With more products in the market, companies have to figure a way to keep up with competitions. This has lead to an interesting opportunity where consumers get paid for mystery shopping. As secretive as it sounds, there are actually thousands of people doing this type of job every day. But, is it a great way to make some side cash? Let’s find out.
What Is a Mystery Shopper
Mystery shoppers are basically regular people like you and me who shop for a specific purpose, testing out different scenarios and providing thorough feedback within a certain time frame. It’s a mechanism used by companies to measure and gather detailed information about the quality of their products and services.
This type of activity has been around for a very long time and an increasing number of companies worldwide are employing such strategy to improve on their products and services through unbiased audits. There’s even a professional organization called MPSA (Mystery Shopping Providers Association) that watches and regulates what goes on in the industry. For people who are interested in becoming trained mystery shoppers, they also provide certification for a cost, but that’s not necessary.
Assignments come in all types of tasks. You could be shopping at retail stores, dining at the restaurants, washing your car and some, even go on traveling. These tasks can be found either through agencies or mystery shopping apps on your mobile phone.
Here are some examples to check out.
- I Shop for Ipsos
- Secret Shoppers
- Market Force
- In Touch InSight
- Shoppers Canada
- We Check Service
- Field Agent
- iSecret Shop
To get started with agencies, you must be at least 18 years old, have internet access, your own transport and possess good observation and communication skills.
After you’ve been assessed and accepted, you may undertake assignments and shop discreetly based on what is required. All the experience will be translated into detailed reports to submit for review. Upon approval, you’ll be compensated in the form of a check, PayPal or direct deposit.
Getting started with the apps is much easier and faster as there is a less stringent screening process. Anyone with mobile phones can basically install the app and undertake shopping tasks that are nearby their place.
They will go into the store with their phones, do what needs to be done like trying products or taking pictures, submit their findings and wait for reviews. Once approved, you’ll earn points which can be redeemed for gift cards or donate to charities that are available. With some, you can also earn points by referring new shoppers to use the apps.
Doesn’t sound too complicated, right? Well, let’s look into some of the perks you can get with being an undercover shopper.
1 – First of all, the job is flexible and you are free to choose your own shopping hours.
2 – In most cases, you can pick assignments that you are comfortable or familiar with.
3 – Besides compensating money for your effort, you will also get reimbursement for the products or services that were purchased. Sometimes, you get to keep the item or do something for free, so that’s an extra bonus.
4 – Even though some companies are selective, you don’t need to have experience to get started. However, if you choose to become a certified mystery shopper, you’ll be more eligible for difficult tasks that obviously pay more.
5 – Value wise, I think the tasks can train you to become more analytical about the shopping process in general. This can benefit your experience as a consumer as well as contributing constructive feedback to the market involved.
Now, time for some reality check that may not have been obvious to you.
1 – Not every country or everyone will have access to mystery shopping opportunities. I suggest that you search based on your locality and do not depend on what you read online. And if it does exist and you live in a populated area, get ready to face some competitions from other shoppers because they may be earning from the job too.
2 – Speaking of online, there are many fake companies that recruit new shoppers by showering them with lucrative offers. It usually involves wiring money from your bank account to theirs in such a way that makes you think it is a legitimate process when it is actually not. Some even asked to pay for a membership fee, which legitimate companies don’t do.
People lose hundreds of dollars in such online scams so make sure that the companies you are applying for is a member of MPSA or at least, compliant to the standard guidelines.
3 – There is no fixed value as to how much you would be compensated until you look into the details of the assignments because every shopping task will differ according to locations and marketing goals.
4 – If you sign up through agencies, especially reputable ones that work with high profile brands, it may take a while to get your application approved. Plus, if you’re just a beginner, you will usually be given easier tasks that pay in smaller amounts and like any job, you’ll have to earn your way up.
Now, if you are paying for purchases upfront, it will likely take 30 to 90 day period to get the reimbursement. This will not be ideal if you need fast cash flow to sustain daily expenditure. It can be stressful to wait that long.
5 – Not all shopping tasks will be suitable or available all the time, so to increase your participation, you’ll have to sign up for more than one site and constantly be on the lookout for job openings.
6 – Even though the job isn’t physically demanding, you do have to be on site to get things done and this will incur travel expenses such as fuel and parking fee. So it’s important to consider these factors and not to travel too far away when you are undertaking the assignments.
7 – In case you don’t realize, earning as a mystery shopper makes you an independent contractor and therefore, you must report for income tax when the time comes, whether you like it or not.
8 – Lastly, if you don’t have a sharp observation or memory skills, accomplishing these tasks can be quite a challenge. Companies will know when they see poor evaluation reports so, at the very least, make sure to brush up on these skills before you apply.
So, Is Mystery Shopping Worth Your Time?
If you are into shopping and like giving constructive opinions as a consumer, this is a totally legitimate job that can make you some extra cash during your free time. Some people earn a few hundreds per month and the numbers could potentially add up to a couple of thousands per year, if you are committed to the tasks.
You just need to follow the steps on the shopping details provided by the agencies or through the apps. As long as you don’t fall for any online scams, it just the matter of planning your time around the assignments.
Rationally speaking, getting paid for mystery shopping will not make you rich – that’s for sure. If you prefer something that can generate a growing income for the long term, you are better off at starting an online business.
Don’t have any experience? This robust training platform can educate you for free so do check it out.
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