Retailers routinely pay mystery shoppers to evaluate their stores on a specific set of criteria. They rate their experience in everything from the availability of sale items to the cleanliness of the changing rooms. What do you, as an affiliate, want to know about your merchants? Have a contest and recruit some mystery shoppers from your target group, give them an assignment to buy a product in a certain category at several merchants or and have them tell you specifically about their experiences, in depth, with a certain merchant. Depending upon the product, pay them or pay for the product they buy.
Ask about the feel and experience at a site, the product depth and breadth, displays and descriptions, product reviews and rankings, customer service, both interactive and email, shopping carts, payment options, bonus gifts, gift wrap, special offers, delivery experiences, returns. Have them tell you what they expected to find at a merchant, but didn’t. If they’ve been to a competitor, ask specifically what’s better and worse at your affiliate site.
Use the results to swap one merchant’s affiliate program for another, understand where you need to do product and service reviews of your own and where they’re unnecessary. Decide if there are merchants you should contact to discuss service expectations – in most cases they want to know what they should fix in order to encourage their own return customers. Find gaps and add new merchants, even if it’s just for one very hot product. The market never stays exactly the same, nor do service levels and merchant focus. By fine tuning on a regular basis you can stay relevant to your visitors and ahead of the competition.
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