If you love shopping, then this just might be the best paid gig you’ll ever find. It’s called “mystery shopping,” and it literally involves getting paid to do what you love best – shop!
I’ve been a “mystery shopper” for years now, and although I’ve hit a few snags along the way, I’ve definitely earned some money by participating in this money-making opportunity. In fact, I’ve got a few hundred mystery shopping sprees under my belt so far, and counting!
You name it, I’ve shopped it. Supermarkets, furniture stores, clothing stores, and even restaurants. Most months, I’ve been able to earn an average of $400 mystery shopping on the side, though I’ve had some months with much bigger payouts. You can expect to make anywhere between $4 to $25+ for each task, on average, which is pretty decent considering the fact that each task only takes a few minutes.
So, what exactly is mystery shopping, and how can you use it to make some extra cash?
What is Mystery Shopping?
The concept of mystery shopping can be traced back decades ago when specific types of research were developed in the 1940s to identify and evaluate the behavioral performance of consumers. However, mystery shopping really started to take off in the early 1990s in the retail industry, especially as the internet started to grow exponentially.
From that point, mystery shopping has expanded way past its original retail roots and is now involved in a myriad of industries to give companies some invaluable insights into how consumers behave, act, think, and spend. And guess what? They pay a lot of money for this valuable information that you can provide them with.
If you’re just stumbling across the concept of mystery shopping, it’s basically a type of “job” whereby you act like a typical customer when shopping with a particular business. After your experience is over, you report back to the company that pays you on a variety of things, including how staff interacted with you, the cleanliness and attractiveness of an establishment, or the type of products that are offered.
Basically, you are being paid to assess specific pre-defined criteria that the company wants to measure. Companies then pay you a fee in exchange for your valuable feedback.
Many times they will ask that you actually make a purchase, but they’ll reimburse you for whatever money you spent on the product or service, up to a specific limit.
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The Mystery Shopper’s Job Description
So, what exactly would you be doing as a mystery shopper? Simply put, you will be asked to visit an establishment, complete listed tasks, and give feedback on what you experienced there. Sometimes you might not be asked to physically visit a store at all, but instead, be asked to call a business and ask a number of questions. You’ll likely have to complete a survey when you’re done.
Essentially, the job of a mystery shopper is to help businesses understand what’s working and what isn’t. Any areas that are lagging will then be focused on in order to improve them.
For example, you could be asked to visit a women’s clothing store to see what their customer service is like. You’d go in and see how long it takes for someone to acknowledge your presence and offer you some help. If you find that staff are snobby and don’t say hello, that could be something they can work on. Or, if the staff do not seem very knowledgeable about the products they sell, you could provide some feedback on that too.
From your feedback, the owners or executives of a company will know exactly where their trouble spots lie and make the necessary adjustments.
Types of Mystery Shopping Jobs
There are different types of mystery shopping jobs you can take on, including the following:
In-person mystery shopper jobs – This is by far the most common and is the traditional type of mystery shopping. It’s pretty self-explanatory, and essentially involves physically visiting a shop to do your shopping.
Telephone mystery shopper jobs – This type of service evaluation is common for call centers, hotels, information technology companies, and any other company that deals with their customers by phone. Your job would be to call the company in order to assess the level of customer service offered.
Online mystery shopper jobs – In this realm the work is online, and your job is to assess things such as how easy a website is to navigate, how detailed the website is with photos and product descriptions, how quickly online store employees process the applications, and so forth. The tourism, communication, e-commerce, and real estate industries would be most common in this case.
OK, so now that you know what mystery shopping is and your role in it, it’s time to start looking for mystery shopper jobs.
Legit Mystery Shopper Jobs to Consider
There are plenty of mystery shopper jobs out there, but they’re not all created equal. Some are definitely better than others. Here are a few that provide plenty of opportunities that you may want to look into.
BestMark offers many mystery shopper jobs to provide valuable customer information to some of the biggest companies in the world, including Fortune and Global 500 companies. Their list of clients includes retail stores, restaurants, banks, casinos, hotels, resorts, and many more.
You’ll get full training when you take on a mystery shopper job with Sinclair Customer Metrics. You can even be a part of “video mystery shopping,” which entails carrying a hidden video camera in order to capture interactions with store staff up close.
Most of the gigs with Confero are in-store, though some gigs involve telephone mystery shopping as well. The job board is updated every day, so there’s always a fresh stream of jobs to choose from.
This award-winning company is one of most popular mystery shopping companies out there. There’s no shortage of industries that you will find with this particular service. You need to be at least 18 years old with a high school diploma in order to get a mystery shopper job, and will be paid once a month.
You can use Pinnacle’s job board to find businesses near you to shop at. Once you accept a mystery shopper job, your survey will need to be completed within 12 hours, which will be graded based on accuracy, dependability, and details. Depending on the type of shop, you can get paid between $4 to $75.
You can use IntelliShop’s job board for available shops, or you can have specific shops assigned directly to you. You’ll have 12 hours to complete your shop once assigned and accepted, though you may be granted extensions if required.
You’ll need to take a test before you’re eligible to take this mystery shopper job. You’ll be tested on things like grammar, spelling, and basic common sense, which should only take a few minutes to complete. Your critique skills will also be assessed from a small blurb that you will be expected to write and submit about a recent experience at a store, restaurant, or other establishment.
This is more of an online mystery shopper company, which means you’d be doing mostly “virtual” shopping as part of your paid service. You will be paid anywhere between $12 to $25 for doing things such as taking surveys, taking part in a business analysis, and testing out websites.
10. ARC Consulting
If you’re interested in doing telephone mystery shopping, SRC Consulting is a great place to start. Your job is to act as a customer and call certain businesses, after which you’ll provide feedback on the experience you had over the phone. If you do well at this level, you’ll be able to move up a notch and earn more money by performing audits over the phone.
11. Call Center QA
Another legitimate telephone mystery shopping company is Call Center QA, which is among the more popular companies simply because it’s very open and honest about how it works and how shoppers will be compensated. Each shop pays out $5, which includes a short follow-up survey.
Is mystery shopping for you? If you love to shop and are willing to be consistent with the work, mystery shopping may be a perfect fit for you. You can earn decent side cash just by posing as an actual customer without actually spending any of your own money. The key is to connect with reputable and trustworthy mystery shopping companies in order to make this work.
There are plenty of mystery shopping scams circulating, so you need to be wary of which companies you spend your valuable time on. Ideally, the companies you work with have been around for a long time. Any company that fizzles out just as fast as it sprung up on the radar is very telling. Let’s face it: mystery shopping is certainly no way to become a millionaire, even though it’s a great way to make extra cash fast. So if you ever come across a company telling you that you can “Quit your day job,” “Make big money now,” or “Make $50 an hour,” you’re probably dealing with a scam.
If mystery shopping sounds fun for you, I highly recommend giving it a shot. Just make sure you work with the right companies and you can’t go wrong.