Media Releases

9 April 2003

Shopping Spies go under cover

By Amanda James, The West Australian

A secret group of Perth people go under cover regularly and get paid to shop.

The assignment involves a person assuming the identity of a customer to gather information about a business. The information is used to improve the business from a customer's point of view.

Supermarkets, banks, speciality stores, newspapers, restaurants, hotels, department stores and the telecommunications industry are targeted regularly by the mystery shoppers.

Generally the purchases are on the undercover buyer's normal shopping list.

Hide and seek: Anonymous shopper Stacey checks out services at Dewsons in Wembley. She is part of a secret band of shoppers who report on areas such as customer service, product quality, product presentation and cleanliness.
Photo: Sandra Jackson

Shopper Anonymous managing director Jonathan Winchester, whose company uses about 65 mystery shoppers to visit up to 500 WA businesses a month, said they looked at areas such as customer service, product quality, product presentation and cleanliness.

Client benefits included increased sales, better customer satisfaction and higher employee motivation.

"Research indicates that 91 per cent of unhappy customers will never purchase goods or services from there again but if you actually make an effort to remedy the complaint, up to 95 per cent of customers will stay with the business," Mr Winchester said.

According to Jacquelene Cloose Moore, shopper recruitment manager for mystery shopping company GAPbuster, assessments pinpointed areas for improvement and recognised exceptional service.

She said mystery shopping suited people who wanted extra income or something to do in addition to work, study or home duties.

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