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A legitimate secret shopping group might seem like a relatively easy thing to find. The internet alone can give you hundreds of different options. In fact, a number of them might seem like the perfect choice because they offer very low rates. But there is a marked difference between choosing any shopping service and the one that perfect for your business needs.
Over the past few years, the number of covert shopping companies has drastically increased. This is because anonymous shopping is no longer just limited to retail – today, a range of different corporations use these services to get a clear picture of how their operations are working. Apart from retail outlets, hotels, restaurants and a number of non-profit organizations, all use these services. The reason for this is very simple – employing a secret shopper gives you an impartial perspective of what things are like from the viewpoint of your consumer. Since more people are using these services, it is not difficult to find a company that specializes in a particular field.
This should be the first thing to look for in a legitimate secret shopping tool – a company that has expertise in your market. If for example, you run a chain of restaurants and want to hire a secret shopper your assessment needs are going to be very different from a retail shopping assignment. Hiring a company that knows about your field can really make a world of difference, right from planning out your shopping assignment to the actual execution. Ideally, you should look for a company that has hands-on experience as well as a list of clientele that has been with them for a number of years.
The Outsourcing Factor
Legitimate secret groups, like many businesses today, end up outsourcing some of their work. The end shopper or evaluator, in particular, is usually hired on a contractual basis. While this is to be expected, it is also a good idea to stick with companies that do not outsource too much of their work. For example, it is best to avoid services that outsource their editing, scheduling or fact-checking work. This is important for two reasons – one, outsourcing at this level could compromise the security and confidentiality of the data collected. Secondly, the work itself would not be as thorough compared to that of a full-time employee.
When it comes to checking out shoppers with a shopping service, its best to make sure they are paid a fee. Some less-scrupulous companies will only pay their evaluators a reimbursement fee. Make sure the company also has a valid physical address and phone number that is within the country. Its also a good idea to avoid shopping services that actively advertise themselves – most of these end up to be scams.
It is also a good idea to ask around about different shopping services before you decide on one. Asking other businesses about which service they use can be very helpful, especially if you are looking for a service that specializes in your market. Apart from that, make sure that you have a clear idea of what you want this shopping assignment to do for you. In order to do this, do a thorough assessment of your business situation. Are there areas that need improvement Are there areas where there just is not enough consumer feedback If you have a clear idea what your needs are, it will be that much easier to draw up a shopping plan.
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