Mystery Solved: How to Successfully Reopen in 2021

Aakash Kumar
Founder & CEO
March 3, 2021

This month marks one year since the U.S. went into lockdown to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. To say 2020 was “challenging” is an understatement especially for the retail and hospitality industries. From a customer perspective in-person shopping and dining experiences  haven’t  been easy either.

As cities open mass vaccination sites and more clinics have access to vaccines, we’ll continue to see the number of people getting vaccinated rise and the U.S. could potentially reopen sooner than most anticipated. If this is the case, the retail and hospitality industries will have to pivot yet again with new guidelines, but this time with a brighter outlook to permanently reopen.

So, what does re-opening in 2021 really mean for the retail and hospitality industries? 

New In-person Shopping Experiences  

Recently several states announced timelines to reopen at 100% capacity. While many retailers are in agreement others aren’t so sure. For an entire year companies adapted their business models and operations to state guidelines and now they need to re-strategize to fully reopen. Many businesses will have to retrain employees, while others have had to make the tough decisions to downsize and will need to rehire and train.   

Businesses need to be proactive and train their employees for “new in-person customer experiences.” Businesses also need to measure success and get insight if their employees are meeting customer expectations. One-way companies can do this is by utilizing Shiftsmart’s mystery shoppers program.  

Drive Insight with Mystery Shoppers 

Shiftsmart worked with a Retail Operations team of an industry-leading, Fortune 500 technology company who needed greater visibility into third-party retail operations and insights into how well their training efforts were performing during COVID. A mystery shopping program was launched that gave valuable insight and high-level metrics to prove their work ultimately led to more sales in-store. 

Through this experience, Shiftsmart’s team gained a window into consumer and staff knowledge, store rep behavior, and the perception of their products in the field. The team was able to track recommendations and knowledge rates which allowed them to measure how well training was working and make necessary adjustments. These included deciding on key messages at a global and local level as well as understanding how specific training techniques translated to the retail experience. 

Mystery Shoppers Deliver Key Metrics Around the World 

The Retail Operations team of this Fortune 500 company had access to Shiftsmart’s global labor pool of over 400k workers. Shiftsmart’s Global Mystery Shopping Program covered over 10,000 locations for 30 retailers in 17 countries. 

The mystery shopping program delivered on four key areas:

  • Scale: As a “startup” within the parent organization, the Retail Operations team for the lightweight product was growing fast. They needed a partner who could deliver on the expansion of their program into more retailers and new countries in months, not years.
  • Customization: Each region enjoyed the autonomy to build their own teams and make their own investments. That meant that the mystery shopping program needed to work with unique stakeholders and strategies in over a dozen different countries.
  • Standardization: At the same time, the organization’s executive leadership wanted consistent key metrics that they could use to benchmark against time and compare markets. Shiftsmart created and executed against two KPIs that reflected the direct results of the program across all geos.
  • Depth of insights: The team’s specific blend of customized and standardized requirements demanded tailor-made insights, not off-the-shelf deliverables. Taken together, these elements added up to a comprehensive program that gave the Retail Operations team meaningful data and actionable feedback that they could use to improve their business.

Shiftsmart Can Drive Results with Mystery Shoppers 

The Shiftsmart mystery shopping program provided the Fortune 500 technology company’s Retail Operations team with valuable insight into their global retail shopping experience through a deep understanding of what was happening in-store. 

One notable key metric achieved by the Retail Operations team is that before the mystery shopping program, most retailers across North America scored below 70% on their knowledge scores and within seven months, all US, Canada, and UK retailers scored above 70% in knowledge. Overall the Shiftsmart mystery shopping service generated quantifiable, business-level results that led to increased sales by 33% in the US for a particular lightweight product and product recommendations increased by 44% from sales associates. 

Shiftsmart’s modern workforce can help with a better business experience as you reopen during COVID with our mystery shopping programs that will deliver a positive shopping experience for your customers. Visit or email to learn more about our range of custom business audit solutions.

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