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Mystery shopping (related terms: mystery shoppermystery consumer, mystery research, shadow shopper, secret shopper, secret shopping and auditor) is a method used by marketing research companies and organisations to measure quality of sales and service, job performance, regulatory compliance, or to gather specific information. A mystery shopper goes into a retail shop, restaurant, bank branch or any other location to measure the quality of customer experience thus advising the relevant organisation ways to improve its performance and customer satisfaction.

As a mystery shopper you will visit an organisation and pretend to be a normal customer or employee while collecting information about the organisation’s services and activities as per the instructions from the company concerned. This role plays a part in meeting customers’ expectations. The information that you may be asked to find could relate to a store’s displays and prices, product quality or the work ethic of the employees. In this way customer service can be improved if faults or indiscretions are found. Mystery shopping may include making purchases which should be reimbursed by the company. You then file a report on the shopping experience, including any receipts for items purchased, which the company can use to increase their sales, have satisfied customers and employees, as well as profit margins.

Requirements for this job are ability to keep calm in any situation, honesty, friendliness, accuracy in report writing skills, a good eye for detail and a good memory. Flexible working hours and good communication skills are imperative. A digital camera would be required for eg a gas station cleanliness report, transport whether it be your own vehicle or public transport, and the updating of a log file of all places visited and all reports.

A few examples that a mystery shopper may be required to do:

  1. Buying a beer at a bar
  2. Shopping in a grocery store
  3. Visiting an apartment community
  4. Evaluation a gas station for cleanliness and customer service.

Payment is usually by the hour so it can be part-time, providing a supplementary income.

No specific training or education is required to become a Mystery Shopper. Some companies give brief training sessions outlining the skills to be used and give detailed instructions for each assignment that Mystery Shoppers must follow to get paid.


  • Start-up Capital: Nil
  • Space required: Nil
  • Equipment: Digital camera and notepad
  • Specific skills: Good communication and writing skills


Free online courses & information


See this free online course on how to be a mystery shopper: