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I was chosen as the Target Mystery Shopper and would like to extend my deepest thanks to AU Mystery Shopper for choosing me, and giving me this opportunity. I chose to shop at the Target in Burnie, Tasmania as this was the closest super store to me. I parked in their rear parking, which was paid parking. As we pulled into a parking spot we were hit with another bout of severe rain. I was, however, quite pleasantly surprised by how clean the carpark was. I had expected there to be litter and debris from the severe weather we have had in the last couple of days but it was one of the cleaner carparks I’ve seen. Parking was easy.
The entry was easy access, clean, and had overhead coverage to protect against the weather. On entering, the store was inviting; the aisles were a good width and clean. To the left were a number of readily available shopping trolleys. I grabbed one and entered into the Entertainment section and browsed through the aisles of DVD’s, picking up a number of movies and one TV series. I was after a Blu Ray player and was unsure where to go as it was my first time in the store so I approached the lady at the counter opposite to the DVD section to ask for her help. She wasn’t exactly sure as it wasn’t her department but exited from behind the desk to show me down to the counter where someone could help me. Another customer stumbled between us before we got too far, I asked if she was alright and she said, “I need to sit down” before hurrying out of the rear entry/exit to sit on the bench outside of the store. The woman that had been helping me pointed to where the service desk was where someone could help me and asked if I was alright to find that so that she could see to the lady who had rushed out the rear ill.
When I got down to the service desk the lady working, Jackie, was serving another customer so I browsed. When she was free she asked if I was alright. Unfortunately the Blu Ray player that I was after was out of stock. Jackie suggested that I could try online through them and pick up in store for free. She was friendly, apologetic that the item was out of stock, and then proceeded to go out of her way to find a couple of movies I was after but couldn’t find myself. When we had found what I was after she offered me further assistance with a friendly smile. From there we went to the Homewares section where I found a book. My daughter browsed for an engagement present and ended up finding quite a few bargains in clearance items that were all clearly marked and easy to find. The wok that I purchased was one of many choices available – and something I had been after for a long time. Prices were all clearly marked.
After Homewares we went to the women’s clothing section. The garments were well displayed; the different departments within women’s clothing i.e. lingerie, active wear, sleepwear, etc. were all clearly labelled and were spread out quite well. The clearance racks in the women’s department were crowded together and well-stocked. I found some singlet tops easily and there were plenty of sizes available. Next I ventured down to the Accessories looking for a pair of sunglasses. I tried multiple pairs on before choosing a pair that were comfortable and suited me. Then I went to the men’s clothing in search of flannel shirts. Again, varying sizes were readily available. I got one for $15, which was at sale price. I chose to only get one of these because the material was a little thinner than I would have liked. From there I proceeded to checkout. The lady who served me greeted me in a friendly manner. She started to scan my items as soon as my daughter unpacked them from our trolley. She proceeded to pack the items, taking care of breakable items. One item didn’t have a barcode. While another staff member went to retrieve the code she politely offered to suspend my order and put my daughter’s through so as not to hold up more customers. I had no trouble using my vouchers as payment; she offered to process them for me as I didn’t have my glasses on me. Once both myself and my daughter were finished we grabbed our bags and were farewelled by the security guard at the door.
I was happy to be chosen to be a mystery shopper for AU Mystery Shopper and my voucher was for Westelm. I visited the Brisbane Westelm store on James St on a Monday in August at approximately 9.30am.
Westelm Brisbane is situated in a great social hub in NewFarm. It’s within walking distance to cafes, boutiques, deli & fresh food, so location was easy to find and get to. It was easy to find a space in the carpark and didn’t have to worry about finding street parking. On my visit, I had my two young daughters with me and one of them was in a pram. The main Westelm entrance only had steps but I walked around the front of the building and went through the PotteryBarn entrance where there was a ramp.
It was an easy walk just around the corner of the building, so it wasn't a big deal at all. The pathways are all cobblestone style and everything was neat and tidy with greenery and clear signage. There was no rubbish or anything out of place.
