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Mystery Shopping

By Ifeoma Tete Mbuk

In Nigeria, mystery shopping is not yet a recognised business, but with the growing number of retail establishments and stiff competition in the operating environment, there exists a business opportunity in this area. Without overstating the importance of quality customer service, more and more companies should engage the services of mystery shoppers to know if their businesses are meeting the needs of their customers.

In the mystery shopping business, a mystery shopper, also called secret shopper pretends to be an actual or potential customer of a business. However, depending on the research assignment, the shopper will be asked to act like a real customer of the business – buy electronics, try on a wedding dress, rent a car, stay in a hotel, open a bank account, eat in a restaurant, buy a plane ticket, even participate in a training session.
Do you love to shop and also have extra time on your hands? Mystery shopping is for you. You can earn money for visiting stores and even get lots of things for free. Comments from anonymous buyers are also a way to get information on the effectiveness of their staff training and development programs, and identify key areas where additional sales training may be needed.

What It Takes to be a Mystery Shopper

Your role as a mystery shopper is to gather information and make observations that the client company wants to know about. You will be given specific instructions for each assignment, including the dates and times you need to visit the identified business.
Good communication skills and sociability are key qualities a mystery shopper needs to have. You will not be a passive customer who will simply sit down and observe. In many instances, you will need to interact with the customer service people, and ask the questions to get the information that the client wants.

At the end of your assignment, you will be asked to write and submit a report based on your findings. Competent writing skills thus are crucial for mystery shoppers. You must be able to express in words what you have observed succinctly and clearly. Mystery shopping companies are not looking for Pulitzer Prize potentials, but people who are able to articulate in words the observations they have made.

You also need to have computer basic skills, as instructions and communications with the company are done online. Some companies will let you fill up an online form, while others will send you a document that you need to fill out and email back to them.

Oftentimes (depending on the company), you do not necessarily need to have experience as a mystery shopper to apply. However, the frequency and type of assignments offered to one just starting a career in mystery shopping are different from one who has a good track record with proven reliability as a shopper.

Earning Money as a Shopper

Mystery shoppers are considered as independent contractors, not employees of the company. As such, you have the flexibility to accept assignments (even from other mystery shopping companies), and work in the time and place that you want.

Each shopping assignment has different payment arrangements, and will depend on where you live, market demand and urgency of the task. As a shopper, you can expect to earn high anywhere from N5000 or higher per assignment, depending on the shopping assignment. You can earn more for higher-paying assignments such as rental apartments, car dealers, and gyms.

The amount you will earn, including cost reimbursements, are or reject the job. There are companies who will only pay for reimbursement of cost if the assignment offers some kind of “personal benefit” (e.g. eating in a restaurant where payment is reimbursement for the cost of a meal for two). Some assignments may give you reimbursement of cost plus a token report fee. Depending on the demand for mystery shopper in your area, you can expect to earn anywhere from N50,000 to N100,000 a month in cash and freebies.

Mystery shopping business

Now this is a business opportunity for you. You can be a part-time mystery shopper and still keep your job. You can also develop this business into a new venture. If you love shopping, if you have what it takes to be a shopper (as stated above) and a proper business plan, then you can make mystery shopping an exciting as well as a financially rewarding venture. You can start by identifying retail businesses in your area offering same type of service. Research and update yourself with the services they offer. Observe the similarities and differences in their service delivery patterns. Think of what can be done to match or better identified service gaps or differences. Gather information from different sources and write a detailed report on your findings. You are all set to go. The information you have gathered is your product. Sell it for a fee. Better still, you can be engaged by a company to get information for them. Either way, you are in business.
If you need more information about mystery shopping, please send an email to: ify@yfyservices.com

Have a beautiful Sunday!


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.