Mystery Shopper Jobs Online
If you have been here before, you know that I love exploring flexible extra income opportunities. I have written about many popular jobs here, but today, I want to share some of the most intriguing jobs out there: mystery shopping jobs.
From the phrase itself “mystery shopping,” I found this gig, well, a little mysterious. Some people say you can get free stuff from doing mystery shopper jobs online, and you can get paid for every store you shop at as well. That sounds great to me! I mean, who wouldn’t want to snag free items and get paid at the same time, right?
So, I researched more about mystery shopping jobs online and put together this post to share with you:
- What mystery shopping is and what the job entails
- Income potential in mystery shopping
- How to become a mystery shopper
- The best companies to work for as a mystery shopper
If you’d like to uncover the mystery of mystery shopping and see whether this side hustle is for you, please read on.
Mystery Shopping FAQ
What is mystery shopping?
Mystery shopping is a business tool used by companies to evaluate their products and services. Often, companies tap market research firms to carry out this process, and market research firms, in turn, deploy mystery shoppers to the store or establishment to determine whether their business complies with standards.
For instance, a company wants to find out whether their store staff is friendly or accommodating to the customers. So, the mystery shopper will visit the store in the guise of being an average customer. From the mystery shopper’s experience, the company can figure out whether its staff is providing standard customer service, among other things.
What do mystery shoppers do?
I feel it’s easier to think of mystery or secret shoppers as spies. They go to the scene and do what they were required to do. And then they create a detailed report and submit it to the boss. At least, that’s like the shortcut of it.
As a mystery shopper, it is your job to assess the quality of the product or service of the business assigned to you. In detail, you will have to:
- Visit the shop in the guise of being an average customer
- Purchase a product or avail a service to determine its quality
- Assess the staff’s quality of customer service
- Inspect and document the business environment
- Keep the receipts for reimbursement and documentation later on
- Create a detailed report of the overall experience with the assigned business
You have to remember never to blow your cover. You have to play your part of a regular shopper and accomplish the assigned task so you can create an objective report later on.
How much does mystery shopper make?
According to what I have found from numerous sources, mystery shopping typically does not have a flat rate or a rate per hour. You will be paid per task. And every task is different.
According to Michelle of Making Sense of Cents, who also once worked as a secret shopper, this job can compensate you in three ways: reimbursement only, cash only, and cash and reimbursement.
What do you need to become a mystery shopper?
Experience is actually not necessary. Mystery shopping doesn’t require any previous experience or any specialized skill. It’s easily one of the easiest no experience, entry-level jobs to get into.
It helps to have confidence as you will be dealing with the sales staff to make a purchase, file a complaint or ask a question, etc. It’s also essential to have excellent verbal and written communication skills because you will have to write a detailed report of your experience later.
This is not necessary, but advantageous. The Mystery Shopping Providers Association offers two types of certifications (Gold and Silver) to aspiring secret shoppers for a small fee. This certification can help you land mystery shopper jobs legit gigs as some companies prefer to hire certified secret shoppers.
You will also need a smartphone or camera to take photos of the business environment (if required by your assignment); an active PayPal account to process your payments, a computer, and an internet connection to find and book jobs as well as submit reports.
What should you expect about mystery shopping as a side job?
- If you know how much a mystery shopper get paid, you’ll realize that you can’t live on your mystery shopping income alone. Mystery shopper jobs online won’t pay your mortgage or pay for your vacations. It’s a nice side hustle to have if you’re only aiming to increase your income and you have a couple of days a week when you have nothing better to do. I don’t think mystery shopping will cover all your living expenses, so don’t rely on it too much.
- You’ll take money out-of-the-pocket. When you accept gigs when you have to buy something or pay for meals, expect that such money will come from your pocket. The company will reimburse you on your payday, along with your fee.
- It is a time commitment. Typically, you’ll have 24 hours to file your report on your assignment, and you have to do the report to a “T.” With that said, you have to remember every detail of the assignment. If you take a couple of assignments in one day, that means you’ll have a number of reports to write as well. Time management is key.
Are mystery shopper jobs real?
During my research, I see this question a lot: are mystery shopper jobs legit?
Here’s what I would like to really warn you about: There are perfectly-crafted mystery shopper jobs online, and these listings feel too good to pass up. But, there are also lots of mystery shopping scammers out there preying on unsuspecting individuals.
Often, these scammers will ask you a simple task, like wiring money to Western Union and promise that you’ll get paid a handsome rate. If you find a gig that sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. This modus is quite popular on the internet, and those who aren’t well-informed can fall into the scammers’ trap.
It is essential to inspect every mystery shopper jobs online that comes your way. Ideally, you should only take tasks from the most reputable market research firms. I have listed a couple of legit mystery shopping companies below where you can find mystery shopping gigs.
Mystery Shopper Jobs Online: Where To Find Legit Secret Shopping Gigs
If you’re asking, “where can I find mystery shopping jobs near me?” BestMark will likely come up in your searches. The company is one of the country’s first and largest providers of mystery shoppers and works with various 500/100/50 Fortune companies. BestMark mostly caters to businesses in the hospitality industry.
To apply at BestMark, you can fill up the application form via their website. They will screen your application and then get back to you through email if you’re approved. The company will reimburse you for your expenses made in-store, and you’ll also receive a flat fee (depends on the assignment. You have to be of legal age, own reliable transportation, and have excellent communication skills to work at BestMark.
BestMark pays you three to four weeks upon completion of the project, made to your PayPal account, or in the form of a check or gift card. According to most reviews, BestMark pays between $10-$25 per assignment.
