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Secret Shopper Report: Gloucestershire

Well stocked but too impersonal

Here’s looking at you! Our Secret Shoppers are hunting up and down the land, looking for the best UK health food stores. They give marks out of 10 in five categories, here inspecting a large, supermarket-style health store.

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: Gloucestershire
Help in finding an omega-3 supplement

First Impressions

The exterior of this store is very smart indeed. It looks freshly painted and very neat, with a bright, inviting colour scheme and large windows giving a glimpse of the store inside. The opening times are painted on the windows in a bright yellow hue, along with a few descriptive words such as “natural”, “organic” and “produce”. I really can’t fault the outside of the store at all, although perhaps it might benefit from a chalk board advertising special offers, or something similar.

Verdict: 9/10

Store Layout

I note that the interior looks very similar to a conventional supermarket. The store is huge and divided into several aisles, beginning with organic fruit and veg and then moving on to chilled and frozen foods, grocery items, vitamins, minerals and supplements, and bodycare. The store is very busy, with a number of customers browsing the aisles with baskets full of shopping. It seems to be the kind of store where you could easily do a weekly shop. The fruit and veg section is quite big, while the chilled section is full of natural, organic, free from and vegan goodies. I note that there is a wide selection of dairy-free milks, spreads and “cheeses”. Each aisle is clearly labelled which really helps with navigating my way around the store. The supplements section is a bit on the small side, but there is still a good range of products to choose from.

Verdict: 8/10

Personal Attention

There are several assistants busily stacking the shelves and going to and from the back of the store. There is one assistant on the till. I am not greeted as I enter the shop, nor as I browse around. I keep waiting to see whether an assistant will ask if I need help, but it doesn’t happen. I spend several minutes peering at the supplements section, and in the end I find an assistant and ask her to help me. I explain that I am looking to buy an omega-3 supplement but I don’t know which one to go for. The assistant asks me whether I am vegetarian or vegan and I reply that I am vegetarian. She explains that more and more customers are interested in vegan supplements and that this is something she is asked about regularly. She picks out Viridian’s Omega 3:6:9 oil and explains that this is a good vegan option as it is made from a combination of oils including flaxseed, hemp and avocado.

Verdict: 6/10

Check Out

I make my way to the checkout with my purchase and see that the till area has lots of interesting point-of-sale goodies to entice shoppers like me. There are lots of magazines and information lea.ets at hand for shoppers to pick up, as well as a notice board full of information about local therapists. Unfortunately, the checkout process is a bit of a letdown as the assistant doesn’t really speak to me at all. I don’t even get a hello or a smile and it just feels like a transaction with no personal service.

Verdict: 4/10

Overall Impression

I leave the store with mixed feelings. The store itself is excellent – very well stocked, with a huge range of products to choose from, and extremely presentable both on the inside and the outside. But, sadly, the lack of customer service lets this store down.

Verdict: 6/10

Total Marks 33/50

Read the previous Secret Shopper report here...