As I entered I was greeted from a staff member with a “good morning” and smile. I wandered through the Pottery Barn kids section then entered Westelm at the rear of the space (It is one big building/shop with clear distinctive divided sections for each brand). I love west elm so it was fun to just wander through the whole store and take in all the new products and ranges they had. From homewards Everything is categorised clearly and displayed well. The shelving was full and well stocked. There was a clearly signed sale section. Larger items have easily visible price tags and smaller items are clearly labeled. I wasn’t bothered by staff at all, but each one gave me a smile as I wandered around. I like to wander at my own pace, so I didn’t mind this at all. One staff member did strike up a friendly chatter to my daughter when she tried out a beanbag. She was friendly and asked if I needed anything, but at that stage I had found the things I was after.
I bought a navy wool throw, a gold hostess set, kids cutlery set and small dip bowl. The quality and value for quality of the products I bought was excellent. The store wasn’t overly busy the morning I was there. When I was finished with my purchases, I headed to the designated Westelm counter. There was no one in the queue and I was served by a friendly staff member (her name badge was covered by her cardigan so didn’t get her name). She was helpful and suggested a product that might help round out my purchase. It was packaged nicely and the fragile items wrapped. There was a manager needed to finalise my purchase. She was the same woman who had chatted to my daughter earlier. She was very friendly and helpful and we got everything finalised. Overall I was really happy with my experience! I’ll be back Westelm! : )
Store visited: Aldi Fairy Meadow, NSW Date visited: Sunday 26 March, 2017 – 3pm. I visited my local Aldi store on a Sunday afternoon. My mother (an avid Woolworths shopper) accompanied me. On driving into the store carpark, it was moderately busy. Finding a carspace was easy enough. I noticed rubbish littered around the carpark, mainly parking ticket receipts and a few shop receipts (refer photos). The ticket concept for parking at Aldi is quite inconvenient, and I think it puts some people off from shopping there. Having to park, walk to a ticket station, return to the car and then go to the store: its time consuming (for busy people) and inconvenient (especially for the less mobile), and especially when raining. We obtained a trolley. I like Aldi’s concept of requiring a coin to get a trolley. This ensures trolleys are returned and don’t litter the carpark. Perhaps it would be useful for Aldi to have a sign outside by the trolleys that advises people they can purchase a token inside (if they don’t have coins to hand). This would be handy for first-timers to Aldi and encourage larger purchases as trolleys are more accessible to everyone. Inside the store it was fairly busy with a constant stream of foot traffic.
There was again some litter in the store, mainly paper and a few tissues on the ground throughout. It needed a good sweep and mop and had an overall “grubby” feel. The shop layout is familiar to me, I feel it has a logical flow. It was my mum’s first visit to Aldi. She commented on how the aisles were very narrow. She is used to shopping at Woolworths and said it felt “cramped” inside Aldi: a combination of the narrow aisles and large trolleys. Having been to the new Aldi store in nearby Wollongong, it is evident to me that Fairy Meadow needs a similar re-vamp. I would expect (hope) Aldi would bring all of their stores up to scratch with the same new layout in order to achieve consistency of experience across their stores, so expect (again, hope!) the Fairy Meadow store will receive a makeover soon. The Special Offers were clearly labelled (see photos). Most were neatly stacked, however the clothes section was appalling (see photos). My mum noted how badly displayed and non-inviting they were, strewn within their display area. Items were out of their packaging and carelessly thrown around by (presumably) other shoppers. It did not make us want to have a closer look. I found there to be enough gaps on the shelves for me to notice. Mainly because my favourite gnocchi and yoghurt were both unavailable. There seemed to be a lot of yoghurt missing and the tissue area was also poorly and incorrectly stocked (see photos – incorrect product under pricing). Bread was also on the low side (refer photos), which was concerning as it’s a stock standard commodity that most people would want to buy.
