Secret Shopper

I think a good practice for any retail business is to hire a secret shopper or have a friend report their experience to you. We try to do it often to make sure our customer service is top notch and we have honest cash transactions. Since I have been in the optical industry I am always curious to pop into competing retailers and check out their product but I always introduce myself as an Optician. I also appreciate it when fellow Opticians let me know right away who they are so I don't search the store trying to find their perfect frame and we can just talk shop. Recently I went to the Barton Perriera store in Aspen to check out their new styles for an upcoming order I was working on. As I was greeted by the salesperson she asked me if I had ever been in the store before. I visit Aspen often and had always been intrigued by their window displays and how clean and organized the store looks but I had never been inside. After I told her I had never been in before I was prepared to identify myself as an Optician who just wanted to check out some new BP frames. She immediately started explaining the story of Barton Perriera and informing me on who the monster of Luxottica is. Instantly I changed my strategy of identifying myself and decided to act like a customer. She started pulling frames for me to try on and telling me what was great about each frame and why she liked them on me. Suddenly I realized how much I could learn from someone that was telling me everything I already knew. I asked her what she would recommend if I was going to buy something for a man. She immediately went to her go-to frames and explained why these best sellers would most definitely work for someone she had never seen before. Everything was so neat and organized and just a handful of colors were displayed while the back stock of the other colors were in the drawers underneath. After looking at the Barton P frames at the front of the store she took me into the back of the store where they have many other non Lux frames. It was like a treasure chest of unique and independent optical lines. Even though I only spent a few minutes at the store I left with a new outlook on merchandising and sales techniques. Sometimes I feel like the best way to find the perfect frame for a person is to ask lifestyle questions and find out exactly what they are looking for. Her confidence of grabbing frames and getting me to try them on right away is an icebreaker in itself, I realized lifestyle questions should be secondary. I loved the fact that she took the time to explain the store, the brand and how the company developed. And the practically empty white shelves with a spattering of frames gave the store a wide open feeling in a such a small space. After my experience at this boutique optical I am excited to poach another store and see what I can learn from a fellow Optician, secret shopper style of course!