Understand The Pros and Cons of Mystery Shopping

Brick-and-mortar retailers have faced significant challenges in recent years due to the rise of online shopping. To survive in this evolving landscape, retailers must invest in assets that can fuel their business growth. One such investment opportunity is mystery shopping. In this article, we will explore the advantages and disadvantages of employing mystery shoppers.

Mystery shopping involves hiring individuals to act as potential customers and assess their experience with a business. This practice has its roots in research models from the 1940s, used to study behavioral patterns and operational efficiency. Today, mystery shopping is widely employed across various industries, including both location-based and online businesses.

The process of mystery shopping begins with a retailer engaging a legitimate market research company to provide a mystery shopper. This shopper then visits the retail location, thoroughly assesses the premises, and collects data that can later be used for evaluation and trend analysis.

Let’s examine the pros and cons of mystery shopping:

Advantages of Mystery Shopping:

  1. Assess Implementation of Brand Standards: Mystery shopping services allow retailers to evaluate how effectively their employees adhere to established business procedures. Consistency in implementing these standards is crucial for meeting consumer expectations, fostering brand loyalty, and streamlining operations. By investing in mystery shopping, retailers can ensure their employees consistently perform according to the desired standards.
  2. Best Customer Feedback: Unlike feedback provided by a regular customer who spends a few minutes in a shop, mystery shoppers provide more comprehensive and accurate feedback. They can focus entirely on the shopping experience, making conscious observations and detailed notes. This enables retailers to gain valuable insights for improving customer satisfaction and identifying areas of improvement.
  3. Monitor Competitors: Secret shopping individuals can be deployed not only to a retailer’s own location but also to competitors’ stores. This provides valuable insight into how competitors operate, allowing retailers to make informed decisions and implement strategies to enhance their own business. Through mystery shopping, retailers can gather information about competitors’ products, pricing, wait times for customer service and checkout, business hours, and more.

Disadvantages of Mystery Shopping:

  1. Insufficient Data: The data gathered by mystery shoppers depend on the checklist or criteria provided to them by their employers. This checklist may not capture all the customer data points desired by the retailer, leading to incomplete information. Additionally, a mystery shopper may not gather enough data to provide a clear picture of the issues or suggest effective resolutions.
  2. Potentially Biased Data: Despite careful checklist design and experience, mystery shoppers are human beings who can be influenced by their personal circumstances. Factors like stress or mood can affect their perception of the shopping experience. For example, a shopper who is stressed about their personal life might perceive the checkout process as longer and more tedious than it actually is. This potential bias can limit the accuracy of the data collected.
  3. Workforce Anxiety: The concept of mystery shopping, where employees are unaware of being observed, can create discomfort and anxiety in the workforce. Employees may constantly feel under scrutiny, impacting their performance and job satisfaction. It is important for retailers to address these concerns and communicate the purpose and benefits of mystery shopping to their employees.


When it comes to mystery shopping it can be a pretty great tool for research. However, the efficacy of mystery shopping depends on the chosen company and the careful consideration of its advantages and disadvantages. By leveraging the benefits and mitigating the drawbacks, retailers can make informed decisions to improve their overall performance and customer satisfaction. More on this topic can be found at isaimini blog.

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