Secret shopping in Lockdown 2.0

For several years now, Better Retailing Magazine has set the standard for shopping by stealth to find the great, the good or even the average health food retailers. Now New Natural Business picks up the baton. And during lockdown 2, it has to be a store with an online shop...

Store location: Cumbria
Enquiry: Omega-3 supplements

First impressions

Having run out of my favoured brand of Omega-3s, I turn to the trusty search engine to see what’s out there. What I want is an inviting and friendly home page with a clear layout, attractive colour scheme and responsive design so I can order on my phone. Glad to say, I find a shop that actually had me humming a happy tune.

The shop page is attractively laid out with image links to a large variety of product categories, while the contact page has clear contact info and shop opening times along with a link to their Facebook page. The about page gives some info on the shop’s history plus information on the products and services available in-store. There are directions and a Google map – but I want to buy online, so off I go, drawn in by a wide range of products and a friendly tone.

Verdict: 9/10

Website layout

Lots of product categories, covering food, supplements, bodycare and household products, clearly laid out so it’s easy to find specific product types. A product category menu might be a useful addition, as product categories are reached via browsing back to the shop page. However, attractive product category images show actual products, encouraging me to browse.

Search option is shown on all shop pages and quickly returns relevant results including both products and articles related to my searches. Also, the product pages show details such as ingredients, allergens and nutritional information.

Products can be added to the shopping basket directly from the shop category pages as well as from the product pages. Sadly, no special offers.

Verdict: 9/10

Personal attention

This is clearly a traditional and friendly health food shop. There are articles covering some health topics such as gut health and immunity. Mostly positive online reviews, several mentioning helpful in-store advice.

The website encourages customers to contact them with any queries or product requests but there’s limited information about online ordering on the website – it would be useful to have something like FAQs for the online shop.

Verdict: 8/10

Check out

This is straightforward and quick with delivery options and costs shown clearly, but no obvious link to shop T&Cs. I pay via PayPal, easy peasy. Check out is focused on making things as straightforward as possible but there are no additional items offered. There’s a choice between click and collect (which is free) or delivery, which has a small charge.

Later, I receive one email to let me know my parcel has been dispatched but a bit more information via email would be good. Pleasingly swift delivery, securely packed using recyclable materials, with a hand-written thank you note, which is a nice personal touch, and contact details for further purchases including how to get in touch via social media.

Verdict: 8/10

Overall impression

Friendly and welcoming. The shop’s Facebook page is regularly updated, with a nice friendly tone to their posts. However, there are no feedback options. I am happy with the service, especially as their website explains that their online shop is still in the process of being set up, so I will definitely visit again, either online or in person.

Verdict: 9/10

Total marks: 43/50

Read the previous Secret Shopper report here...

The 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 New Natural Business secret shoppers throughout the year.