RICHMOND, VA – Each of the seven customers currently browsing at the Grab ‘N’ Spend grocery store on North Cary Street is a secret shopper, according to in-store loss prevention manager Todd Balto. He has been watching events unfold from the store office on closed circuit television.
“They’ve been in here, some of them, for 45 minutes, just trailing each other around,” said Balto. “They’re not buying anything, and it looks like none of them has caught on.”
Secret shoppers are persons employed by various companies to visit stores as anonymous customers, sometimes conducting market research, customer service evaluations, or loss prevention.
The Grab ‘N’ Spend grocery chain employs three different agencies to curtail shoplifting, assess associate performance and gain insights into which products appeal to consumer tastes.
The assortment of secret shoppers in the store today are attempting to perform all these tasks, unaware that the other customers they’re observing are also secret shoppers. They are also unaware that the entire staff is also alerted to their presence.
“Every once in a while one of them comes up and asks a tricky question, and the cashiers are on it,” said Balto. “I’m just glad we’ve got tape running for when an actual customer walks in here. Can’t wait to see that.”
At press time the majority of secret shoppers were apparently reading every ingredient list in the cereal aisle and exchanging suspicious glances.