Some of Australia’s leading retail brands use them. A quick Google search displays numerous job opportunities with mystery shopping companies. But, what is a Mystery Shopper and is becoming one worth it?
What is a Mystery Shopper?
A mystery shopper is someone hired to go through the customer service experience at retail stores and report back about their encounter. You can think of them as undercover customers. A mystery shopper can be hired to go anywhere that involves some form of customer interaction – e.g. clothes stores, homeware stores, restaurants, mechanics etc.
Usually, a mystery shopper is required to make a purchase to ensure the full customer service experience. After shopping, most hiring agencies and retailers require the mystery shopper to complete a survey in which they provide a detailed report about their experience.
The common questions asked on these surveys include:
Mystery Shoppers exist to anonymously partake in market research by assessing the quality of service at businesses. By acting as an ordinary customer, they will experience the standard shopping experience, dining experience etc. that that business provides. Once this information has been analysed by the respective research company, an overall customer experience and customer satisfaction index can be deducted.
Mystery Shopper jobs can be anything under the banner of ‘retail’ or ‘customer service.’ More often than not, they will be straight forward. Go to the business, interact with staff, purchase your intended item, report back to your agency. However, sometimes the assignments become a little more particular and require some acting on your behalf!
Mystery shoppers exist, so retailers (particularly large ones) have a better idea of how their staff are performing while executives aren’t present, watching their every move. However, Mystery Shoppers can also be hired to see how staff deal with ‘difficult’ customers and situations.
Sometimes, as a Mystery Shopper, you’ll be asked to be particularly and difficult towards staff to observe how they handle the situation (of course, being aggressive either physically or aurally won’t be tolerated!). So, if you’re uncomfortable asserting yourself as a customer and putting on your acting shoes, this may not be the best job for you!
A Possible Career?
It’s uncommon for retailers to hire their own mystery shoppers. Instead, retailers request mystery shoppers from third-party agencies. These agencies will then offer these mystery shopping assignments to all their employees, or they will hand-pick employees best suited for the task. Payment for Mystery Shopping can vary from agency to agency.
Usually, assignments within Australia can pay anything between $15-$100; in some cases, it can be as high as $200. Of course, you will be reimbursed for your purchases during assignments.
Becoming a mystery shopper could be an excellent opportunity for you if:
However, it’s uncommon for someone to be able to make a living by being a Mystery Shopper. The hours can be sporadic and travelling is often involved. It’s also rare that travel costs will be reimbursed! Furthermore, the reports take time and require significant detail, so to do multiple reports in one day could be time-consuming and stressful.
Some people who stick with Mystery Shopping, however, find themselves transitioning into other more professional roles such as:
These roles are still within the retail industry; however, instead of just reporting back to a third-party agency about your single-experience, you could be someone who shapes the retail experience for others!
How to Become a Mystery Shopper
If you’re interested in becoming a Mystery Shopper, then you’re in luck! There are usually no pre-requisites; however, most agencies have an age requirement of 18 years old and above.
Most agencies require an online application to be submitted (found on their website). Sometimes this application will be followed up by a phone call or maybe even an in-person meeting to ensure the role is mutually beneficial. If successful, you’ll most likely have an online profile created for you. This profile will be yours as a ‘certified shopper’, and it’s here you can accept shopping jobs that suit you.
Be wary of mystery shopping scams and be sure to apply for only reputable companies. Some personal information is required to set up your mystery shopper profile, and you want to ensure your information is protected.
It’s important to note that any income you earn by being a Master Shopper is taxable! Most Mystery Shoppers will obtain an ABN and might even open a separate ‘Business Bank Account’ with their bank to keep check of their earnings. Keeping track of your finances will be very helpful come to the end of the financial year when you need to declare your income!
If you’re looking for a fun side hustle to earn some extra cash on the side then becoming a Mystery Shopper could be a great move for you! Although a sustainable income is uncommon, it could open some doors into the broader world of retail!