All looking good... Until checkout!

Store location: West Midlands
Enquiry: Summery soft drinks

Since the beginning of the year, New Natural Business has picked up the baton for mystery shopping. Before that, the series gained huge popularity in our former ID of Better Retailing Magazine. The pandemic changed shopping patterns for many customers so since then we've been focusing on health food and natural product stores with an online shop...

First impressions

I hit the search button with a command to find some refreshing natural drinks to enjoy in the September sunshine. I find a health store site with attractive muted colours and a responsive design (always a plus). Then a minus - some elements of the website design are a bit slow to load.

Practical information about delivery and collection options for online orders, along with the physical shop's location, are easy to find. Information on new product ranges, special offers and some background on the shop and its owners are also clearly displayed. Everything feels friendly and informal.

Verdict 8/10

Website layout

Browsing the online shop I find a fairly broad range of products, mainly wholefoods and bodycare. Shop categories are easy to find, although some category names are a bit vague making it tricky to work out what a specific product might be categorised as.

I can't find a search option in the online shop. Some pages include options to filter products, for example by brand, which helps a little.

Product information is mainly quite brief, although some products have a little more detail.

Verdict 7/10

Personal attention

Website tone is friendly and enthusiastic but I don't encounter much in the way of personal interaction. Blog posts are focused on product ranges rather than more general health and nutrition topics. The shop's social media posts are more focused on the physical shop than on the online side of things.

Verdict 6/10

Check out

Initially pretty smooth, although I find the display of recently viewed products on the checkout page a bit distracting. Delivery options and costs are clear, ranging from picking up in store, standard delivery or express delivery.

But then - oops! There are issues with the card payment provider and I also have problems with the PayPal checkout offered as an alternative. In the end I give up on my order after several attempts with the payment process.

Worse, I don't receive any emails from the shop to follow up on my abandoned order.

Verdict 3/10

Overall impression

I initially warmed to this store's friendly tone and good range of products, but the experience is really let down by the difficulty in paying.

A few other elements of the online shop could do with some tweaks too, for example by adding a product search facility.

Online reviews suggest others have run into issues with the webshop, but reviews for the physical shop are mainly very positive. It might just be early days for their online shop and I may visit again in the future to see if they've ironed out the glitches.

Verdict 6/10

Total marks 30/50

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.