If like many people you want to make extra money, becoming a mystery shopper is well worth considering. Not only is mystery shopping simple and accessible, you don’t need any particular qualifications. You can often fit shopping around your existing schedule. And you can usually work as little or as much as you like. All that’s required is enthusiasm and an attention to detail. Let’s take a closer look at becoming a mystery shopper to see whether it is right for you.
What is mystery shopping?
Mystery shopping is actually a fairly straightforward job. As a mystery shopper, you will visit businesses and act just like a regular customer. You will often need to ask employees certain questions or buy items and then give feedback. This enables the stores to judge how effective their customer service is.
If you have ever worked in retail for a significant length of time, it is likely you have served a mystery shopper before. While mystery shopping is a popular way to measure customer service and employee performance in the retail sector, the practice is used in many different industries.
Libraries, cafes, restaurants, garages, information desks, museums and more can all be visited by mystery shoppers. So, if you do become a mystery shopper, you
will end up visiting quite a few different places as you go about your task.
How does it work?
One of the biggest perks of being a mystery shopper is how simple it is. You will usually have a checklist of stores and outlets to visit. Each location will have a different set of instructions. Typically, this will involve asking questions about products, buying certain items, and judging the efficiency of staff.
Once this is done, you are asked to provide feedback on your findings, often via an online questionnaire. The “in person” mystery shopper is the role most commonly seen. But you can also apply to be a telephone mystery shopper. The only difference is you ring the business you’re evaluating, instead of appearing in person.
How can you start out as a mystery shopper?
If you’d like to try being a mystery shopper, how do you start out? Firstly, you should apply to an agency that is dedicated to mystery shopping. Some popular organisations to register for are the ESA, Grass Roots, Market Checker, and GBW. This will give you a good starting point. But there are plenty of other agencies to look at as well.
Every agency is different in that some will focus on specific market sectors, while others may be more generalised. Once you’ve applied, you will often have to complete a test before being enlisted. These can be quite tricky, so don’t be disheartened if it takes a couple of attempts to succeed.
As a word of caution: you should ensure any agency is legitimate before making contact. Mystery shopping is a popular hook for scammers. So to be safe, make sure the agency has a legitimate phone number, physical address, and registered business name. It should never cost you money to join an agency. Therefore, if you are asked to pay something immediately, cease contact and inform the authorities. After all, being a mystery shopper is about making extra money in your spare time – not losing it!
What are the benefits?
Mystery shopping is a fun and flexible way to test out new products and services. It is a sociable job and naturally suits anyone who enjoys shopping. In many ways, you are getting paid for something you do regularly.
And it’s also very flexible. In most cases, the work can fit around your day to day activities without issue. Best of all, if there is a task you would rather avoid, there is usually no pressure. You just move onto the next assignment.
How much can you earn?
Now, this is a divisive area. Some newspaper headlines make it sound like mystery shoppers are paid next to nothing. But the real truth is, earnings can vary considerably.
For example, if the job is quite simple, such as going into a shop to make a few enquiries, it will have a low return. However, more complicated jobs can pay much more. You can’t really retire on the money you’ll make as a mystery shopper. But it is a relatively easy way to generate extra income.
Students are the ideal demographic for mystery shopping. Having said that, anybody who seeks flexibility can work as a mystery shopper. And with few requirements and no long-term commitment, it can be an effective way to boost your earnings.