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Test purchase investigations, also known as test purchases or mystery shopping, involve a controlled process where an investigator, acting as a regular customer, purchases goods or services from a business to evaluate various aspects of its operations. These investigations are commonly used in industries such as retail, hospitality, and consumer goods to assess compliance with regulations, service quality, employee performance, and adherence to company policies. Test purchases also cover several other areas of investigation: 

  • Purpose: Test purchase investigations aim to evaluate the customer experience, product quality, adherence to legal requirements, and overall performance of a business. They provide valuable insights into areas that may need improvement and help identify potential issues or areas of concern.
  • Process: During a test purchase investigation, an investigator, often referred to as a mystery shopper, visits the business premises or interacts with the business online as a regular customer. The investigator follows a predefined scenario, which may include specific tasks, questions, or criteria to evaluate.
  • Anonymity: Mystery shoppers typically maintain anonymity to ensure that their presence does not influence the behaviour of employees or affect the outcome of the evaluation. They may use covert methods to blend in with regular customers and avoid detection.
  • Evaluation Criteria: Test purchase investigations are conducted based on predefined evaluation criteria, which may vary depending on the objectives of the investigation. Common evaluation criteria include customer service, product knowledge, fraud, criminality, cleanliness, compliance with regulations, pricing accuracy, and overall satisfaction.
  • Documentation: Mystery shoppers document their observations, interactions, and experiences during the test purchase using standardised forms or checklists provided by the investigating organization. Detailed notes and observations are recorded to support the findings of the investigation.
  • Reporting: After completing the test purchase, the mystery shopper submits a report detailing their findings, observations, and recommendations. The report may include qualitative feedback, quantitative ratings, photographic evidence, and any other relevant information gathered during the investigation.
  • Use Cases: Test purchase investigations are used by businesses to assess and improve various aspects of their operations, including customer service training, employee performance evaluations, compliance monitoring, brand consistency, and competitive benchmarking.

Benefits: By conducting test purchase investigations, businesses can identify areas for improvement, enhance the customer experience, maintain regulatory compliance, and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. These investigations provide actionable insights that can drive strategic decision-making and operational improvements.

Test Purchases