Secret Shopper is a market analysis firm that hires mystery shoppers as independent contractors. It’s been around for more than three decades and has won a couple of awards from the MSPA.
You are free to join Secret Shopper even without any mystery experience. However, you have to be detail-oriented and have excellent communication skills. You also need to be at least 18 years old to sign up. The company currently accepts applicants from the Caribbean, Europe, Canada, and the US.
According to Secret Shopper’s FAQ, mystery shoppers are paid between $15-$25, depending on the task. If you were tasked to visit a restaurant, the payment could be a meal for two. Payments are processed via PayPal and will arrive in your account on the 20th of the month (for tasks done the month before).
Sinclair Customer Metrics
Sinclair is also a reputable mystery shopping company and has a steady demand for people looking for secret shopper jobs. It has a BBB A+ rating, which means it is a legit company to work with. Sinclair offers a wide range of mystery shopping types, including on-site, telephone, video, and competitor mystery shopping.
Sinclair works in different industries, including food, retail, grocery, and banks. Sinclair’s pay for each shop is not disclosed, but according to Indeed, Sinclair pays $10/hour. Also, a lot of people speak highly of this company, so it’s definitely worth checking out.
Yardi Matrix provides telephone mystery shopping services. The company mainly operates within the real estate industry, and mystery shoppers are often asked to do rent-related surveys. Your role is to pretend that you want to rent, and you’ll ask around apartments for rent prices.
Interestingly, Yardi acquires mystery shoppers as employees, and not as independent contractors. This means you can turn mystery shopping into a part-time job instead of a side hustle. The company deducts taxes from your income, and you’ll also be entitled to common employee benefits.
Work at Yardi is seasonal, and each contract lasts about six weeks long. However, if you prove yourself to be a fantastic employee, they might renew your contract for another cycle. And unlike other mystery shopping companies that pay per assignment, Yardi pays per hour. You can earn $6-$10hour, and you’ll also earn $0.50 for each completed survey.
Market Force is another leading name in the mystery shopping industry. It’s been around since 1972, and holds operations in the US, France, Spain, Canada, and the UK. According to their website, Market Force has more than 300,000 mystery shoppers serving over 100,000 shops a month.
The company provides mystery shopping jobs online opportunities for a wide range of industries, including retail, restaurant, hospitality, banking, and grocery, among others.
It’s easy and free to join Market Force as a secret shopper. You can apply directly to their website. They need you to be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma.
Market Force’s official pay rate for secret shoppers is not disclosed, but when you’re on the site or app, you could see right away how much each assignment pays. The good thing about their platform is that you can negotiate and offer a different rate. Market Force also has a mobile app that allows you to easily check mystery shopper jobs near you.
Intellishop is a customer experience research & improvement firm operating in the US. The company serves B2B industries, ranging from grocery stores, appliances, hospitality, retail, restaurants, government offices and many others.
Intellishop provides different forms of mystery shopping: online, onsite, telephone, and video. If you don’t have the time to leave your home to visit a store personally, you can opt for the other types of mystery shopping instead.
To start getting gigs, you can scour through Intellishop’s job board. They also send you email alerts for potential mystery shopping gigs that you might like. The company typically pays $5-$10 per shop, and your earnings are deposited to your PayPal account once a month.
Second to None
Founded in 1989, Second To None has established quite a good track record for itself over the years. It operates in the US and Canada, serving a wide range of industries, including retail and eCommerce, restaurants, financial services, healthcare, etc.
You can join Second To None by creating a shopper account on their website. If you qualify, you will start receiving emails about potential gigs in your area. You could also look proactively by looking for gigs on their website.
There’s a good variety of assignments that you can find in Second To None. The company also reimburses for any purchase you’ve made while on the job, plus your pay. Each job pays differently, but according to most sources, Second To None pays between $8-$25 per assignment.
Reviews of Mystery Shopper Jobs From Real Secret Shoppers
Are you itching to start searching “mystery shopper jobs near me” on Google. I know how you feel. A job that pays you to shop and eat is a truly fantastic side hustle.
But before you do just that, I also looked around for a couple of reviews of mystery shopper jobs on the web. By getting a real mystery shopper’s perspective, it would set our expectations to a realistic level.
An unnamed contributor wrote on Forbes, and detailed her experience working as a mystery shopper. She started earning some money from her very first stint. As she hustled more, the money just kept on coming. She came to a point when she filled all her days, weekends included, with mystery shopping jobs. She earned over $14,000 from mystery shopping alone in 2008, and was able to pay off her car, thanks to this side hustle.
“I began doing jobs during my lunch hour. I could even do them on my way home from work, since I’d be walking past retail locations anyway. Slowly but surely, the money began to roll in,” the author wrote.
Francesca of The Money Fox also detailed her mystery shopping experience on her blog. Francesca said she came across mystery shopping when she was broke. But mystery shopping helped her earn a small income, as well as get some stuff and eat meals for free.
Mystery Shopper Jobs Near Me: Are They For Me?
Mystery shopper jobs online aren’t much of a mystery to me anymore, and I think it’s a great side hustle that allows you to build some nice income. But the question is: is mystery shopping for me?
I love the fact that mystery shopping doesn’t require much to get into. At the very least, you have to be of legal working age and have great communication skills. The perks are also awesome. Who can resist getting free stuff, right?
But I’d also like to reiterate that it also requires time and work. You need to make sure to handle the interaction based on the instructions of your assignment. You also need to create a report and file it right away.
Overall, I believe that mystery shopping is a great way to earn some cash, get out of the house for a little bit, and enjoy some “retail therapy,” if I may say. So if you’re looking for a side hustle that has these features, then mystery shopping is probably a good fit for you.
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