Mystery Service

Many multichannel retailers continue to miss opportunities to woo customers. The Chicago-based e-tailing group’s 2004 back-to-school Mystery Shopping survey of 25 retailers finds that although 14.3% of consumers planned to do their back-to-school shopping online — 4.3% more than last year — many of the attractive features that multichannel retailers offer online are frequently less than satisfactory in a brick-and-mortar environment.

For instance, mystery shoppers who shopped online and picked up or returned purchases in the store found that their in-store experience was frequently frustrated by “store associates who were distracted, multi-tasking and often conversing with co-workers or friends”; by the fact that pick-up counters were designated in only 50% of stores; by the need in many stores to check out items again that had already been checked out online; and by a store failure rate of 25% at having items ready and waiting to go.

The survey does cite definite improvements over last year, especially in terms of speed of returning online purchases in stores and a 22% increase in cross-channel marketing indicators. For more information, visit