Mystery Shopping: B2B Vs Retail

12 Dec Mystery Shopping: B2B Vs Retail


Mystery Shopping: B2B Versus Retail

Most research buyers associate mystery shopping with research on retail outlets (bank branches, restaurants, department stores, etc.) What is less commonly known is that mystery shopping can be an effective research tool within the B2B arena, delivering insights that no other research tool (like surveys, Big Data) can provide.

B2B mystery shopping, however, does have specific challenges that must be met in order to provide the research buyer with a high quality deliverable.

Below is a table comparing B2B mystery shopping with its traditional retail counterpart:



1.      Relatively easy to recruit shoppers

1.      More time and effort required to recruit shoppers, especially those who are professionals or have managerial positions

2.      Relatively easy to train shoppers

2.      More time to train shoppers to understand objectives and to make them aware of possible risks (e.g. target companies may look up their LinkedIn profiles to ensure they are who they say they are)

3.      Relatively easy to have same shoppers make several trips to the same location to gather corroborated information

3.      Each shopper may have only one opportunity to shop a competitor, especially if the one shop involves a sales presentation by a sales representative

4.      Several visits at different times may be required to develop a comprehensive profile of a retail location, e.g. customer service quality may differ between busy shopping times versus times when it is quieter

4.      As mentioned above, there may be only opportunity to shop a competitor

5.      Many shoppers and lower pay

5.      Fewer shoppers but much higher pay, especially if the shoppers are professionals (like physicians and lawyers) or senior management personnel

6.      Shoppers do the research on their spare time

6.      Shoppers may do the research on company time

7.      Wide bandwidth, relatively shallow analysis: Gathering information on a wide range of data points, but the analysis is often superficial

7.      Narrow bandwidth, deep analysis: Gathering information on a small number of data points, but the analysis is quite deep as the shoppers drills down to find/elicit important data

8.      Analysis and report often leads to minor changes in product and service offerings

8.      Analysis and report could potentially lead to significant changes in strategy as well as product and service offerings


As can be seen in the table, B2B mystery shopping is a much more intense version of the research methodology.

The potential for significant strategic changes are much higher with B2B mystery shopping than with most other research methodologies


© Enrico Codogno 12 December 2017


Enrico Codogno, Principal Consultant, Customer Foresight

[email protected]



customer foresight group


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