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I was chosen to be a mystery shopper for Dunelm so I visited the Milton Keynes store on Saturday 12th January. The car park was very full but I managed to get a space. There was a dumped trolley next to my car park space, in the walk way that leads out of the car park, and some receipts on the floor, around the car park. There were big sale signs outside the store and when entering there were quite a few throughout the store, which you could clearly see from the front, along with mark down signs and offers.
There were a few gaps on the shelves here and there and it was very busy. The first member of staff I approached was friendly, I asked her where the kettles were and she pointed me in the right direction. When I went to this section I was confused over some of the prices listed under items as a few of the same items were marked with a few different prices. I then decided to look for some pint glasses. I couldn't find a specific area for these, it seemed that there were just a few glasses placed randomly in different sections of the store. I continued to look for quite a while as I couldn't find a single pint glass and didn't come across a member of staff to ask whilst I was looking.
I finally found a staff member and asked if they had a specific area for them and if they had any pint glasses at all and was told no. That wasn't very helpful but she did then engage with my baby and make him smile. I was then looking at some discounted bins in the middle of the store and was confused about the pricing as the signs were conflicting. I asked a member of staff for the correct price and he wasn't sure so called his colleague over to scan it. She did so and confirmed the price. I asked if they had any more of a specific colour as the one I was looking at was broken. He acknowledged that and found another one in the centre of the display. I then realised that too was broken and told him. He apologised and continued tidying a shelf next to me. I would have thought he would have removed them or notified someone because if a customer buys either item and doesn't realise they are broken until they are home, they will have to then travel back to return it.
I chose another two items and queued up. There were a few people on the tills and the queue was moving quickly. There were two people in front of me but I was served within about a minute of queuing. The lady who served me didn't converse or offer any carrier bags but she did ask if I wanted my gift card back and thanked me as I left. The items I purchased seem fine so far, the pillows are comfortable and the kettle and water filter are in working order. In conclusion, the experience was fine and the staff were pleasant. I wasn't too impressed with the location of some items and how difficult they were to find, and that broken items were left on the shop floor without the customers being notified of this. Otherwise, I had no other problems and would return to purchase items again. I would rate my visit 3 out of 5.
It was a Sunday, on the hottest weekend of the year so far and so the town centre in Chelmsford was full of shoppers looking for a bargain. On approach to the Primark store it looked tidy and clean from the outset. I noticed that they must have recently changed their window displays in preparation for the summer. It had some great outfits clearly marked with prices for potential customers as they passed the store front.
The front of the shop is stocked full to appeal to, what I assume would be, their prime market. Women! As you walked in to your left you find some of the smarter, casual summer wear; to the right the more laid back casual wear such as vest tops. I immediately noticed a couple of clothing stands as I walked in that were labeled with ‘REDUCTION’ signs, making it easy to see where the special offers were. Those particular racks were not very tidy due to a lot of customers obviously shuffling through the items to find a size, there were however a lot of staff on hand in this area, tidying up the stalls as quickly as possible.
As you pass the front section of the store. There are escalators to your left taking you to the second floor or you can, as I did, continue to the middle and back area of the ground level. The next area I came to was their ‘denim’ section. Packed with jeans, dungarees and some denim jackets there was a lot to choose from. I noticed on their large centre display rack, which housed a lot of their jeans, folded neatly on shelves, they had a mannequin wearing some ripped style jeans. I proceeded to look for these with no luck! I decided to ask a member of staff for some help but in that particular area there did not seem to be many about. After a few minutes I managed to find someone who was able to help me very quickly an efficiently. He guided me to the table that those jeans were located however it was not really close to the mannequin they had been modelled on. I think they could have been better placed. Nonetheless I found them and all the sizes were nicely set out so that I was able to find what I needed.
I headed to the changing rooms to try on the size I had picked up to ensure that they were correct before purchasing. The attendants at the changing rooms were friendly and efficient in giving my my tag for the changing rooms so that I could try them on. The changing room area is large and though busy was tidy and clean.
Towards the back end of the store there was luggage, beachwear, shoes, bags, make up and other general accessories. After looking at a few other areas of the store for items such as vest tops, and make up accessories I headed back to the escalators and went upstairs to the lingerie, children, mens and home section.
