Mystery Shopping Gains Momentum in the Digital Age

March 6, 2013: Jim Larranaga, Executive Vice President

Mystery shopping is a form of market research used by a variety of businesses such as hotels, retail stores, financial institutions and hospitals. Mystery shoppers collect details about their experience as a consumer and report back to the marketing team that hired them. Shoppers usually complete survey forms after their in-store experience, but today’s technology makes it even easier to capture video of a consumer’s experience. The industry even got a boost in media coverage during the recession from people seeking ways to generate additional income. Check out this news story about a woman making extra money as a secret shopper.

One of the advantages of using mystery shoppers is the ability to gather qualitative and quantitative data about the user experience. Questions such as, “Were you greeted when you arrived?” or “Was the store clean?” give marketers insights into areas where their brand standards might be slipping.

Crowd-Sourcing Shopper Data

A new mobile App from Mobee (available on the iPhone now and soon on Android) blends crowd-sourcing with mystery shopping by paying consumers to give feedback on stores, directly from their phones. The Mobee App asks consumers a series of questions and shoppers can even take photos of their experience and send them directly to the marketer.

Mobee provides nearly real-time qualitative and quantitative information gathered from hundreds of user experiences. And unlike services such as Yelp!, mystery shoppers send their data directly to the marketer, not out to the Web.

Where to Find a Mystery Shopping Provider

If you’re searching for a mystery shopping service provider, start with any of the trade associations that support your industry. Sometimes your association has worked out special pricing. You can also contact the Mystery Shopping Providers Association or attend their 2013 MSPA-NA Annual Conference September 24 – 26 in San Antonio.

Bluespire has provided strategy on mystery shopper projects and can assist with developing content and messaging as a follow-up to any research.
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  • March 17, 2013 | Mark
    Hi Mike, is a good reliable mystery shopping company and especially good for mobile mystery shopping.
  • March 14, 2013 | Mike
    I've found some good resources for mystery shopping through here:
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