Saturday, 3 July 2010

5 Useful things you should know about mystery shopping


Mystery shopping has been around for quite a while. Market Research companies hire people to shop in particular stores and restaurants to see how the service is The information that the Market Research companies receive from the shoppers is then given to their clients who use it as to improve their company’s services and products. This information is vital to their marketing success.


Besides retail stores and restaurants there are many other types of companies like financial institutions, health care facilities, hotels to name just a few that use mystery shoppers.


Here are five things that you should know about mystery shopping.
  1. You should not pay a fee to become a mystery shopper. This is well known but unfortunately some companies still try to get away with it. 
  2. There is mystery shopping online as well as in brick and mortar stores. Online companies need the same information that more traditional stores. So you can mystery shop from home. 
  3. Some companies pay in merchandise as well as cash.  
  4. if you are looking to find out about legitimate research companies and just about anything dealing with mystery shopping then go to Mysteryshop.org  
  5. You probably won’t be able to make a full time job out of it but it certainly would be an interesting way to make money and get free services or products.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Do Not expect loyalty to yourself

A prime example of this is a company called Gapbuster, they were constantly calling me asking for help, changing dates and such like, then slowly they would take assignments and companies away from me stating that it was in their clients best interest to have a good solid mix of shopper and as a result  could no longer carry out certain assignments, then one day with out warning they removed me altogether from their database and I am no longer able to shop for them.

Another example of this is this: 
It seems that as I am going on holiday during the recent price checking audits I have been excluded from taking part in the wave of assignments, despite having carried them out and being openly honest about my leave, I have not been allocated any for today. Despite having already been given the whole list of dates that the wave of assignments go on for.

My advice is do not give 100% to the company in terms of loyalty, it will only end in tears for you never the mystery shopping company, they are only there for one thing, to fulfil their obligations to their clients, you are not a person you are merely their way to their target of completion of any assignment and guarantee they have made to their client. There are no exceptions to this as far as I can tell, even the best companies fail to listen to your statements nor care that you are on holiday, ill etc. Be prepared for constant calls, Emails verging on the realms of stalking. All they care about is their commitment to their client, the shoppers do not matter to them, they are two a penny.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Mystery Shopper Help Blog

I have had many of my friends and followers on both twitter and facebook asking me what the job of a mystery shopper and store auditor involves, so here is some help blog entries to some of the questions I have been asked.

Before you get accepted to become a shopper for any company, there will usually be a brief and simple questionnaire to be answered by yourself. This is usually only for them to ascertain your level of understanding, English and usefulness of you to them as a mystery shopper.

Have you ever left a pub, club, post office or other retail establishment  and was delighted at the customer service or left wondering how they treated you like that? Well becoming a mystery shopper gives companies an insight into their business practice from the eyes of a normal customers point of view.

Most companies that I work for offer the assignments on their websites. I log into the site and check the list of jobs with in my set perimeters each company will need a series of questions answered by you in order to ascertain, firstly the level of understanding from you and also your travel restrictions and time restrictions, after all there is no point in giving you assignments that you will not be able to complete. You will also need to be quick as it is usually fastest finger grabs the jobs.

The fees will vary depending on a number of factors, firstly the scenario, the company and the work involved in completing the assignment.

 Do not expect to become a millionaire from becoming a mystery shopper, the fees paid are never huge. Most will have NO travel allowance given.
The average fee will be from £5- around £25 including any expenses that you may incur.

So for this typical scenario of say £10 the fee would be broken up like this

Travel £0   Fee £5 this is the fee they pay you for carrying out the assignment and reimbursement of £5 the reimbursement fee would be the total  they will pay you for expenses, so, if you pay out more than the £5 it would be at your own expense.
Typically  the normal spend on the above scenario would be around £3 so the total you can claim back is £10.00 and no more. Even if you only spent £3 as a rule they would still pay the £10.00, however on occasions their client may stipulate  they will only pay the amount YOU spent so sometimes the job fee paid may actually only be £3.00 the amount you paid for the drinks, therefore you would only get paid a total of £8.00 broken down like this £5 fee and £3 your reimbursement.

Nearly all the companies I work for pay monthly into your bank account, some use Paypal too, not many now will pay by cheque or cash. Okay, so once you have completed the job, you will need to submit the report along with receipt and or photo of the shop location, so ALL shoppers need a digital camera and or a scanner as you will need to take a photo of the receipt and send it via a link on the shopper report page or by email depending on the company you do the assignment for. You will need to pay for the expenses out of your own pocket and the company will pay you into your bank account or Paypal once monthly, some will pay twice monthly, again depends on the company.

Most of the companies also score their shoppers how they do this varies from company to company, some let you see the score while others do not. They score you on things like, completing the job on time, with no proof reading errors and such, the higher the score you have, the more jobs become available to you, obviously if you keep letting them down, they do not want to waste their time offering you work.

Varying companies will specialise in different sectors. I will place a links section to this blog with a brief explanation about each company and what they tend to cater for.

Of course not every job has a spending allowance as there sometimes is nothing to buy. So in these cases there will not be a reimbursement fee, simply a shop fee. Every company will tell you what you need to buy, the scenario you need to follow, the deadlines and the fees involved, failing to fulfil any of the brief will normally end up in non payment to you.

Some jobs or assignments as they like to call them will involve a quick phone call, sometimes this will need to be recorded, some companies will give you instructions on how to use their recording equipment others will ask if you have your own.

Some jobs will ask that you remain a  mystery shopper, others will ask that you announce yourself AFTER you have completed the scenario in the given assignment briefing notes.

Being a store auditor is different to the role of a mystery shopper as these visits nearly always involve interaction with a member of staff maybe a manager or an inside contact at a business establishment.  Audits are rarely covert although they can be from time to time, for say checking prices with in a store. A company may want to check a section of the store to make sure both staff and managers are charging the customer correctly, to create uniform prices from store to store and such like.

Again the role of an auditor is vital to companies. Also again the scenario and briefing notes as well as deadlines are important, if you do not have time to complete it do not take it, you will be marked accordingly and may be restricted or removed from the companies database of shoppers for persistent failures. It is rare to be removed as a rule, but not unheard of.

You are self employed, you do not work for them, you act as an agent. You chose the jobs you want, the hours you want. Sometimes a company will call you and ask if you can help out last minute. There is no obligation to undertake any assignment.

Once you have completed an assignment or job, the questionnaire they ask you to fill in looks complicated, it is far from it, mostly they are yes or no click boxes, rarely will they ask you to give any further information. But it will be clear when filling in the form when and where they require additional information. Most reports take on average 5- 10 minutes to fill in once you are experienced at it. Most jobs will state a time that must be adhered too while in the location for example typically it is around 45 minutes while in say a pub, this will give you time to eat and or drink as well as checking the toilets, exterior, interior and timings to be served at given points in a scenario and such, then add on travel time and report filling time, an average job could take around 2 hours. As I stated not going to make a millionaire of you, but at least you will get a free lunch or groceries and such for your 2 hours work. As you are spending a little at a time too you will not notice the out going cash, but will notice a lump sum into your bank account each month.