How Mystery Shopping Works

Mystery shoppers are hired by companies to work as independent contractors (as opposed to employees) to call on a business and take note of several aspects of their visit. The process is tremendously interesting and mystery or secret shopping jobs are often a lot of fun.

In this section of the website we dive into the nitty gritty of what mystery shopping is all about:

Now, back to Mystery Shopping 101! A mystery shopper may be asked to evaluate the following:

  • Was the shopper greeted by staff members promptly on arrival?
  • Is the location neat and clean?
  • Did the staff member take the time to understand what the customer wanted?
  • Are staff members knowledgeable about the products they sell?
  • Did the staff member make an attempt to up-sell the customer (interest the customer in additional products and/or services)?
  • Did the staff member thank the customer for his or her business and invite them to come again?

After the "shop" has been completed, the mystery shopper prepares a detailed Mystery Shopping report about the experience, which is submitted to the company requesting the "shop."

The mystery shopping industry has changed a lot over the last decade. Whereas in the past, shoppers would have to write their reports with pen and paper, now the process has become automated. After the shopping trip is finished, the mystery shopper can enter file his or her report electronically.

The advantage to the client company is that they can access information about how well their staff is interacting with customers quickly. Rather than wait for sales levels to go down (which is a clear indication of a problem in this area), the company can include mystery shopping trips as part of a kind of preventive maintenance program.

Computer programs are also used by the companies hiring mystery shoppers for scheduling and keeping track of which locations have received a visit from a mystery shopper. Software is also used to identify which mystery shoppers have visited each company.

For the mystery shoppers themselves, this type of work is a bit more involved than simply compensated shopping. While the mystery shopper is getting compensated for their work, the actual shopping trip is only part of the job. The person performing the mystery shop needs to be a keen observer and able to communicate well. Being articulate is a big plus as well, since he or she is going to have to convey not only what was said during the visit, but also convey their impressions about the way they were treated. That is a very subjective thing to describe, but oh-so-important to the business who needs this information.


Learn More: Mystery Shoppers as Independent Contractors