Second to None
Second to None
Second to None
Second to None

Your grocery consumer’s experience: no longer a mystery

Your Grocery Consumer’s Experience: No Longer a Mystery

Today’s grocery consumer has layered expectations. To meet those expectations, grocery retailers must see what their customers are currently going through when interacting with their brand.

What’s keeping you from understanding your grocery consumers?

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Are you dealing with inefficient data?
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Are you unable to measure across every grocery consumer touchpoint?
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Is your chain dealing with a vendor that doesn’t specialize in grocery?
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Do you wish there was a better way to cascade results to your locations?

To serve the grocery consumer, you have to think like them.


Clean, sanitized, and spacious store

Consumers have developed more demanding safety expectations than ever before. They are looking for brands and chains that ensure safety and the proper precautions are being taken by all employees. Grocery chains are expected to offer a safe and sterilized environment with additional space in aisles and displays to allow customer traffic to move bi-directionally in each aisle with a safe distance between shoppers.


Ultimate consumer convenience

The push for online ordering and pick-up or delivery has been paramount for grocery chains. It’s critical to not only enable your customers to have a touchless, convenient experience, but it will be important to continue measuring just how user-friendly those touchless methods remain over time.


Always-on maintenance of stock

Grocery consumers now fully expect stores to maintain stock levels despite varying availability due to supply chain interruptions and distribution delays. Additionally, they are looking for brands that provide a large variety of products and services that are fresh, diverse, and appealing.


Genuine, friendly service

Consumers desire genuine, kind experiences in the stores they visit because purchases are driven by emotion. Grocery chains should prioritize excellent customer service, which includes helpful and friendly associates that are willing to go above and beyond to assist customers. This moves the consumer through their store experience a lot smoother – and safer.


An all-in-one experience

Today’s consumers are seeking low customer effort for products and services. They want to quickly pick up items for meal preparation, visit the pharmacy for prescription refills, fill their vehicle with gas, and do their banking all in one trip – and ideally, within one location.


How can you know if your consumers are getting the experience they need, in a way that will ultimately help you grow your grocery brand?


Seek the support of specially trained mystery shoppers to get the answers that matter most to your organization.

What is mystery shopping?

What is mystery shopping?

Mystery shopping is the practice of sending designated individuals to different locations of your grocery chain to perform a specific evaluation on customer service, cleanliness, customer effort, promotions, and more. These designated individuals are known as mystery shoppers or secret shoppers.

How does mystery shopping work for grocery stores?


Step 1:
Mystery shoppers are usually certified with a mystery shopping provider, and are equipped with a set of guidelines detailing exactly how the interaction with your grocery brand is meant to take place.


Step 2:
Different mystery shoppers are sent to the various locations of your grocery chain, all completing the same evaluation. The goal is to gather a consistent level of data from these locations, which will lead to impactful changes in your customer experience. Once the assignment is completed, mystery shoppers will submit their findings to a mystery shop provider.


Step 3:
The data is then dispersed and analyzed across the grocery organization based on hierarchy, and evaluated according to the mystery shopping provider’s guidelines.

Get insights from every touchpoint to make chain-wide improvements.

Get insights from every touchpoint to make chain-wide improvements.

Whether in-store, online, on the phone, on-app, or beyond, grocery brands can uncover the behavioral and operational drivers of the customer experience that are ultimately responsible for improving customer satisfaction, loyalty, advocacy, and financial outcomes. You just have to meet them where they’re at: everywhere.


Website Mystery Shops
Grocery brands will want to monitor general site navigation, product search scenarios, user experience, chat interactions, email inquiry, form submission, call center interactions, ability to find specific information, customer follow-up lead times, product ordering, checkout, order confirmations, delivery, parcel return or in-store returns.


Digital Mystery Shops
Through this channel, mystery shoppers can evaluate Branded App interactions, Third-party App order/delivery, Buy Online/Pickup In-Store (BOPIS), Buy Online/Ship To Store (BOSS), Social Media Interactions, Customer Review Site Interactions.


Curbside Pickup/Delivery Mystery Shops
Most grocery brands already have partners in place to complete delivery requests, and established training programs to make sure that employees are executing in-store pickup requests effectively. As these programs become more common, grocery brands need to consistently measure performance and uncover data about how they could add value to customers that stands out. A mystery shopping program can also help your chain avoid these common pitfalls in grocery curbside pickup service.


In-Store/On-Site Mystery Shops
Even while digital grocery shopping is growing, in-store grocery shopping will still remain. Critical measures may include location appearance, signage, customer entry perceptions, associate greeting, customer needs assessment, employee knowledge and friendliness, speed of service, customer/associate interaction scenarios, purchase/return, merchandising, product displays, point-of-purchase marketing and product pricing/availability.


Phone/Call Center Mystery Shops
Grocery chains with a phone service will evaluate for general customer inquiries, product knowledge and support scenarios, membership/subscription interactions, associate friendliness/helpfulness and every critical form of phone-based experience delivery.

To reveal the customer experience at every touchpoint mentioned above, you need a robust network of shoppers to pull from. For example, we have a seasoned network of over 500,000 consumer shoppers across the U.S. and Canada.

Learn more about our mystery shopping program, Snapshot.

Grocers will need a program that measures by industry standards…

Grocers will need a program that measures by industry standards…

Grocery chains require specific service standards to drive brand loyalty. With a Mystery Shopping program, the following standards (and more) can and should be continually measured to ensure customer retention.

These probably look familiar to you:

  • Stock levels being kept at 50% or above for all items.
  • Greeting customers within 20 seconds of arrival at service counters, even non-verbally if a line of customers is present.
  • Walking customers to products they ask about, rather than pointing or giving verbal directions.
  • Clean shelves and floors, free of water and debris at all times.
  • Organized and appealing displays with clear pricing.
  • Greeting and welcoming every customer who stands within 10 feet of an associate, even if the customer hasn’t asked for assistance.
  • Ensuring a customer found all items needed, even if that means sending an associate to get something the customer wasn’t able to find before checkout transaction completes

And there’s even more than that. But ultimately, every grocery brand is unique and will have its own chain-specific standards — which is why you’ll want a specialized mystery shopping program that can be customized to your brand (built by a partner who understands the grocery industry).

Here’s how a rising grocery chain optimized their customer-centric programs for better decision-making.

Here’s how a rising grocery chain optimized their customer-centric programs for better decision-making.

A reputable midwestern retail grocery store brand was experiencing issues with the validity of their customer data. Ultimately, they wanted their data from both channels to be centrally housed and analyzed for better decision-making.

After implementing our Engage program and gaining new insights in the process, the grocery chain has been able to:

  • Pinpoint disconnects between their customers’ experiences in-store and what their mystery shoppers report from the same stores. 
  • Tailor the mystery shop questions and guidelines to address specific or ongoing issues they notice in the customer data — leading to better business decisions. 
  • Keep their program in step with what matters most to their customers.

Read the full case study here.

Why mystery shopping for your grocery brand?

  • You get a direct report from the front line
  • You ensure the appropriate levels of compliance
  • You capture what your associates are doing right
  • You keep your brand experience consistent
  • You benchmark against competitors
  • You stay agile and competitive in the grocery industry

At Second To None, we can design a custom program to help you obtain accurate information about customer preferences, measure existing employee performance based on a unique set of metrics, and capture real-time insights around what value customers are looking to receive from your grocery brand.

Learn how to solve the mystery behind your customer’s experience, with a partner who specializes in grocery.

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