Retail assignments are what most people think about when they hear the term "mystery shopper." The lure of jobs in clothing stores often attract many people to the line of work, especially those who already consider themselves shopping experts.
However, individuals looking to earn a little extra money in their spare time shouldn't necessarily shy away from signing up as a mystery shopper simply because they don't enjoy purchasing clothes. There are many jobs across a wide range of industries that require these unbiased service evaluations to ensure customers are having the types of experiences that will drive satisfaction and loyalty.
Retailers using mystery shopping to improve service in wake of recession
That isn't to say there aren't a large number of retail assignments posted on mystery shopping companies' job boards. In fact, the recent economic downturn has caused a resurgence in the retail sector's focus on customer service. While most jobs before the downturn took place in national chains that wanted to compare experiences across locations, there are a rising number of specialty and luxury stores that are using these services, according to industry advice site The Mystery Shopper's Manual.
This could be good news for fashionistas, since some clients will offer both a cash payment for the completed visit and report as well as a reimbursement for items purchased on site. Usually these are small items, but it could mean shoppers get a new pair of earrings, a scarf or nice pair of socks.
Since these clients cater to niche markets, they often have trickier criteria, the source adds. For instance, businesses may ask for secret shoppers who represent specific consumer demographics, and they may ask participants to focus on additional criteria in the shop guidelines. This could add to the prep time before an assignment and require additional focus in stores.
Tips for successful retail mystery shops
Fortunately, these jobs have traditionally been abundant, so shoppers have developed a number of tricks that make it easier to remember everything from a retail assignment. After browsing clothing racks, shoppers can sneak off into a dressing room where they can jot down a note about the amount of time they waited to be greeted, and if certain items were available in the correct size, explains The Mystery Shop Maven. This will also give them a chance to make notes about the facility's cleanliness.