Overview: Competitor shops are, as the name implies, where Company A wants information on the customer service, or other customer aspects of its competition. Rather than send their own employees to shop the competition, they hire a mystery shopping company to get the job done. Competitor shops can include, but are not limited to, restaurants, banks, car dealerships, grocery stores, office supply stores, drug stores, shoes, furniture, and jewelry stores.
Project variations: These are mostly the same as the regular shops. Some giveaways are you may see no question regarding the description of the sales associate or, in the case of EPMS, they will usually have less than 10 questions and almost no narrative.
Visit and reporting requirements: For the data gathered to be valid, strict adherence to the guidelines and instructions must be followed. Of course, this should be standard operating procedure for any mystery shopper on every assignment.
Strategies: There are no special strategies for competitor shops. As the competitor will likely not have the guidelines of the company being shopped, it’s especially important that all guidelines be followed, especially if any require timings (which should be accurate). The target company’s guidelines will likely be inferred from the data you provide, so accuracy is paramount.
Special note: If you don’t have an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the particular MSC’s clients, you may not know if it’s a competitor shop or not.
What others have to say: All shoppers agree that they conduct competitor shops as if they were regular shops so as not to compromise their integrity. A side benefit is it also keeps the data from being skewed. One veteran video shopper emphasized the importance of, if you believe you may be doing a competitor video shop in a two party state, that you notify the scheduler as it will be highly unlikely that the competition has received permission from the target to be audio recorded. If it is a competitor shop you will likely see it become a written shop.
The one possible drawback occurs if the competitor shop involves a commissioned sales person [home or automobile], and some shoppers dislike them for that reason. One shopper notes that they did a home shop where the competition was seeking to hire the sales associate for their next development and wanted to see how they handled a potential client.
Estimated pay: The pay scale generally falls within the same range as similar non-competitor shops.
MSCs: Almost any MSC can have competitor shops. I’ve done competitor shops for Bare and Trendsource.