Mystery Shopping 101

by | Apr 20, 2022

What is Mystery Shopping?

A mystery shopper is an anonymous consumer hired to provide an unbiased evaluation of your company’s operations through guided observation.

The Types of Mystery Shopping

There are four types of mystery shopping that allow businesses to analyze their customer journey for actionable insights:

1. In-Person Mystery Shopping. In-person mystery shopping requests that a single shopper visits a brick-and-mortar business location to assess the process of making a purchase.

2. Telephone Mystery Shopping. Telephone mystery shopping is intended for businesses or specific departments that operate largely through telephone communication (i.e. call centers, help desks, IT departments, etc.). The mystery shopper calls the business to gather information for the evaluation.

3. Internet Mystery Shopping. Internet mystery shopping is intended for businesses that operate primarily through e-commerce or businesses that would like to assess their e-commerce channel from a customer experience perspective. The mystery shopper visits the business’ website to assess the browsing, check-out and follow-up process for evaluation.

4. Multi-Functional Mystery Shopping. Multi-functional mystery shopping allows businesses with multiple distribution channels to use a combination of in-person, telephone or internet mystery shopping to assess the entire customer journey from start to finish.

The Mystery Shopping Process

Step 1: The mystery shopper receives a detailed questionnaire established by a third-party service based on a set of KPIs pre-established by the business. Mystery shoppers are most commonly asked to identify their experience with the following:

  •     Store appearance and organization
  •     Employee responsiveness
  •     Employee selling and up-selling
  •     The check-out process including returns and exchanges

Step 2: The mystery shopper visits the business, taking note of the specific information requested from the questionnaire. The goal of the mystery shopper is to provide the third-party service with detailed observation of the business’ customer experience.

 Step 3: Once the visit is complete, the mystery shopper submits the completed questionnaire to the third party service for detailed analysis and reporting.

The Key Benefits of Mystery Shopping

There are countless benefits of implementing a mystery shopping program that may be useful to your business:

Unbiased Data

 Mystery shoppers provide unbiased and extremely useful quantitative and qualitative feedback on their customer experience from start to finish that can help businesses determine how actual customers would proceed through the customer journey.

Actionable Insights

 Data acquired from mystery shoppers is compiled, sorted into patterns, and analyzed to provide actionable insights for businesses. These insights allow businesses to develop a strategic course of action to optimize operations and improve the customer journey.

Solving Problems & Rewarding Efficiencies

 A mystery shopping program can uncover lapses in the customer experience that contribute to lost revenue, customer dissatisfaction, and reduced market share and subsequently solve these problems through customer feedback or competitive data.

 Mystery shopping programs can also identify operational strengths like exceptional selling or productive merchandising and allow businesses to reward those strengths and efficiencies as they see fit (i.e. bonus programs or non-monetary rewards

A more detailed analysis on the key benefits of mystery shopping can be found in our blog Why Your CPG Brand Needs Crowdsourced Mystery Shopping.

Is Mystery Shopping Right for Your Business?

Companies of any size in any industry can benefit from mystery shopping to evaluate the entirety of the customer experience from search to nurture. 

 Mystery shopping is most popular in the retail, restaurant, hotel and healthcare industries, which all rely heavily on a brick-and-mortar presence and hospitality. However, as we explored in the “What is Mystery Shopping?” section, there are alternatives to the traditional in-person mystery shopper including telephone and internet mystery shopping, which apply to a wider range of businesses.

Does Your Business Need a Mystery Shopping Program?

Here are a few questions to ask yourself and your team when determining whether you should establish and nurture a mystery shopping program:

  1. Do you want to identify and solve weak spots in your business model?
  2. Do you want to improve your business’ customer journey and experience?
  3. Do you want to increase market share?

 If you answered “yes” to just one of these three questions, then your business needs a mystery shopping program, and we can help.

Mystery Shopping with Premise

At Premise, we provide your company with a verified and well-trained mystery shopping network that takes the responsibility of sourcing shoppers, coordinating store visits, and gathering data off your plate. Our innovative application allows us to efficiently manage the launch and operation of your program while acquiring a significant amount of valuable data for analysis and actionable insight.

Interested in learning more about how Premise can fulfill your mystery shopping needs? Visit us at or email [email protected] We can’t wait to help you become more data-driven.