Ron Welty is the president and founder of IntelliShop, a company located in Perrysburg, OH. In addition to mystery shopping services, IntelliShop provides customer satisfaction surveys, site audits, and telephone call programs (inbound and outbound). The company has provided services to a variety of clients, including retailers, banks, insurance companies, restaurants, fitness clubs, and government agencies.
Can you provide some information about the size of the mystery shopping industry?
In 2015, our trade association, the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (MSPA), made a conservative estimate of approximately $2.1 billion worldwide (valued in $USD). Though we haven’t conducted a formal study since then, we estimate that it has grown at approximately 25% annually.
What are the employment prospects like for mystery shoppers?
Excellent! There are more than 170 members of the MSPA in North America alone. Shoppers can locate them, and the type of work they do and geographical areas covered, by going to www.mysteryshop.org. Also, scams abound! A good general rule of thumb is that shoppers should never have to pay anyone in order to become a mystery shopper.
Also, we encourage everyone to research ways to avoid check-cashing and other types of scams using under the guise of mystery shopping company identities.
Do mystery shoppers specialize in one type of industry or are they considered to be generalists?
Some shoppers will accept only assignments in certain industries that they are interested in participating in, while the majority are generalists and accept assignments in many industries.
What kind of information is the mystery shopper given about a client company before they call or visit?
The client will always require specific information to be observed and evaluated during the shopper’s visit, so yes, there is information that their mystery shopping company will provide them so that they can submit a report that complies with the client’s needs and requirements.
Typically, is more than one shopper assigned to the same client?
Yes, even with clients with a small number of locations or evaluations, it is common for clients to require their mystery shopping provider to rotate shoppers either each visit or after a certain number of visits, both to protect their anonymity and also keep the evaluations “fresh.”