GoSpotCheck Launches to Usher in Smartphone-Powered Mystery Shoppers

Since large restaurant chains have franchises in many locations around the world, and consumer packaged goods (CPGs) companies distribute their products in multiple retail chains, keeping track of a rollout of a new marketing initiative can be difficult. Making sure marketing efforts are up to par across all retail locations is a problem Denver-based GoSpotCheck wants to tackle. The TechStars Boulder alum recently announced the public release of its software to help businesses get a better handle on how their in-store marketing plans are executed, in addition to introducing a new feature called Mission Control which lets retail managers set custom tailored ‘missions’ for their staff.

The company started off by running its own staff of mystery shoppers to crowdsource field data for its customers before recognizing that the software it developed was a better value proposition and far more scalable. “The reason why this market exists is for these companies with large distributed operations, a lot can go wrong as you can imagine. They hire these mystery shoppers because they don’t really have any way to ensure either their people or partners are performing the right activity,” said CEO Matt Talbot in an interview with BetaKit. “We built this great solution for ourselves to manage 8,000 mystery shoppers, and got them to collect data and photos that were geo-tagged…with that, we began to realize that the opportunity was more on the software side by enabling these companies to have their people go out and report back on what’s happening.”

GoSpotCheck’s mobile application paired with its web software allows companies to monitor in-store retail activity. Equipped with their smartphones, employees ranging from field representatives to merchandisers capture and share real-time intelligence via geo-tagged photos and notes as they visit the different retail locations. On the backend, managers have access to a centralized dashboard to view what those employees capture. The idea is that they could then improve their decision-making and operations, and they can now also create customizable ‘missions’ for their staff to run.

According to Talbot, prior to GoSpotCheck most of its clients would use either a private Flickr photo-sharing page and a spreadsheet or Google Apps to keep track of whatever data they would collect. There are also custom-built enterprise solutions, however Talbot said they’re not optimized for the mobile technologies field staff now have access to, not to mention the high cost of integrating with those systems.

Its two biggest use cases reflect its initial target market of multi-unit restaurants and CPGs, where it wants to help ensure that new marketing initiatives and product releases are properly executed. Be it a new burger that a large chain like McDonald’s is introducing, or an agreement a company has with a grocery chain to have premium shelf space, the end result would be holding partners and employees accountable while effectively managing costs. Right now it’s testing out its pricing model, offering a monthly subscription with a nominal volume-based approach for the number of field staff companies want to deploy with its apps.

It has already signed on two big brand names in its target segments, however, the company has yet to disclose their names. It will also be looking to prove to them and others that its solution trumps the existing means companies use to carry out their field tests and cites its management dashboard geo-tagged posts as reasons companies should make the switch. While most people have either encountered or heard of mystery shoppers who are looking for shoplifters or to ensure employee effectiveness, seeing them equipped with smartphones is something that will likely become more popular as employers look to crowdsource quality control.

Humayun Khan

Humayun Khan

Humayun Khan is a Senior Writer and Analyst at BetaKit. A marketing graduate with honors, Humayun's work experience spans the fields of consumer behaviour with noted contributions in an academic paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology and market research consulting having coordinated projects for a major financial services client at Decode Inc. More recently he was involved in business strategy as a Business Analyst for an equipment rental outlet and prior in the National Marketing Department at Ernst & Young LLP. He is passionate about emerging and disrupting technology and its ability to transform and create entirely new industries.

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