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5 Shopping Strategies for New Mystery Shoppers


It seems everyone wants to do mystery shopping these days, but before you do so, you need to map out some shopping strategies. Based on the ads you see, who wouldn't want to be a secret shopper? Have fun shopping and earn thousands! Eat out for free! Make money shopping! Sign me up, right?

Well, you will soon learn that mystery shopping is a bit more complex than the stereotype may suggest. Here are some shopping strategies to help you get off to a great start in mystery shopping.


The best advice for new mystery shoppers can be found at

Simply searching for "mystery shopping" online can lead to many scam sites. Volition's site is the "Bible" for mystery shoppers because it contains a huge list of mystery shopping companies for you to sign up with. It also hosts an extremely helpful mystery shopping forum. Before you ever complete your first shop, you would be well-advised to spend a few days just reading the forum. You will learn many helpful specifics: which companies are good for beginners, which companies you should steer clear of, and more.

2. Apply, Apply

It's not glamorous, but it's necessary: to get mystery shopping jobs, you need to apply with many mystery shopping companies. It would be nice if there were just 1 or 2 companies out there, but the reality is that there are hundreds. You may want to apply to 5 a day, or perhaps spend 30 minutes daily applying to new companies. Continue to apply even after you get your first jobs, because often a business will switch the mystery shopping company it is using. You will want to be signed up with the new company so that you can continue mystery shopping for the business.

A related tip here is to type up a sample of your "best shopping experience" and your "worst shopping experience" in Word and save these. Many mystery shopping company applications will ask for these, and if you have them ready to go, you will save a lot of time in applying. Don't worry about specifics on these; they are really a test of your writing and observational abilities.

3. Just Ask

Is there a business you'd like to shop for, but you don't know which mystery shopping company they use? You have a couple of options here. First, you could try searching online for "mystery shopping" and the business' name. If that doesn't turn up anything, try emailing the business and asking which mystery shopping company they use. Often, they are happy to share that information.

Sometimes a business will run its own mystery shopping program without using an outside company. In this case, you can ask about being added to their list of shoppers.

4. Be Thorough

Once you're at your mystery shopping job, it is vital to get the information you need accurately and unobtrusively. Make up a list of "must have" items you will need to observe - names, number of other customers, time to receive order, etc. You can glance at this list while in the store, but don't try to write your notes down there; you don't want to give yourself away as a shopper. Try going into the bathroom to jot down some things, or keep them in your head until you can get back to your vehicle. Don't wait until you get home to write down your notes - accuracy is very important for a mystery shopper.

5. Make It a Route

Once you begin getting jobs, a good strategy is to plan a day of shops, or at least a route. Try not to drive out to do one $7 shop; it's much smarter financially to schedule a $10 shop, and lunch shop, and a $7 shop on the way home. This way, you will maximize your profits and your time spent.

Get started, and soon you'll be coming up with more strategies on your own.


Susan Braun is a freelance writer living with her husband, three daughters, 2 rabbits, 2 gerbils and hedgehog in Indiana.  She writes at and Associated Content.

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