The Mystery Shopping Process & Assignments

Mystery shopping didn’t start off as a multi-billion dollar business. The idea of sending people in to a business to report about their experiences started in 1940s.
At that point, banks used mystery shoppers to get information about whether their employees were behaving in an honest and ethical manner.

From that modest beginning, mystery shopping has grown and evolved. Now, mystery shoppers working for some companies are able to check on available assignments, receive their instructions, and file their reports electronically. It’s the ultimate work-from-home opportunity!

You can start by registering with a mystery shopping company.

The information you provide in your profile is used to determine whether you would be a good fit for a particular assignment, so do fill it in carefully. Some assignments require that you be in a certain age group or have specific interests, such as an assignment to visit a dog grooming business. (To perform that kind of assignment effectively, you will need to have a dog.)

When an assignment comes up that fits your profile, the company will let you know. You may be able to access a list of assignments by logging in to the mystery shopping company website, or receive this information by phone or e-mail. You will also find out where you need to go to do your “shop” and when you need to do so. Some mystery shopping trips need to be conducted during certain times of day, and most of them must be done by a set date.

The instructions will also specify what you are expected to do during your shopping trip. Some are very simple and only ask that you order and pay for a meal or make a small purchase, while others are more involved. A more experienced mystery shopper may be asked to go on assignments where they are asked to find out answers to specific questions about the company’s products or services or to actually make a complaint.

In Focus: Why Businesses Use Mystery Shoppers

After the shopping excursion has taken place, the next step for the mystery shopper is to prepare a report about their experience. This may involve filling in a survey to answer a set of questions about the visit. Other shopping trips involve a more detailed report, where the shopper answers specific questions and then provides written comments as well.

Once the report has been completed, it is submitted to the mystery shopping company. This may may be done electronically or in hard copy form. The information in the report is analyzed by the mystery shopping company and forwarded on to its client.


Learn More: Mystery Shopping Methodology