Networking in Surrey

Mystery Shopper as a powerful tool to understand store and product acceptance

Grass Roots, a well known research agency recently published interesting research using the ‘mystery shopper’ methodology as a tool. This is a summary of their findings...

Part of the global Wal-Mart family, ASDA has been trading for over 40 years in the UK. The service that ASDA provides is a fundamental differentiator from its competitors, however, the challenge is driving consistency of service across the various customer touchpoints, including in store and online. 

Grass Roots secured an employee engagement programme in 2008 incorporating learning and reward elements, as well as rebranding its mystery shopping. Branded ‘Always Happy to Help’, the new programme was cascaded to 100,000 colleagues to coincide with the results of the refreshed mystery shopping. In 2010 ASDA decided to extend the programme to cover all aspects of their customer offering.

Grass Roots relaunched the programme – branded ‘Happy to Help Every Day’ - building on the ethos of the previous work and incorporating new elements that assessed the customer experience across different channels. The core mystery shopping programme covers all 380 stores, focussing on what is most important to customers and the touchpoints they are most likely to interact with.

To support ASDA’s ongoing expansion into the online grocery market, bi-monthly home delivery assessments are now included. Stores are provided with a targeted and granular view of their delivery experience and regional and head office teams receive a summary of the end-to-end customer experience. Another addition is a measure of ASDA’s customer experience of queues.

With service at the check-outs pivotal and queues a major “bug bear” of all customers, assessing stores’ adherence to procedure allows the client to provide the best experience and focus on staffing levels in these areas. Every store is measured twice a month to cover the different trading conditions at the weekend and during the week.

Mystery shopping results are communicated weekly to stores and powerful, graphical summary reports are sent to display in store. Action points relate directly to store performance and areas for improvement. Management reports show trends, comparisons and key focus areas helping ASDA to maintain high service levels and customer satisfaction.

Each month, high achievers receive an instant reward scratch card. Where a store scores 100% all colleagues assessed are recognised with the reward card which is issued in team meetings.


As a result ASDA has seen a significant improvement in queue waiting times following the new measure.


In 2010 ASDA moved into the convenience market by acquiring 170 Netto stores. Grass Roots worked with the client to incorporate them into the core programme and to focus on the different requirements shoppers may have at these stores.


Mystery Shopper is a well established methodology and allows to get a snapshot of your retail business by somebody of your target group. It is a quick and efficient way to address underlying weaknesses of your store layout or the product arrangements. Most problems can be eliminated quite quickly.

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