A Journey Through a Basic Mystery Shopping Visit

Mystery Shopping Visit

We have written a lot about Mystery Shopping. Well we are a company that specializes in Mystery Shopping Market Research. I would recommend that everyone experience what it’s like being a Mystery Shopper. Especially if you’re with a company that conducts Mystery Visits to their branches regularly. It would give an insight into the basics of Mystery Shopping and why they are structured the way they are.

Here, I would like to take you through a basic visit and how a shopper would typically go through the journey.

Assuming that as a shopper you have already signed up with a Mystery Shopping provider. Depending on the company shoppers may receive their assignments differently.

The Assignment

As a Mystery Shopping, you will receive the Assignments to perform these shops. Often times, a shopper will apply to conduct a Mystery Visit through a website or platform. Our specialists will match your location with the locations of the visits. Sometimes, our specialist will match your preferred location even when you are traveling.

We have Mystery Shopping Programs in many industries, however, for the sake of this example let’s take a look at a fashion retail visit.

Upon receiving the Assignment, the shopper can choose to accept or decline it (unlike Ethan Hunt). Most assignments will be assigned with a specific date for the visit. Once you have accepted assignment, you will receive the Training Manual.

The Brief

The next step is for the shopper to be briefed on what the assignment entails. Each Mystery Shopping Program has different objectives and different requirements. For examples, some visits will require a purchase, some do not. So, it is very important to be briefed about the visit and what needs to be done.

Shoppers are given a Training Manual which is a document that will detail all the information needed. What to look out for, what is needed for the proof of visit, what kind of questions to ask, etc.

Depending on the project, our specialist would have a call briefing with the shoppers as well. This is to make sure the shopper understands the visit thoroughly. Especially for visits with complex requirements.

The Visit

Now comes time for the shopper to conduct the visit on the agreed scheduled date. Although, all mystery visit programs are different, the basics are the same. Once the shopper has arrived at the store, the shopper will browse around and wait for the staff to welcome them:

The Welcome & Approach

At this stage, the shopper will need to take note on how long it took for the staff to welcome them. Following that, how long did it take for the staff to approach and offer assistance, or if the staff offered assistance at all.

A good welcome and quick approach will let the customer know that the staff is aware of their presence and are available to assist.

Shoppers also need to report on how the staff welcomes them if the store is busy. However, the shopper needs to remain passive for a good period of time and if the staff does not offer assistance, then the shopper can approach the staff and ask for assistance.

Customer Needs and Discovery

Once approached, the staff is required to find out what the shopper is looking for. Shoppers need to already have a scenario in mind so they can provide the staff with details of what they are looking for.

Most of the time the staff will ask the shopper open and closed ended questions. Some examples are: Are you looking for anything specific? For what occasion is the item for?

Knowing the customer’s need and requirements will allow staff to give accurate recommendations. The staff will also be able to know what to up/cross sell. Of course, the staff will discover more about the customer and what they are looking for throughout the visit.


Fitting Room

Any fashion retail mystery visit would involve trying the clothes on in the fitting room. Not for the clothes themselves, however, to see how the staff attends to the customer at this stage. Is the staff available to attend to the customer or did the staff leave the customer to their own devices?

Up/Cross Selling

The fitting room stage is the perfect time to up/cross sell items. Of course, it also adds to the staff’s advantage if the staff had discovered the shopper’s need and wants thoroughly and know exactly what the customer is looking for.

Handling Objections

At some time during the visit, the shopper would be required to raise an objection. For example, the shopper can raise an objection about the size or material of the item. Again, this part of the visit will allow us to know how the staff reacts to the customer’s objection. Does the staff remain friendly and was the staff able to offer a solution?


At the end of the visit the shopper will evaluate how the staff tries to close them. If it’s a non-purchase scenario, how will the staff reach to the customer’s decline to make the purchase. Does the staff thank the customer for the visit or offer to place the item on hold?

After the Mystery Visit

Once the visit is completed, the shopper is required to report their findings by summiting the related survey. The surveys would be structured in multiple sections with questions that have multiple choice answers. Some parts of the surveys will have open comments for the shopper to write their opinions and to explain what had happen during the visit.

The reason most questions are multiple choice is because we want the data reported to be as objective as possible. Hence, the questions are structured in a way that will allow this. With the data reported in such a manner, we will be able to analyze the answers and compared them to each other.

Once submitted, the surveys will be checked by the Quality Check team. The team, will follow up with the shoppers should there be any missing information.

End of a journey

That bring us to the end of a typical mystery shopping journey. There are many instances when things don’t always go as plan or a visit gets rejected. These are inevitable and will happen. For the most part, Mystery Visits are rather straight forward, as long as the shopper listens and understand the brief, and ask the specialist if they have any questions.

Have you ever performed a Mystery Visit? Register as a Mystery Shopper today if you haven’t done so.