Upstairs was a lot quieter than the lower level and as such there seemed to be less staff tidying. This was apparent by the children's shoes, a section which was completely disheveled from parents trying to kit their children out with the latest footwear fashion! There did not even seem to be a staff member on hand to tidy this, with more shoes on the floor than hanging on the unit. That was, however, the only part of the store I noticed to be exceptionally messy, despite the huge amount of foot traffic that was in there. The mens section was clean and again special offer/reduction signs were clear and visible, leading my eyes straight to them as I headed towards that section. The only thing I would criticise is that not all items has been marked down on the tag. When something is reduced from £7 to £3 that is a great saving but with many items priced at that mark and customers picking up items and putting them down anywhere, it was not always completely clear if a piece of clothing had just been put down there or it was in fact part of that discount; the same goes for the downstairs sale areas.
Once I had walked around the store and chosen the items I wished to purchase I headed to the tills. They had a lot of staff on and so there were, I believe, 9 tills open for customers. This meant that the queue time was very short as the staff were incredibly efficient in their serving. When I got to the staff the attendant was friendly and processed my items quickly, placing them nicely in the bag. There was no conversation as such but I think she was just trying to get it all processed as quick as possible which was fine with me!
As I left the till I realised I had bought something in the wrong size, I immediately headed up to the customer service desk with the replacement item in the correct size to change it around. There was one person in front of me but another member of staff quickly came to open another till to ensure we got seem quickly. The swap was no problem and they had it sorted for me in a matter of minutes.
With regards to the quality of the items that I bought, I feel that over the past couple of years Primark have greatly improved the quality of their items and each thing that I bought is fit for purpose. The summer clothing is lightweight yet it does not feel thin like I could put a hole through it if I catch it at the wrong point! I purchased a couple of pairs of jeans and again for the price of the items I am very happy with the quality, I have purchased more expensive jeans in the past that have not had as much longevity and these feel nice on and to the touch.
Overall I had a very good experience, I would rate this visit a 4 out of 5. When I was looking for the jeans it would have been nice to have not had to hunt around for a member of staff to ask for help, but to have someone within eye sight, also there were areas of the store that could have been tidier. However, given how busy the store was the staff were working very well. There was no one standing around, everyone was busy and I was really impressed with how tidy certain areas of the store were considering that. I certainly won’t hesitate to visit this store again, nor would I hesitate to recommend others to shop at this store. You can get some great deals on clothes if you don't care about having named brand items and it was a pleasant experience from walking in the store to walking out.
On Thursday 16th February I received a £100 gift card to spend at Monsoon Accessorize as a Mystery Shopper. The store I chose to go to was Monsoon Accessorize in the Castlepoint Shopping Centre in Bournemouth, and I went there on Saturday 18th February, around lunchtime. Normally on a Saturday I would have thought the store would have been busy but it was actually very quiet. I went with my partner, and we did spend the whole £100 in store. Upon coming up to the store, there was no visible litter on the long walkway in front which also has several other shop fronts on it, and the pathway itself was also in very good condition. Inside the store, again there was no visible litter, however in the fitting rooms there was visible dust on the floor around the walls of the stall I was in. The store layout was quite standard, with most of the floor being women's clothes, and a small section at the back of the store for children's clothes. Also at the back of the store were products in the sale, the fittings rooms, and the lift to the first floor hidden behind the staircase at the start of the children's clothes. I feel this layout slightly lets down the amount of customers that come into the store as the whereabouts of the sale products and children's products were not easily visible from outside. From what I could see there was only one sign for the Sale in the store window, which was under eye height on a red board, saying Final reductions. Inside the store there was no other communication for it, and it was only when we went to the very back of the store we saw the sale products. However I did like that the clothes were organised into what size the garments were and further organised in catergories, i.e. trousers, jeans, skirts/ dresses etc,. There were a few that were in the wrong place but overall gave a good standard of organisation.
For me another 2 points that let the store down was the lack of clothes for young boys, as the children's section was dominated by clothes for girls, and there were no men's clothes that I could see, when I looked on the website I saw Monsoon also sold men's clothes, but in the store I couldn't see any on the racks. At the front of the store there was also a flight of stairs that I assume led to the Accessorize floor, while I did not see a sign that this is what was upstairs, my partner who came with me said he did. Also down one side of the store were a line of full length mirrors, however it was hard to use them as there were products infront of them, mainly the racks of products in the sale. When I was ready to try on a few things I had picked up, I waited around at the fittings rooms entrance for a few minutes to see if anyone was actually manning them, as normally when I've gone into changing rooms in the past I was given something to say how many items of clothing I was taking in to try, but after maybe 5 minutes I just went in as there was no member of staff there, it was only in the middle of trying on my clothes that I heard a staff member out there.
