D-J Associates Rolls Out Multichannel Secret Shopper Service

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D-J Associates entered the rollout phase of the multichannel secret shopper service for marketers that it launched in beta about one year ago, the company said yesterday.

"As a company working with marketers in all channels, part of what made us start the service was that we saw multichannel marketers as really reactive instead of proactive in terms of what they need to focus on and improve," said Kathy Duggan-Josephs, president of D-J Associates, Ridgefield, CT.

For example, a company having a problem with items being backordered or a specific customer complaint will address that on the back end as opposed to preventing those issues in the first place, she said.

"Marketers don't have the ability most times to look at the whole picture and make sure the entire shopping experience is what the customer needs and wants," she said. "The way we do our shops and the way we report, you get that whole picture."

D-J Associates teamed with a technical partner to launch the secret shopper service as a joint effort. Professional shoppers are used to place catalog orders via telephone, make purchases online and shop in brick-and-mortar locations. They are trained to assess all aspects of their interactions with the marketers and use a checklist of about 200 touch points to evaluate their experience.

Aside from using the service to discover their weaknesses, marketers also can compare what they are doing versus competitors and to determine what they do well.

So far, about half a dozen marketers signed up. Marketers do not need to be D-J Associates clients to use the service. Price is based on volume but a certain number of shops are needed to get the big picture.

"We do suggest a minimum number of 10 shops a month so that there is validity to the information," Duggan-Josephs said. "That really is a minimum because we need to place orders, return merchandise and exchange merchandise. We need to do it on different days of the week and at different times of the day."

A minimum number of shops can cost about $9,000 a year, she said.

As far as similar services, she said that some do catalogs and some do retail but that she was unaware of another company doing catalog, Web and retail. Further information on the secret shopper service is available from D-J Associates at 203/431-8777.

Kristen Bremner covers list news, insert media, privacy and fundraising for DM News and DMNews.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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