She walks in the hall, in her pocket with a carefully concealed script. Or, perhaps she's typed notes in her smartphone, occasionally looking at them as if she's checking texts or emails. She tests out her watch to see how long it takes shop workers in the aisles to welcome her. She keeps track of how long it takes a person to solve an issue with the order. She looks for outdated signs or clothing that have no visible price on it. She looks at her head in bathrooms and aisles in store to see if the stock is perfectly set.
Occasionally you will also find her in pubs, nightclubs, mortgage firms and ride-sharing cars, even studying the policies of their work policy. She is a mystery to the staff and to almost all the executives. The organization that hired her knows she's human, probably from a background check or a copy of her passport, but she couldn't tell you her physical profile even from the retail office. They know she was there after leaving if they bother checking the video cameras to check her arrival and departure times.
She is a mystery shopper, and corporate headquarters (or store owners) often hire her to see if they are up to par with their store locations. Yet is mystery shopping becoming a lost art in the age of technology, and store survey receipts?
What are mystery shoppers doing exactly?
Their job description is in their name: A mystery shopper is someone who shops quietly and efficiently to be very open about her performance. They can buy a bag full of things, or a window shopper, so they can know how to fuse with any other shopper in the store.
A mystery shopper 's earnings depend on how much work she's willing to do, close to a freelancer. Many are paid in free clothing or products — similar to how reviews from Amazon Vine operate for Amazon.com. (Amazon Vine reviewers are positive, impartial buyers with an invite-only system. Such online shoppers select goods from a private list and receive them free of charge. With exchange, they are allowed to write free product reviews, which may make other Amazon consumers choose to purchase the same products because of the experiences of those top buyers.)
Mystery shoppers, on the other hand, do not get anything delivered. They go to locations physically, or make human-to - human calls. Like the above-mentioned window shopper or online reviewer, if the work is reliable the third community will make from a few hundred dollars to five digits anywhere.
Brands like Secret Shopper, who have been around for over 25 years, measure the total price for a single shop from $12 to $25 everywhere. Retailers may pay mystery shoppers to complete a range of tasks, including recorded phone calls to their own companies, or recorded competitive calls. While retail stores may employ managers to respond to phone calls or use those same managers to settle customer conflicts, store owners and headquarters run into a brick wall when they're not sure the root of store (or money loss) issues is with those same managers. They may also lose money by paying managers to do these kinds of tasks when their time might be better served in the daily needs of other parts of the stores.
Contractually, mystery shoppers have no association with the store nor any staff working there. So, their opinions are (ideally) neutral with a goal of helping retailers get a holistic approach from the entire store, including managers.
In today's economy, are mystery shoppers still needed?
Through review sites like Yelp, Google Reviews, SurveyMonkey, Facebook reviews and the Better Business Bureau, consumers have the option to sound off if they have an enjoyable or unpleasant shopping experience. Customers can even share their thoughts with the store by carrying out surveys on the receipts. So why is the shopper charging for mystery?
Retailers may not realize that there are two separate groups of individuals that each share their opinions. A mystery shopper has already agreed to provide a detailed report on what the company needs to learn more about. Typically, a customer only wants to purchase a product, or visit and leave the shop.
According to Opinion Lab via Forbes, 66 percent of customers prefer to reach out on their own voluntarily, rather than doing surveys. Around 72 per cent feel surveys (usually pop-ups) interfere with their online shopping. Eighty percent don't even bother to complete their survey. And 52 per cent on every survey does not spend more than three minutes. Retail stores often don't always do the best job of naming store survey contest winners, leaving customers questioning if anyone really won.
Meanwhile, an assignment to a mystery shop will take from a few minutes to over an hour anywhere. It is entirely up to the organization to determine how long it takes for the mystery shopper to be at the retail facility and how much input is needed to ensure the mystery shop is that. The mystery shopper learns ahead of time about the whole project.
Is Mystery Shopping still of use for Retail?
Today's number of mystery shoppers are actually a mystery, but in recent years the Bureau of Labour Statistics has estimated 4,800. Mystery shoppers are bound by law not to divulge who they are during the store. Almost always, the task is disqualified if the store workers find out who they are, or their input is incorrect or intentionally wrong.
If mystery shoppers want repeat jobs, they won't say who they're working for, even in the age of social media. This makes it too convenient for tech-savvy workers to find out a repeat job if they do. It's one of the reasons mystery shop companies often don't hire the same mystery shopper for the same place. When they are a "normal" client, then they will be remembered by employees. Relationships will evolve. So, the study of the mystery shopper is no longer impartial-just a mystery.