Edited By Ceridwyn

“The Mystery Shopping World Demystified”

Contributed by itsasecret, Mystery Shop Forum Member.

There are many questions that come up repeatedly on Mystery Shop Forum that will be compiled in a series of articles here in the Mystery Shopping Magazine. We hope that this will be a convenient resource for you to find the answers you are looking for regarding the tips and techniques and tools used in this business.

FAQ: What is a public job board? Most mystery shoppers probably found their first shop on a public job board. The Mystery Shop Forum, MSPA, Shadow Shopper, Volition, Jobslinger, and NARMS are just a few that host job boards used by mystery companies to advertise their available open assignments. They are a good place for new shoppers to find the answer to the question, “Who shops my area?” Basically, public job boards are the want ads of mystery shopping.

Once you’ve found an assignment listing on one of these job boards that you find interesting, look for the name of the mystery shopping company that actually is offering the assignment. You will then sign up with that company, which has its own job board. You will only have to sign up with an MSC once. From then on, when assignments become available with that company, you will receive email notices.

The host of the job board, however, is not the company you are contracting with for the job. It is important to know this. Job board hosts are not responsible for the assignments in any way and do not interact with the shopper.

FAQ: What is a scheduling company? A scheduling company is actually hired by a mystery shopping company to find shoppers for some or all of the assignments it needs filled. Often the jobs are listed simultaneously on the scheduling company’s board and the MSC’s board at the same time. The scheduling company takes over the responsibilities that a mystery shopping company usually does themselves to recruit shoppers for assignments. It sends out the email notices of open assignments, negotiates bonuses and fees, and chooses among multiple applicants to decide who gets the job.

A scheduling company, however, is not the company you are contracting with for the job. It is important to realize this.

FAQ: What is a mystery shopping company? The mystery shopping company is the business that has the contract with the client to obtain shoppers to do the shops. They tell the MSC what they want the shopper to do, what questions they want answered, and how much they will pay.

The MSC lists the jobs on their own job board, and/or hires a scheduling company, and/or lists these on a publicly hosted job board.

No matter how the shopper gets the job, they are working for the MSC. Their contract is with the MSC. Their confidentiality agreement is with the MSC. Their pay will come from the MSC.

FAQ: Who is the client? This can be hard to determine sometimes. Sometimes the client is the owner of the store the shopper visits to perform the shop. Sometimes it is the franchisor checking to be sure all the franchisees are representing the brand correctly. Sometimes the client is a competitor, checking to see if their competition is doing something better than they are. Sometimes, in the case of retail stores, the client may be a supplier to that store. Consumer watchdog groups may also commission shops, as does the government in some cases.

FAQ: How does it all fit together? The client contracts with a mystery shopping company to assess their business. The mystery shopping company posts open assignments on their own job board and/or sends out email announcements. Optionally, they may also post on a publicly hosted job board and/or use a scheduling company to recruit shoppers via email announcements or also posting on a publicly hosted job board. The shopper finds open opportunities posted on job boards as well as via email announcements. The shopper works only for the mystery shopping company.

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