Mystery shopping tips for a busy holiday season

The holiday season presents a unique set of challenges to mystery shoppers.

The holiday season presents a unique set of challenges to mystery shoppers. While managing their own finances and finding gifts for loved ones, they must also be ready to take on additional assignments because retailers and businesses want to ensure a pleasant shopping experience for all consumers. According to a survey conducted by the National Retailer Federation, 40.4 percent of participants claimed they would begin their holiday shopping before Halloween this year. This means many people have likely already started purchasing items they won't give out for another two months.

Preparation
While organization is always a best practice for successful mystery shoppers, it holds extra weight during this busy season. Spending can easily spiral out of control, so be sure to design a good system for tracking funds – both incoming and outgoing. Mystery Shop Maven suggested designing a budget and determining how much money you'll have to make on mystery shopping gigs to stick to that plan. Choose assignments strategically, aiming for the highest paying gigs that require a little less time, if possible.

Business Wire reported that 41 percent of consumers today partake in "Webrooming." This means they conduct research about a product online before traveling to a store in person to make their purchase. For mystery shoppers, this is an excellent way to increase knowledge on specific industries and add insight to writing reports. Some clients may ask that you bring in a certain amount of information when performing a shop to test an employee or salesperson on their expertise. Consumers are researching smaller purchases these days, in addition to larger investments. 

Execution
When completing shops during the holiday season, try to visit during off hours. In other words, avoid heading into a retailer during a very busy time of the week. For instance, shops are likely busiest on Saturday afternoons when most people are free to go out in search of gifts. Midday lunch hours and right after most offices close around 5 or 6 p.m. are typically busiest during the weekdays. Unless a mystery shopping assignment specifically calls for a visit during these peak hours, try completing a shop when the employees are not swamped and the venue is not crowded.

If you feel as though you need to complete more shops than normal to stick to your budget, make it a point to continually browse mystery shopping job boards and actively seek out opportunities. Being proactive and prepared is the best bet for all shoppers this holiday season.