3 things mystery shoppers should look for this season

Mystery shoppers can help retailers improve their holiday business.

It may be early November, but there's no doubt that the holiday shopping season is already in full swing. Retailers across the U.S. are pulling out all the stops to entice holiday shoppers to their stores. Because this is such a hectic time, many shops have hired seasonal labor, and that could potentially cause a decline in customer service experience. To head off that problem, many retailers will turn to mystery shoppers. With the data and input they receive from mystery shoppers, retailers will be able to fine tune their training sessions and create a better environment for customers.

Here's what mystery shoppers should look for when visiting retailers during the holiday season:

1. Look at the price tags
Retailers should strive to be straightforward and honest when it comes to their sale prices. Should the prices be hard to find or ambiguous, it could drive away potential customers. There's a reason that big red sale signs are so ubiquitous, after all. They work well to attract customers and encourage purchasing habits. As a mystery shopper, you should look at price tags and sale signs to determine if the retailer is being transparent. Shoppers who flock to a store promising huge sales are sure to be disappointed when those sales turn out to be only a few percentage points off the regular price.

Mystery shoppers can also test customer services. Mystery shoppers can also test customer service.

2. Check availability of customer service
Foresee recommended that retailers make their customer service information visible and clear to all shoppers. This is especially key during the rush of the holiday season. More often than during other times of the year, shoppers will be purchasing items for others, and that will inevitably mean that some purchases are returned or exchanged. Mystery shoppers should look for the customer service department at the physical store and they should also check out the company's website for further information. On a related note, mystery shoppers should inquire about the store's return policy.

3. Take notice of product selection
As BrightPearl noted, retailers do best when they have an ample selection of best-selling products. Do some research into which products are most in demand this season and check to see if the store has enough products. If the shelves empty out too early before Christmas, it could be difficult to fill them again - and that means the store is leaving money on the table. Mystery shoppers can assess whether or not the store has enough products to meet the demands of the season. Shoppers should also look to see if accessory products are available. For instance, if a toy requires batteries, is it difficult to locate the batteries in the store? Or are they near enough to the toys? These small details can have a huge impact on customers.

Retailers need the best possible information to beat out the competition. Mystery shoppers can play an important role in discovering new ways to improve the business.