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Secret Shopper in lockdown

Not surprisingly, our secret shopper was forced during lockdown to find her favourite health food online and was pleasantly surprised how easy this store made her virtual shopping trip.

Store Location: East Midlands
Organic fresh fruit and veg during lockdown

First impressions

Instead of driving or cycling to buy my healthy staples, I find myself approaching this store via a search engine. A couple of clicks and I’m seeing an uncluttered homepage in muted colours with clear information about current ordering status with delivery information clearly communicated upfront. I like that so I plunge in. Rather than a ‘shop’ page, there is a mega-menu on all pages allowing me to browse different shop categories and a straightforward contact page with several options to contact them including phone and Facebook. There’s no ‘about’ page but there are some food and diet information articles. At first look it’s clear that there is a bigger range of wholefoods and natural bodycare/household products than you would find on a more mainstream website.

Verdict 8/10

Website layout

Browsing this straightforward layout, I find a wide variety of product types including fresh, ambient, bodycare, household, chilled and frozen, but a limited amount of supplements. It’s pretty easy to browse using the mega-menu. There’s also a search box which works well and returns a broad range of results pretty quickly. It looks like bestselling products are shown first. Simple product pages show image, product name, price, size options, ingredients and nutritional information. Not all products have descriptions – the shop is perhaps aimed at customers who regularly shop for wholefood products. There’s a special offers section but no offers are running at the moment. New products are flagged on the homepage and in the mega-menu.

Verdict 8/10

Personal attention

I can find no information on specific health queries (this shop is much more focused on foods than supplements) and there’s no option to find out more about a product except to use the main contact page. The homepage flags that they have been trading for 30 years as a traditional wholefoods shop. They also have their current Soil Association certificate displayed on the website. A message about current ordering/delivery status is very straightforward. ‘Contact us’ page is clear and informative. There’s no chat option or answers to specific questions so instead I read some food and diet information articles.

Verdict 7/10

Check out

Each product has to be ordered from its individual product page rather than directly from any category/search results pages, which slightly slows the process down. However, the ordering process is straightforward and works smoothly. Several payment options are offered at checkout but no additional items or services. The free delivery threshold is clearly communicated. There’s a choice of delivery (within the local delivery area) or collection from store. Delivery took a week – in keeping with information about current delivery times shown on the website and in the order confirmation email, and I receive an email on the day of delivery to let me know the order should be with me that day. I also receive an email showing which products had been out of stock when the delivery had been packed, along with confirmation of my payment. The order is packed in recycled and recyclable materials.

Verdict 8/10

Overall impression

The site is friendly with all information presented in a straightforward, down-to-earth way although I don’t get a sense of ‘community’. No feedback options are given. I’m happy with the service – no bells and whistles, just a focus on a simple ordering process and information about the physical shop.

Verdict 8/10

Total marks 39/50

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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.