I was in a rather uninspiring airport waiting to connect to another flight and wandered over to a Liquor store. It was more of a conventional shop with a doorway as an entrance rather than open plan like most stores are these days. There was one shop assistant sat in deep concentration at the till. A good sign you might think but unfortunately she was not concentrating on at what was going on in the store.

I crossed the threshold and decided to browse the offer. I admit, I was killing time but I may have been tempted. I wandered round and thought that I would break up the boredom of waiting by stepping into my Mystery Shopper mode. I started putting out buying signals and taking time over a particular area and I was picking up product (which was dusty by the way!). Not a flicker of life from the sales assistant. Her focus on what she was doing (wow, that must be pretty important stuff she is working on!).


Now, had I not been so jetlagged I would have possibly had a little fun by moving bottles onto the floor and arranging them into some sort of pattern… a crop circle of bottles if you will.

I decided to leave. I wasn’t going to interrupt her concentration. After all, that is what most shoppers do… they are silent. I slipped out unnoticed. I walked round and looked through the window to see what she was doing. She was having a conversation on Facebook using the computer on the till.

So, there we have it. I was the invisible shopper. For the retailer, Facebook was more important than the shopper!

Key Lessons

There are many lessons here but the 3 key ones for me are:

  • Remove internet access (via PC terminals or smart phones) from the shop floor
  • Inspire staff to deliver a great experience
  • Give frontline staff the tools & confidence to be able to sell more

Remember, even your biggest fans can become a silent shopper, leaving without making a purchase. Even worse, a silent assassin – sharing their experience over a coffee with a friend or 2 and before you know it a wave of bad word of mouth publicity is affecting your business which could turn into a wildfire.

Who is the face of your retail business?

Today’s shoppers are fickle. They have a choice over where they spend their money and they are choosing to spend where they feel they connect with the retailer. Sometimes that connection is with Joe, the Saturday kid who is working to buy his beer money for that night. If they are – make sure he is trained properly and engaged with your retail vision. Spend your time selling rather than dealing with wildfires.

As ever, thank you for reading and sharing.


image: wikipedia / famartin