Paresh M. Karia
Visiting Faculty at Various MBA College of Pune & Rajkot

It is also known as "Mystery Shopping industry serves to evaluate the customer service for any company that deals with customer satisfaction.  By sending in anonymous ghost shoppers that form the base on their visits to client locations.  Ghost shopping helps in evaluating the service provided by the co's channel members to its customers.  From this information co. can understand whether it is meeting, or failing to meet, it's customer's Needs. Ghost shoppers are everyday people who are visiting stores as  anonymous customers, and in the process helping these stores to better understand how they can meet customers' needs.

A "traditional" Ghost Shop includes and in-person visit to one or more of a business's locations. These assessments are typically discrete questions along with the correlated point values, as well as some narratives for clarification. However, due to advances in technology as well as evolving customer service requirements, the ability to gather data and other materials relating to a customer's experience has been significantly increased.

Ghost shopping is useful to know about the awareness of that brand, how many outlets are having this product?  Through Ghost Shopping you can get the information about the competitors like their new product launches, market share, new promotions, campaigns, etc.  Even you can check the placement of the product in the outlet, whether the product has got right place on shelf, visibility of product, how fast product is moving, impulse buying appeal of the product, etc.

Some of the benefits of Ghost shopping are listed as below:

    1. Product Placement
    2. Point of Selling
    3. Visibility
    4. Customer Demand
    5. Repurchases
    6. Brand Recall
    7. Awareness

By Ghost Shopping you can also create a false demand for the product E.g. if the product is new in the market & 10 people ask for  product the Retailer himself feels to keep the product and not to loose the customer.

Ghost Shopping can be done using the different tools:

    1. In-Person Assessments

    • Text based Report with questions, points and some narrative
    • Digital Video or Photographs are included for clarification of assessment circumstances.
    • Digital Audio can be captured to provide a more verbatim analysis of a customer's experience.

    2. Phone Surveys

    • Text based reporting to describe phone experience
    • Digital Audio can be captured to provide data, and tracking and interpreting the moves the user makes while navigating your site.

    3. Online Channel Assessment

    Special Behavioral Browser guides user to online assessment objectives, asking appropriate questions, collecting data, and tracking and interpreting the moves the user makes while navigating your site.


Many organizations are using this technique to evaluate the satisfaction level of the customers of their services offerings or to   keep an eye on their retail networks activities.  Like in the most recent survey done by ICICI Bank to check the services offered by one of its branches in Pune.  It conducted a telephonic survey asking the ghost shoppers to inquire about the different services provided by the bank to the different age groups etc.

The companies thus evaluates the responses in terms of a pointer scale which give them the idea about the fields in which they have to improve in their services to achieve more customer satisfaction.

Likewise McDonald's conducts a survey every month to keep a check on their services through ghost shopping each activity of its retail outlets.  Some of the measures, which they check on is: cleanliness of the outlet, their politeness with the customers, serving process etc.

But for this Ghost Shopping the shoppers need to be educated well to take on the reading and to scale them so that the company gets an unbiased report.

Paresh M. Karia
B.E.(Mech), MMM (Pune Uni.), F.I.V., M.I.E., MIIMM,C.E., PGDBA
Visiting Faculty at Various MBA College of Pune & Rajkot

Source : E-mail March 9, 2005




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