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Secret Shopper Report: Essex

Warm and friendly staff

Health stores up and down the country are striving to impress their customers with bright, well-informed service and an ambience that delights. Our secret shoppers are seeking them out, and here our search resumes in the South East.

The Better Retailing Awards are run in conjunction with the Health Food institute and reward excellence in independent health store retailing. The winner is selected from the stores visited by the Better Retailing secret shoppers throughout the year.

Store location: Essex
Help in finding a multivitamin

First Impressions

The exterior of this store is clean, fresh and inviting. It looks freshly painted and the sign looks new. There is an attractive display of products in the windows, which aren’t obscured with posters, meaning that you can see inside the store. A chalk board outside welcomes customers and lists some special offers. Overall I’m very impressed and eager to go inside to have a look around.

Verdict: 9/10

Store Layout

I’m equally impressed with the interior. The exposed brick walls, polished wood floors and deli-style counter are very attractive and there is a lively buzz to the store. There are a few customers browsing the shelves and two friendly assistants who greet me as soon as I step inside. The deli counter is the first thing you see as you step into the store and it is packed with delicious looking vegan products, from dairy-free cheeses to spreads and meat substitutes. To the left of the store there is another counter where fresh food such as soups and salads is served. The till is positioned here too, along with lots of inviting looking goodies such as organic chocolates and sweets. Moving around the store, I browse the shelves that are stocked with an assortment of whole foods, organic grocery items and free-from foods. There is a range of natural bodycare products towards the back of the store and a small section dedicated to vitamins, minerals and supplements. A chiller cabinet is packed with more vegan goodies, such as pizzas and healthy ready meals.

Verdict: 8/10

Personal Attention

One of the assistants informs me that she has recently taken over the ownership of the store and intends to build up the stock of vitamins, minerals and supplements. She apologises for the fact that there is currently a limited selection. I explain that I am looking for a multivitamin because I feel that I need an extra health boost. I explain that I don’t have any particular health issues – I just feel a bit tired and in need of more energy. I add that I am unsure about which type of multivitamin to go for as there are so many options. The assistant selects Viridian’s High Five Multivitamin & Mineral Formula and tells me that this is a good all-round multivitamin for general health and wellbeing. She also shows me the Floradix range, particularly the Liquid Iron and Vitamin Formula. She suggests that this could help with my general feelings of tiredness and says that it is a favourite among her customers. The assistant asks me about my diet and I explain that I am a vegetarian who is trying to convert to veganism. We have a good chat about this topic and she gives me some useful tips, advice and recommendations. I don’t feel any pressure to buy either of the products and she leaves me to continue browsing.

Verdict: 8/10

Check Out

I decide to purchase both the Floradix formula and the Viridian product as my husband is also looking for a multivitamin and I decide that we can try one product each. The assistant asks me if I have found everything that I need and I reply that yes I have. She rings up my purchases and continues chatting to me. I am impressed by her warmth and friendliness. She comes across as very genuine and passionate about natural health and veganism in particular. I thank her for her help and she says she hopes I will return again to the store soon.

Verdict: 8/10

Overall Impression

I was very impressed with this store and would recommend it to others without hesitation. It is very attractive, fresh and inviting, with a great range of products. The staff are very warm and friendly, particularly the assistant who served me, and I was made to feel very welcome. The only slight downside that I can think of is the relatively small selection of vitamins, minerals and supplements, but this is something that the staff are working to build on. I am already planning to visit this store again in the near future and can see myself becoming a regular customer. Top marks all round!

Verdict: 8/10

Total Marks: 41/50

Read the previous Secret Shopper report here...