Mystery shoppers can help keep in person purchases popular

In an age of online shopping, the in-person experience may be the key to a business' success.

In an age of online shopping, the in-person experience may be the key to a business' success. Mystery shoppers can help ensure that this experience is the best it can be.

Marketing Charts relayed the telling details  held in the "UPS Pulse of the Online Shopper" survey that studied online shoppers and their opinions on various criteria, including shipping costs. An overwhelming majority of respondents, 88 percent, admitted to reaching the point of checkout before deciding against making any purchase at all. Just over half of those that left their carts said that high shipping costs were the reason.

Unfortunately for online shoppers, both FedEx and UPS will soon be calculating both weight and size when determining the cost of a shipment, reported the International Business Times. Previously, these shippers focused primarily on a package's weight. Though the exact cost increase that customers will see is yet to be determined, it is possible that either the retailer or the buyer - or both - will end up paying more for the same product and delivery time. Since a whopping 68 percent of participants in the UPS study said that free shipping would be their reason for giving an online retailer a positive review, it's likely these price hikes won't go over well.

A June 2014 Harris Poll of American adults confirmed that perhaps this online shopping trend isn't the most popular way to buy. Over half of consumers prefer shopping for clothing, groceries, medications, cosmetics and household electronics in person. Only 22 percent preferred shopping for personal electronics online.

There is also the matter of returns. The Harris Poll revealed that 49 percent of buyers decided not to follow through on a purchase if they were told any returns would have to be made to a store in person rather than sending it back in the mail. Being unhappy with products, either because they do not fit well or look like their photo online, presents another troublesome issue for online shoppers that may sway their tendency to use the Internet for purchases.  

In terms of the mystery shopping market, this means that the customer service experience inside a place of business is more important than ever. Retailers are competing with online shopping carts, but perhaps not as well as they may think.

Mystery shoppers are essential for taking the in-person customer experience from good to exceptional and keeping offline businesses thriving.