessly connecting them. Since customers often research products online before making in-store purchases (or picking them up later at their nearest location), it’s crucial to help them transition across channels easily.Brands must not only provide the basics (store location information, hours, contact details), but should support flexible omnichannel options like clear inventory transparency, in-store pickup options and ship-to-store capabilities. Brands still have progress to make here: of the 35 brands with brick-and-mortar locations surveyed, only 9 percent offered ship-to-store, 11 percent supported store reserve products and 17 percent offered in-store pickup options.
- Scenario: Seek Customer Service (Ask a Question)
Brands are growing savvier when it comes to self-service options that allow customers to answer their own questions. Easily accessible and informative options (like FAQs) save time on both ends and cut costs for brands. But customers can’t solve every problem on their own, and brands need contingency plans across channels that allow them to quickly resolve issues.While call centers were available on 49 out of 50 websites studied, customers don’t always want to spend time on the phone with brands. Interactive options like live chat and social media are more becoming more popular for shoppers with concerns. However, only 40 percent of brands surveyed supported live chat features, and only 14 percent of retailers offered Twitter as a customer service option.
Competitive brands will offer flexible, diverse and stellar customer service options across channels to ensure customer loyalty.
For a full list of shopper scenarios (and how to be ready for each), download our report.