I asked a shop assistant (“Phoebe”) where the yoghurt was, she was attentive to my question and went to a nearby pallet of food that was about to be re-stocked onto the shelves but it wasn’t there. She apologised and advised it should be back in stock by tomorrow. She was by all means pleasant and answered my question, but didn’t go “above and beyond” with any niceties. My mum commented on the appearance of the goods on the shelves – something a new Aldi shopper would be privy to (as a regular Aldi shopper, it just seems “normal” to me). She said the overall feel of the store was “scruffy”. The goods being displayed still in their boxes gave it a messy feel. You have to dig around to find what you’re after. I spent a good minute rifling through the gnocchi to try and find the variety I like – to no avail (see photos). When my mum mentioned the boxes I did have to agree with her: they do make the overall feel of the store seem rough. I realise this is a time saving exercise to cut down on staff costs, but Aldi may find if they stocked the shelves properly they might win the more fussy of customers and entice them over from Woolworths and Coles. I also found the pricing tickets to be confusing. The yellow “down” arrow on the red tickets make the shopper think it is referring to the product below it (as it’s pointing down), when in actual fact I think it is referring to a price drop? I would reconsider the design of these as they really proved to be confusing throughout our shopping experience.
We had to really study the tickets to ascertain which products they were referring to. Furthermore, the layout makes it hard for all people to find items eg. an elderly lady asked me soon after entering the store to help her find the tinned mushrooms. She thought they were on the top shelf and she couldn’t see them (she was short), but the layout made it hard for her to find what she wanted. She could have easily walked away empty handed if I hadn’t helped her. Another layout observation was the pallets of goods that were blocking key walkways (see photos). Staff need to ensure these are unpacked promptly to open up the aisles for customers to move around freely and have a good experience. This caused frustration and bottlenecks for customers moving throughout the store. Another observation was in the freezer area, my mum noticed that ice was forming in many of the freezers which needed defrosting. She also tried to open a freezer door and found it to be very stiff/heavy to open and close. This was challenging for a 65 year old woman, so I imagine other customers this age and older would also struggle with this. Once we were finished with our shopping, we approached the til area. There were 3 checkouts open, and as we started unloading on the conveyor belt a fourth one opened. We had one person in front of us, who was served very quickly so we didn’t wait long. The attendant (“Taryn”) was again pleasant, but did not go “above and beyond” with the pleasantries. She was efficient and by all means friendly, but could have engaged us in conversation as she processed our full trolley. She did not ask to help us with our packing (I noted she was quite pregnant) but that said, I have never been asked if I wanted help with my packing previously – this would’ve been a nice touch. I always feel rushed when I get to the checkout and under pressure by the staff to pack and move on quickly – even if I only have a few items with me! It can be a stressful end to the experience and I’m a fairly young and nimble shopper. I imagine this would be especially stressful for older shoppers and should be something Aldi addresses with their staff. As a new Aldi shopper, my mum commented afterwards that it would’ve been nice to have been offered the option to purchase a reusable shopping bag.
As a new shopper she wasn’t aware that bags were available for purchase, and said it would’ve been good if they had offered her one to buy (she didn’t see them hidden underneath the conveyor belt). This would be a good upsell tool. The interaction with the staff in-store matches my general experience of the staff at Aldi. While they answer your questions and do the job that is required of them, I haven’t experienced anyone who has gone above the call of duty and out of their way to be friendly and provide exceptional service. This was also something my mum commented on – how at Woolworths the staff seem to be friendlier and engage you in conversation. I am very happy with the quality of the items I purchased. The meat is of high quality, and the cleaning products are very good. The bread is great and I really like the Aldi tuna. I also purchased the night face cream and look forward to trying this as I have heard good things. I would rate my overall experience as 3/5. I would have ranked it higher at 4/5 if my favourite products had been in stock. I have come to accept that Aldi is a slightly different (lesser?) experience than that at Woolworths and Coles – but that the price savings more than make up for it.
For me I come to accept the experience as-is, but believe there are some simple tweaks Aldi could make to elevate the entire customer experience and potentially attract the higher end customer they are currently losing to Woolworths and Coles. My mum ranked her experience as a 2.5/5. She noted that she wouldn’t go back there to shop. She is a die-hard Woolworths fan, but I think if the store was spruced up a little (renovated as per the Wollongong store), the customer service improved and the stock was more attractively presented you may be able to win her and other similar customers over.