How to Become a Mystery Shopper

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There is some savvy involved in learning how to become a secret shopper. Secret shoppers, also called mystery shoppers, get paid to visit establishments and purchase products, all with the intention of seeing what kind of customer service they receive. These trained consumers also gauge how well the environment is being managed, based on certain criteria given them by the company running the shopping program. From observing and compiling information about their experiences, these shoppers help clients improve the way businesses are run.[1]


[Flickr: Anthony Easton]
Education High school diploma
Starting pay Varies by assignment/company[2]
Median pay Varies by assignment/company[2]
10 yr growth Average
Related professions Personal shopper
Author Kasey Clark

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Mystery Shopper Job Overview

During a particular assignment, a mystery shopper will need to make note of certain things they see and experience during the visit to the store or restaurant. Companies hire shop audit companies to have their employees take a critical look at personnel, operations strategies, service provisions, and overall quality of products. After a visit is complete, the mystery shopper fills out a detailed questionnaire or report on how they were helped and what they noticed while shopping. The key to performing as an informative secret shopper depends on being highly observant while remaining inconspicuous.[3]

Mystery Shopper Education

Most shop audit companies require their secret shoppers to have at least a high school diploma or the equivalent. They also ask that potential shoppers be at least 18 years of age. Depending on the store assignment, someone younger than 18 may not fit the demographic of the typical consumer interested in luxury goods or expensive electronics.[4]

Mystery Shopper Training

Mystery shoppers receive shop audit training before being sent out on assignment. Among other important things, they learn how to approach sales associates, ask pertinent questions, and make helpful observations about the shopping environment. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association developed a two-level secret shopper certification program in 2002. The primary goals of the program are to offer educational opportunities to shoppers as independent contractors and improve the feedback companies receive from shop audit outfits. Shoppers can reach Silver Certification or Gold Certification status. Mystery shoppers are not obligated to obtain certification prior to seeking employment.[5]

Mystery Shopper Applications

Mystery shoppers looking for assignments in their area can benefit from using mobile applications like Gigwalk. “Gigs” listed on the website include assignments to put shelf talkers/signage in place, call businesses to audit phone service, photograph product displays, and more. Gigwalkers are paid anywhere from $5-$25 per assignment. Posted gigs take an estimated 15 to 30 minutes to complete.[6][7]

Mystery Shopper Assignments

One mystery shopper grades experiences at several national chain stores

Also See: How to Become an Affiliate Marketer, How to Become a Film Critic, How to Become a Reporter, How to Become a Cashier, How to Become a Front Desk Clerk


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