Mystery shopping is another aspect of marketing research. Basically, it is just another way of getting a customer’s opinion. There’s a whole bunch of different types of mystery shops available out there.
Mystery shopping started as far back as the 1940s or 1950s. People were hired to go into stores and try and steal things. They wanted to make sure the employees were on their toes. They were employed to pay cash and check if an employee closes a cash drawer, gives back right change and that type of things.
However, with the invention of security cameras, we no longer need such services and instead, mystery shopping has evolved into a customer service oriented program.
Companies use mystery shopping for a whole bunch of different reasons. Some companies use it for compliance issues; for people who are underage, eighteen-year olds and 21-year-olds, to go in and try to buy alcohol and tobacco products.
Mystery shoppers are also used for fair housing. For example; In the United States, there is a fair housing laws that states you are not allowed to discriminate based on race, religion, color, or creed. Mystery shoppers are needed to go in and try to be a little bit biased.
Sometimes mystery shopping is used to evaluate sales techniques. When you go into a store, let’s say a restaurant and you order rum and coke, does the server try to up sell it to you? This is to make sure the employees are doing what they’re supposed to be doing according to their training.
Mystery shoppers are also used for pre-employment evaluations. Yes, it’s true if you’re planing to start working in a certain company, they may send mystery shoppers to go and evaluate you before your new company in order to help them in deciding whether they want to hire you or not.
All in all, your role as a mystery shopper is to be an objective evaluator and an observer.
There is a couple of different ways to apply for a mystery shopping assignment. If you want to be proactive, you can go to the industry job boards and find jobs or go to the individual mystery shopping company websites and apply through their job boards.
Some mystery shopping companies have shopper areas where you can go and see all of the coming up assignments. Other businesses will post their job offers on the industry job boards, which means you’ll have to go through a longer process when applying for a job.
Sometimes, if there is no available job opportunity, you will have to sign up with a mystery shopping company and wait to be emailed.
There are over a thousand genuine mystery companies in operation. Among the most notable ones are CIMA Insight, Customer Perspectives, Consumer Service Analysis Inc., Retail Track Mystery Shopping & Consulting, Circle of Service, LLC, Measure Consumer Perspectives, Premier Service Inc., Forum Research, Inc. and Market Viewpoint.
Unfortunately, there are also many scammers in operation. You can easily pinpoint them out by their unique features of requesting for payments before doing assignments, or to wire funds to someone else. It is also prudent to sign for a company that is listed with mystery shoppers unions.
Payments for mystery workers varies depending on the type of work and type of contract. Professional Mystery Shoppers earn approximately $40,000-$ 70, 000 annually.
Beginners full-employed workers earn about $8/hr but after sometimes, it can be increased up to $25/hr. For those on specific assignments, the pay ranges in between $10-$75.