For independent grocers and the wholesalers that serve them
Hi Jenn, as a consumer researcher, I will give a quick word of advice. Secret Shopper programs are great for making sure that people in your stores are following policy. They are not going to tell you if that policy is a good one or not. So, it's important to determine up front if you want to measure 1) Are people doing things right? OR 2) Are people doing the right things? Those are two very different questions...
Mystery or secret shopper programs are a great tool to ensure operational compliance. So if the goal is to check how well people are adhering to standards or procedures, mystery shopping works well for that. However, I will also tell you (having been involved in managing a major mystery shopping program for a large retailer) that the limited number of shops per store is an issue to consider, as well as what happens when the store staff start to know who the mystery shoppers are and "act differently" towards them. Another tool you might consider would be an automated feedback program that invites shoppers to provide feedback (by phone and web) via an invite that prints on the register receipt. In the organization above, we migrated away from mystery shopping to this type of program and the hundreds of actual customer feedback touch points received per store have been invaluable. These types of programs can also work hand-in-hand. Hope this helps!