It can sometimes be a lonely road to tow for mystery shoppers. Sure, your assignments generally bring you into contact with retail, hospitality and restaurant workers, but how often do you meet up to share experiences with your fellow secret shoppers? The truth is the individuals involved in the mystery shopping industry have backgrounds that vary widely, meaning they won't likely run into each other during the course of their regular lives. This is just one of the reasons the Mystery Shopping Providers Association of North America expanded its membership options last year to include a "Shopper Membership" category. Within roughly four months of extending membership to mystery shoppers at large, more than 3,500 individuals had signed up to become a part of the MSPA-NA. By joining the association, secret shoppers are able to take advantage of several benefits.
Getting more information about the mystery shopping world
As freelancers and independent employees, many secret shoppers aren't sure of how they fit in among their peers. For example, data aggregated from those who signed up as Shopper Members of the MSPA-NA found most secret shoppers - nearly 48 percent - work for more than five mystery shopping service providers. Fewer people complete assignments for between 3 - 5 service providers and clients, and this helps to showcase the fact that secret shoppers are part of a community of people that work in diverse environments.
Meanwhile, about 58 percent of mystery shoppers complete their assignments at between 1 - 10 shops every month. How long do mystery shoppers usually perform their role for providers? The number is probably higher than you'd expect. The majority, or just under a quarter of the members of the MSPA-NA, have been a secret shopper for 5 - 10 years. The next greatest percentage has been at it for 10 years or more.
Dan Denston, executive director of MSPA-NA, explained on Associations Now that the move to bring mystery shoppers together with the providers that have traditionally made up the organization will create a more comprehensive association. He went on to say that even insiders in the mystery shopping world aren't completely clear on who's involved in the industry considering almost anyone can become a secret shopper. Denston commented there are college students and retirees working in the same capacity, which can make it difficult to bring them together behind a common organization.
Industry-specific certification for secret shoppers
Roughly 87,000 secret shoppers had received certification through a program offered by the MSPA-NA, a process that has recently been updated to handle industry-specific assignments, wrote Association Now. As you can imagine, completing an assignment in a restaurant differs significantly from doing so in a bank or hotel. This is one of the chief reasons why the mystery shopping association decided to redesign some of its certification courses.
The association for mystery shoppers likely represents a small fraction of the total population, but belonging to a centralized organization can help you get in touch with others. Oftentimes, associations hold events throughout the year that allow members to meet and come together to see the diversity in the field. Denston told Association Now there are likely 500,000 mystery shoppers in the U.S., and a number of retailers and service providers depend on these individuals to get a clear understanding of how their workforce is performing.
Having an organization that understands and recognizes the challenges in a given field of work is always beneficial. It's even more helpful when they provide education and training courses that help you become stronger in your role as a secret shopper. As industry standards change, it's important for mystery shoppers to stay on top of them.