A mystery shopper, also known as a secret shopper, is someone who purchases, tries or tests a companies product or service on their behalf, then reports back to them on their experience. Usually, there will be a specific product or scenario that the shopper must use or enquire about.
There are many different things a mystery shopper can be required to do:
Telephone or email a company with a specific enquiry regarding a product or service.
Visit a restaurant, sometimes by themself, often with others, and order some specified meals, drinks or courses.
Visit a showroom and make an enquiry about a product.
Order a takeaway.
Place an online order for an item.
What do I get Paid?
Actual reimbursement will vary from company to company. Some will pay travel expenses, usually at x pence per mile with a cap as to the maximum paid. For assignments that require you to purchase an item, you will usually get a fixed value reimbursement that will go towards, but may not cover, the amount spent. You can also get a fee for performing the task. Tasks that don't require a purchase should always pay a fee.
Do I Need Anything to do the Jobs?
Depending on the type of job, you will probably need one or more of the following:
Or other form of transport. A car will certainly be easier, but you need something to get you to your mystery shopping destination.
Many assignments require you to phone companies up, and in some cases phone you back. You will probably need both a mobile and a landline, as, although a mobile is fine for some assignments, others may require the company to call you back and for you to provide the image of another business.
You may be required to take pictures of places visited or products bought. A digital camera is by far superior to an old style camera that requires the photographs to be developed, as this is faster, cheaper and easier to transfer onto a computer.
Most mobile phones these days have a perfectly adequate camera built in, so you can use this. Camera resolutions above five megapixels are frankly too much for this type of usage, and indeed most personal and some business usage also.
These are all lumped together as one is no real use without the others. You will probably need a computer and internet connection in order to get assignments from your mystery shopping company, a computer to retrieve photographs from your digital camera or mobile phone, a printer to print out assignments, a scanner to copy receipts for purchases - although digital photographs may be accepted and some assignments may be purely internet based. An email address is also useful for these latter types of assignments.
Can I Make a Living At It?
Probably not. There are people who do, but you will most likely need to join a number of companies to get paid enough. Expense reimbursements and fees paid can be quite low, especially if the assignment requires travel.
What mystery shopping can do is provide cheap or free meals out, reductions in the cost of items you were possibly going to buy anyway, and reduce the cost of doing an errand you were planning to do by doing it at the same time as a small job you are being paid for.