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Demystifying the Art of Mystery Shopping

The consumer market is a brutal battlefield where seemingly trivial details can drastically affect your sales and even your whole brand. While most people walk into a store with a clear intention of exactly what they intend to purchase, most people are equally aware of how easily a list of twelve items can turn into a full trolley. This phenomenon is a result of product placement.

Who Needs Mystery Shoppers?

Mystery shopping is immensely beneficial to any service or product-based businesses with physical locations. It enables business owners to get honest feedback about how consumers experience their business and where necessary, act to improve the experience. Beneficiaries of mystery shopping can range from supermarkets and restaurants to financial institutions and rental companies. Ideally, the mystery shopper is an agent of a third party agency and not the business itself.

What do Mystery Shoppers Do?

Typically, mystery shoppers interact with a business the way any other consumer would. They purchase items, try on clothing, return goods or eat at restaurants. Their feedback is meant to be objective, and as far as possible, measurable, so they cannot give their opinions about an establishment.

Mystery shoppers may be asked to gather information and report from the perspective of a typical consumer. The information included in such a report could be the courtesy of the staff, the number of staffers on duty and available to serve customers, names of employees they interacted with, how quickly assistance was offered and whether or not complementary upsells were offered. The report can also include details about the state of the facility, including hygiene in the facility and the staff’s grooming and cleanliness.

Occasionally, mystery shoppers can be asked to act as “problem” customers. Such an exercise can help a business ascertain how well equipped they are to deescalate conflict or diffuse tense situations.

What are the Benefits of Hiring Mystery Shoppers?

Mystery shopping is a great way to gather objective information about the consumer experience in your business. The benefits include:

  1. Measurable service performance

  2. Monitoring of facility condition

  3. Measurable effectiveness of staff

  4. Identifying training needs

  5. Improving customer relations

  6. Increased staff integrity

  7. Competitive analysis between locations


The ideal consumer experience is meant to be delightful, efficient and straightforward. Having a facility and a staff contingent that can make this a reality can significantly improve sales and increase consumer loyalty. It is therefore imperative to continually gather information and always look for ways to make your consumer experience, especially through mystery shopping.

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