Mystery Shopping

Mystery shopping or Mystery audit is a tool used by market research companies to measure quality of retail service or gather specific information about products and services. Mystery shoppers posing as normal customers perform specific tasks—such as purchasing a product, asking questions, registering complaints or behaving in a certain way – and then provide detailed reports or feedback about their experiences.

Shoppers are often given instructions or procedures to make the transaction atypical to make the test of the knowledge and service skills of the employees more stringent or specific to a particular service issue (known as scenarios). For instance, mystery shoppers at a restaurant may pretend they are lactose-intolerant, or a clothing store mystery shopper could inquire about gift-wrapping services. Not all mystery shopping scenarios include a purchase.

While gathering information, shoppers usually blend in to the store being evaluated as regular shoppers. They may sometimes be required to take photographs or measurements, return purchases, or count the number of products, seats, people during the visit. A timer or a stopwatch may be required. In some states, mystery shoppers must also be licensed as private investigators in order to perform some of the tasks.

From there, the shopper will then submit the data collected to the Mystery shopping company in question. The data is then reviewed and analyzed before quantitative and qualitative statistical [analysis] reports on the data are then returned to the client company that enables measurement against the previously defined criteria.


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