Mystery Shopping In Travel Retail

How do you know what your brand experience is really like in stores? Are you relying on what you have been told? Or what you have seen? Is your brand vision and retail strategy really being executed in the right way? These are important questions especially when service is such a key topic.

It is easy to believe that your vision is executed correctly in store. In our experience, it is often not the case.

Brands invest a lot of money in the creation, design and build of activations, they contribute to store developments and invest in the front line sales people. Is that money being well spent? Is that investment working hard enough?

Probably not. At a conservative estimate, the average brand is losing sales of $500,000 per year per large store.

So how do you find out what is really happening in store?

If you haven’t heard of Mystery Shopping, it involves sending undercover shoppers into stores to evaluate service levels of store staff, agency staff or brand representatives. If executed in the right way, it is a useful exercise that delivers valuable insight.

A well put together Mystery Shopping project using our unique methodology (Mystery Shopper Plus) is far more cost effective and insightful than a traditional mystery shopping project. The findings will allow you to fully understand how your brands and products are being represented in store. You can:

  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your sales team
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses in how the brand story is communicated
  • Evaluate store standards
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of your training programs
  • Pin-point specific training needs at a company-wide level
  • Shape your future education and training strategy

When working with One Red Kite on a Mystery Shopping Plus project there are some guidelines we follow:

  • We do not create a large “tick box” exercise with pages and pages of questions. We create a brand specific, highly focused approach based on your own requirements and expectations.
  • We do not use agency staff. There is a particular type of person to use on such a mission to ensure you get the best value.
  • We recommend that you do not share the findings of the mystery shopping results with the specific individuals. This might seem a little unusual at first but we will talk through why during the set up phase.
  • We help you decide on whether to review your competitors – what are they doing better or worse than your sales team? What can you do about it?
  • We advise that you keep the project secret. The fewer people in the business who know about the project the better. This gives you a truer read on what is happening and prevents front line teams from being warned that they will be assessed.
  • We are discreet, always. Our team of Mystery Shoppers are so well trained that even the most experienced of store staff would never know they have been assessed.

In summary, a Mystery Shopping project should never be about challenging an individual or a retailer. A Mystery Shopping project is a learning project that gives unparalleled insight and clear actions for delivering better in the future. It shows you what is working and what isn’t so that you can shape and influence your strategy.

To find out more about our Mystery Shopping program, contact Jill at or myself at

Have a great week.


Founder & Managing Director
One Red Kite Limited

Author of “Travel Retail : The Insider’s Guide”
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