Secret Shopper Report: West Midlands

Standing out from the crowd

Launched in 2012, our Secret Shoppers are seeking out the best (or worst) of GB’s natural health and lifestyle independents. This time our spy has travelled to the West Midlands to ask about dairy alternatives, natural skincare and teething remedies.

Store location: West Midlands
Issue enquired about: alternatives to cows' milk, natural skincare and teething remedies

First impressions

The shopfront display shows a wide variety of produce. This was, in parts, a bit cluttered. The main display was for a superfood drink but as this was featured among other items the overall impression was a bit confusing. The first attempt to shop had to be postponed because I had my son in his pram and the layout of the shop was so cramped that it was impractical to take a buggy in. We returned a week later with him in a sling. However, we were treated by friendly staff when we entered.

Verdict: 5/10

Store layout

The store had a lot of different produce for sale but the layout was a bit cramped, making moving around a touch difficult. The shop did stock some high quality health foods - tempting healthy snacks and bars were one of the first displays upon entering the shop. There was a good mix of food, bodycare and supplements presented in logical sections as you moved around the store.

Verdict: 6/10

Personal attention

I asked a male assistant if they stocked almond milk as an alternative to cows' milk. Initially he didn't think they had any in stock and talked me through all the alternatives they had in store, however during this he located the almond milk and got it down for me from a high shelf. I asked if this could be used in place of cows' milk and he explained in detail how to best to use it. I then asked about the ranges of natural skin care suitable for very sensitive skin and I was directed to the Weleda range, specifically an almond oil moisturiser at the front of the shop. I then asked if they stocked any natural teething remedies for my son, I was informed that they usually stocked two types but were currently out of stock. The female assistant I spoke to told me that they would have some next week but missed the opportunity to take my details and secure an order. The shop assistant also didn't give me a specific day that the remedies would be in stock. The staff were on the whole helpful and knowledgeable about every product, I trusted their expertise. The almond oil cream was wonderful and did everything claimed by the store.

Verdict: 8/10

Check out

Check out was smooth and I was happy to part with my money. I was offered lots of information about a new superfood supplement product they are selling. The assistant was very passionate about the product and gave me a booklet to take away.

Verdict: 7/10

Overall impression

The store was not busy, but it had such restricted space this was a good thing for me! The staff were friendly and helpful and I was made to feel welcome. I would return to the shop as it had the overall impression of an Aladdin's cave and I would like to explore all the different produce.

Verdict: 7/10

Total marks: 33/50

Read about the winning store in the 2015 Secret Shopper Awards here...