Q1 How does mystery shopping work?

The process involved in mystery shopping tends to vary from job to job, but most commonly you'll be given a specific set of instructions to read before venturing into a shop or business.

Mystery shopping jobs typically include:

1. Guidelines on what to buy as part of the assessment (normally quite flexible)

2. A list of questions to ask in store

3. What photographs to take

4. Details of things to watch out for and to take a mental note of (e.g. cleanliness, lighting, if you were greeted as you walked in)

5. When you should have your written report submitted by.

6. Once you get home, you'll usually need to write up a report on your findings and send this to the agency. This can take up to two hours to complete, so make sure you leave yourself enough time afterwards 

to get the paperwork done.

Q2 What does a mystery shopper do?

Here’s how a mystery shop usually works:

1. You join a mystery shopping company, such as Bestmark.

2. Apply for and find mystery shopper jobs through the platform.

3. If you are approved, you then read what the mystery shop job entails (what they want you to look for) and make sure you understand the secret shopping guidelines.

4. Complete the mystery shopping assignment, whether that is by phone, online, in-person, and so on. If you are supposed to buy something, make sure you keep your receipt as you will need it to complete 

the questionnaire you are given.

5. Submit the mystery shopping questions with your opinions, rate the customer experience, and any proof that they require.

6. Get paid for the mystery shopping job.

7. Finding mystery shopping gigs doesn’t have to be hard. Simply sign up for mystery shopping platforms such as Bestmark, and you’ll see a lot of different secret shopper jobs for you to check out and try.

Q3 Do secret shoppers keep what they buy?

Yes, secret shoppers get to keep what they buy.

I regularly would complete mystery shopping jobs just for this reason. So that I could get free restaurant meals, free makeup, free clothing, free oil changes, and so on.


Q4 Do mystery shoppers get paid upfront?

Mystery shoppers do not typically get paid upfront. Usually, you will have to pay for the item, and then the company will reimburse you after you leave your mystery shopping review. Companies do this so that the 

employee does not know that you are a mystery shopper, and so that the company knows that you will actually go in and complete the mystery shopping job, and not simply take the money and run.

# Best Top 5 Mystery Shopping Companies :

1. iShopFor Ipsos

Payment – Generous (some are unpaid, like restaurant visits, but you'll receive a free meal out of it)

Pros – Generous payment

Cons – Reporting process is time-consuming.

Ipsos is one of the biggest consumer panels in the world. There are a wealth of assignments on Ipsos Mystery Shopping covering the whole of the UK and often smaller UK suburbs as well as bigger cities.

2. Clickworker

Payment – Usually around €8 – €12 plus other bonuses

Pros – No purchases required, possibility to rework and resubmit jobs

Cons – Payment in Euros only, via PayPal or bank transfer.

Clickworker is a well-established micro-tasking company that has also expanded into the mystery shopper realm. Most of the assignments involve going to a shop in your area and taking pictures of product shelves.

The best part is that you can choose whichever shop from the chains provided. They don't make you go to specific addresses, so you have a lot of free choices. A short trip to the high street or nearest retail park 

is usually all that's required. What's even better is that there is no purchase necessary for these assignments. Clickworker regularly offers mystery photography jobs for most countries in Europe, the Middle East 

and the USA.

3. Nielsen Homescan

Payment – Depends on what products you scan and how often

Pros – Free to join, fun to do, established company

Cons – Can take a while to accumulate points and claim rewards.

This market research site, Homescan consumer panel, is more geared towards your shopping habits. When you sign up they'll send you a scanner that you have to use to record your household purchases, 

such as your grocery shopping.

4. Mystery Dining by HGEM

Payment – No payment offered for most jobs, but usually you get a big enough budget to pay for your entire meal and sometimes travel expenses covered

Pros – Free meals!

Cons – Reporting process takes longer than mystery shopping as requires more detail.

Mystery Dining offer free meals at certain restaurants to culinary experts who are willing to take the time to write a detailed report on their experience afterwards. To join up you need to first 'pass' an application 

process to see if you're the right fit. Rejection rates are quite high, so make sure you take the time to do this part properly. Also worth noting that the more you work and the better job you make of it, you'll be 

awarded a reviewer rating badge – go for gold and you could be awarded a Michelin star experience.

5. GBW (previously GAPbuster)

Payment – Between £5 – £35 per job

Pros – Paperwork is clear and easy to complete

Cons – Payment is quite low and reimbursement slow.

GBW used to be known as GAPbuster, but has quite a few famous clients. McDonald's is their biggest client so this company is a great choice if you fancy some free Happy Meals. They have been reported to 

send out repeat assignments to the same location as well to monitor improvements, so this might not be the best choice if you're looking for variety.

Pragati Agrawal MBA 

Business Analyst

AirCrews Aviation Pvt. Ltd. 

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