What Is a Mystery Shopper?

moving-questions-01No, a mystery shopper isn’t a stranger who enters a retail store in hopes of purchasing a product. The term “mystery shopper” is used to describe someone who’s paid to evaluate the quality of customer service, quality of product, and store layout. As the name suggests, he or she doesn’t give away their true identify, but instead pretends to be a regular shopper in search of a product.

Thousands of major retail stores throughout the country use mystery shoppers for quality control purposes. Unfortunately, though, there’s a lot of bad information on the subject, leading both store owners and shoppers  down the wrong path.

The Role of a Mystery Shopper

Mystery shoppers are typically hired by larger quality control companies to act as a regular shopper/customer while simultaneously evaluating several aspects of the retail store. Neither the store manager nor the employees are initially aware of the mystery shopper. They assume the individual is just another shopper who’s browsing the store, but in reality the mystery shopper is taking mental notes to create a detailed report.

Benefits of Mystery Shoppers For Retail Stores

  • Ensure employees greet each and every shopper who enters the store.
  • Ensure the store follows the company’s standards.
  • Check the store’s cleanliness (or lack thereof).
  • Analyze the quality of the merchandise.
  • Analyze the employees’ attitude and disposition.
  • Analyze productivity levels.

Think of a mystery shopper as a fly on the wall. If the store knew a person was coming to evaluate the quality of their work (and the other criteria mentioned above), the manager and employees would probably put their best foot forward so they don’t receive a failing score. But this eliminates the entire purpose of quality control, which is to ensure each and every customer receives the proper treatment.

History of Mystery Shoppers

Contrary to what some people may believe, mystery shoppers aren’t new. Some of the first known reports of people getting paid to pretend to shop date back to the 1940s. Today, mystery shoppers are used by retail businesses of all shapes and sizes. They allow retail executives to identify problems within their stores in an authentic nature.

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