The fitting room stalls were fairly small, but big enough to move around in, and to have a cushioned stool in there as well with another full length mirror and a pendant light that hung above the stool, it was above my head height but I could easily touch it and only seemed to be in there for mood lighting as the main light was a recessed spotlight on the high ceiling in the stall. I also notice there was a wall hook set which looked like it normally had 4 hooks on but only had 2 of them on there to use. The “door” was just a heavy red curtain which I managed to hit a few times so whoever was looking in to fitting rooms could see me, this could possibly be addressed with something like Velcro on the curtain and door frame, or magnets in the curtain and on the door frame, just something to secure the sides of the curtain for better privacy while changing. As mentioned above, there was a Sale going on in the store for the Monsoon clothes, however I could only see the one board in the shop window with it advertised until we got to the back of the store where the sale products were. On each end of the Clothes racks there was a tag standing up that said up to 70% off, so it was easy to see which products were in the sale, so this was communication. On each tag we looked at, the sale prices were written in a red pen, which did get slightly harder to see when some of the clothes tags were a darker colour, but could still be seen nonetheless. On the children's clothes that were in the sale, there were bigger tags hanging from the hangers in front of the clothing, this is another example of good communication as it would be hard to confuse with products that were not in the sale. The Children's clothes in the sale were kept in the Children's section of the store. I feel the store might have been able to attract more customers into the store if the Sale products were move visible from outside. When walking through and looking at the clothes I could not see any visible gaps, none that drew my attention to them, so this was another example of good organisation for the store. Since the staff do not wear any kind of uniform, it was hard to see anyone from a distance, it was only when we saw someone close to us wearing a Monsoon Lanyard we knew they worked there.
The lady we spoke to was very polite, listened to our query with a smile which was finding a certain size in the boys clothes. When we had finished talking she told us exactly what she was going to do to answer our query, in this case it was going to the tills and checking if the products we were holding were available in the size we wanted. After some minutes she came back to us and said she was going to go to the stock room and have a look for the items in there, again telling us exactly what she was going to do for us, which I thought was good customer service as we knew what she doing each time to help with our request. Some minutes passed again and the lady came back with 2 out of the 3 items in the right size, the 3rd item she explained was not in stock but offered to order the item into the store for us to pick up at a later date. Once again this was very good customer service, offering this option to us if we wanted to use it. Unfortunately I didn't see what the ladies name was but she was very polite, friendly and professional throughout, and of course very helpful with getting us the items we wanted. After we had chosen the products we wanted to buy we headed to the tills. When we got there, there was no queue at all, so we were able to go straight to paying without waiting around. The till operator was a young women and again was very polite and seemed friendly. She packed the products for us herself and even accommodated our request to have the clothes for me and the clothes for our nephew put into 2 separate bags.
The only conversing during this time from the young lady was to ask if I had a monsoon points reward card and asked if I wanted to sign up for one. Her customer service was good but I don't feel like she tried to go above what she needed to do, for me if she had added conversation it would have made me think she was more interested in her job and her customers, she just did her job as much as was required. Also I know is most clothes stores the till operator asks if you would like to keep the hangers, so I was disappointed when we didn't get asked as normally I prefer to keep hangers for my clothes, but I am not sure of the policy for this. While I was not overly impressed with anything in the store itself, I was impressed by the customer service we received from the lady who helped us find the items we were looking for, I really do feel she went the extra mile to help us and tell us at each stage what she was doing to get us what we wanted. Overall, I would rate the store 4 out of 5. The layout and organisation of the store, for the most part, was very good, it was all very tidy, very few things were in the wrong place, the store had a good atmosphere, good lighting, and good temperature throughout. I was pleasantly surprised their sizing went up to a size 22 which there seemed to be a lot of clothes for this size. I also liked the fact that we were left to do our browsing in peace, while in retail you tend to get told to try sell to customers I liked that they didn't, but I know some people do prefer staff coming and offering help when you are browsing. While there was a lot of good things about their store, there were bad ones too, like the lack of boys clothes, there were no men's clothes, and the red curtain for the fitting rooms stalls which didn't give a full amount of privacy, as they opened if you managed to hit them accidentally. Due to having social anxiety I was not able to go to the 1st floor of the store but greatly enjoyed the experience of being a mystery shopper and hope to have the chance to do it again, and do it better =)