Which is Better? Traditional vs. Crowdsourced Mystery Shopping

Which is Better? Traditional vs. Crowdsourced Mystery Shopping

Every single business that currently operates in the free market wants to know exactly how their customers feel about their products or service and the entirety of their shopping experience. If a business did not care about their customer’s experience, it is likely to fail faster than you can say “big mistake.”

You or one of your team members might have said at one point: “We need answers to concerns about our CX directly from our customers.” Look no further: mystery shopping allows your business to assess operations on the ground level with complete objectivity.

For a complete overview of Mystery Shopping, including the what, why and how, check out our blog Mystery Shopping 101. In brief, a mystery shopper is a third party contributor hired by a business to evaluate their performance with a guided survey or questionnaire. Mystery shopping allows your business to determine whether all locations uphold the high standards you have set in place to achieve a positive customer experience and reduce customer churn.

Traditional vs. Crowdsourced Mystery Shopping

While mystery shopping programs are crucial to ensure outstanding customer experience, improve customer retention, assess facility conditions, monitor employee behavior, and observe the competition, how you deploy your mystery shopping program makes a big difference.

Free Download: Going Beyond Traditional Mystery Shopping to Understand Customer Experience

The Pitfalls of Traditional Mystery Shopping Programs

Traditional mystery shopping programs are costly, time-consuming and may cause your business to lose out on crucial, relevant data necessary to improve your customer experience and, in turn, boost sales.

High Cost

The actual cost of paying a mystery shopper is slight and feasible for any budget. Traditional mystery shopping programs rack up expenses in the set-up costs, recruiting mystery shoppers, deploying surveys, analyzing data from survey submissions and more.

Extended Timeline

Time is always of the essence. This is especially true in this highly competitive market where the consumer has endless options and 75% of millennials would switch to a different retailer if they feel that their customer service has been sub-par.

Your customer experience has to be exceptional, and it has to be exceptional right now. Traditional mystery shopping programs take up to six months to complete. By the time you complete a traditional mystery shopping program, you may have lost six months and who knows how many customers or potential customers?

COVID-19 has created economic uncertainty. Business decision makers are left with many questions and little idea as to what next month looks like, let alone six months from now. You need a quick and seamless solution.

Crucial Data Loss

Quick: write down a detailed description of your recent visit to the grocery store. Who greeted you? What products did you find in the aisle? Were the shelves on aisle B scarce or ample?

 It’s often difficult to remember in complete detail what you had for breakfast this morning, let alone the fine details about an in-store experience. These minute details may be unsubstantial to the shopper, but they can make or break your business. 

Traditional mystery shopping programs often assign surveys to be completed after their location visit, which requires shoppers to rely solely on their memory or brief notes taken in-store. While this is not the shopper’s fault, it can lead to inaccurate data reporting, or, if the data is accurate, the status of that data may have changed within the past few hours or days since it was reported. You need in-the-moment insights from shoppers while they are on location.

The Hero: Crowdsourced Mystery Shopping

For a more detailed examination of crowdsourcing including the types of crowdsourcing and why your business needs a crowdsourcing strategy, you can read our blog What is Crowdsourcing And Why Should You Care?

For brevity’s sake, we will summarize here: crowdsourcing is the process of solving a particular business problem by engaging a network of individuals to complete pre-established tasks or projects or gather, organize and analyze large vats of business data for strategic planning.

A crowdsourced mystery shopping program leverages a network of contributors to execute “tasks” established by your business in-store, in real time. There are many benefits to this approach, including the following:

Lower Cost

With a crowdsourced mystery shopping program, you can tap into an existing network of contributors, eliminating a good chunk of set-up time and the need for mystery shopper recruitment.


Access to a global network of digital, verified contributors allows you to easily diversify gender, ethnicity, location, shopping preferences and more of your mystery shopper selections. One size does not fit all when it comes to CX; creating a diverse group of mystery shoppers helps your business determine whether your existing CX appeals to all types of customers.

Data in Real Time

Crowdsourcing your mystery shopping program eliminates the issue of data expiration experienced with traditional mystery shopping programs. Crowdsourced mystery shoppers locate tasks in the marketplace section of their application, which they complete in real-time on location with photo proof if applicable. In addition, your project manager or any member of your team can access the compiled data in real-time directly in your business dashboard.

A crowdsourced mystery shopping program promises the high quality, accurate data you need to maximize business insights.

And the Winner Is…

By now, it should be clear that crowdsourcing your mystery shopping program is a cost-efficient, high-reward alternative to traditional mystery shopping programs. Crowdsourced mystery shopping promises real-time, global data from diverse contributors to reduce bias and promote actionable insights for your business needs.

Are you interested in learning more about how Premise can implement a successful crowdsourced mystery shopping program for your business? Visit www.premise.com/retail-audit or email info@premise.com. We can’t wait to help you become more data-driven.

Beyond Mystery Shopping - Know your customer's experience during COVID-19