Mystery Shopping: How Does It Benefit The Consumer?

As a consumer, have you ever wanted on occasion to walk away from an establishment for poor service or products? For example, if the apples look unappetizing at the grocery store or if the clothes boutique clerk refuses to help you, you may leave. The company may notice the loss in their profits along with customer complaints and will hopefully take action. Companies use mystery shoppers to do something that some consider sneaky: anonymously observe the store and report back findings to its owners and management. This practice was started in the 1930s and has gained in popularity due to its effectiveness in the 1980s. While this undoubtedly helps the company manage its people and products, how does it benefit consumers?

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1. First, it informs companies about the performance of their employees. Employers use the reports to change poor employee behavior.

2. Mystery shoppers take a critical look at the physical store and grade it, and that informs retailers of places to change the appearance and remove things or even address issues with cleanliness that may be impeding consumers from a happy shopping experience.

3. Mystery shoppers also perceive problems in business practices and suggest obvious solutions that management may miss, so the consumer in effect has an advocate if they notice the same problem when they visit. Some problems have simple solutions.

4. A mystery shopper can tell the company what a service does or doesn’t do, whether it lives up to the hype and gives useful information about the service offered. Aside from monitoring people, mystery shoppers can also testify to the worthiness of a company’s offerings.

Shoppers Commit Details to Memory
Mystery shoppers carry along a mental checklist when they go on an assignment. They immediately count the employees on the floor, and they mark the seconds or even minutes before an employee greets them. They commit to memory the name of every employee working and note whether they have appealing attitudes or their dress seems appropriate. They query employees about products with canned questions and check the responses closely. They judge the products shown and how persuasive employees are at selling it. They know beforehand what the company expects from employees in up-selling and closing sales, and they take mental notes. When they leave, mystery shoppers closely watch to see if employees invite them back.

Mystery Shoppers Point Out Poor Service

This clearly benefits consumers. Mystery shoppers, as a rule, do not work for the consumer, but for the company providing the service or product. Companies use mystery shoppers’ reports to correct employee’s behavior and comply with policies and best sales practices. If you’ve ever been amazed at a clerk’s horrible service, don’t worry too much, if the company uses mystery shopping regularly, management will be made aware.

This can result in retraining and in some cases, termination. Jobs that demand little skill and low pay don’t give employers much room to retrain. A newly hired employee may correct the issue with a bit more training, on the other hand.

For consumers, the benefit of the mystery shopper is better service and shopping experience. The company is able to identify “blind spots” and correct these issues and in some cases, turn a problem location into a place where a customer would want to shop regularly.


This guest post contribution is courtesy of Sentry Marketing Group. SMG coordinates mystery shopping for restaurants, hotels, retail and Competitive Analysis in Dallas as well as many other cities in the U.S.



About Heather Jones

I'm a coffee addict wife, "work at home mom", mother to two boys, blogging about the latest life hacks, recipes, DIY Projects and crazy "momisodes". I've recently moved domains, I used to blog at, but our new home is right here on

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I'm a coffee addict wife, "work at home mom", mother to two boys, blogging about the latest life hacks, recipes, DIY Projects and crazy "momisodes". I've recently moved domains, I used to blog at, but our new home is right here on

34 thoughts on “Mystery Shopping: How Does It Benefit The Consumer?

  1. I think mystery shopping is awesome! I personally have not tried it but know a few friends that have. Its a great way for the store/company to fix their problem areas for a better customer service experience.

  2. I considered doing that at one point, but then changed my mind. It’s the paperwork that would get to me, but I’m glad there are people that do it and keep stores on their toes.

  3. For me, their opinion doesn’t matter. I want to judge a place based on my own experiences,

  4. I think mystery shoppers are so important, and I wish more companies would hire them to check out their staff and their products\service.

  5. I did a little mystery shopping back in the day! It was fun but I thought paid pretty poorly for the time spent. Maybe it depends on the company you work for. I should look into it again….

  6. I used to want to do this, but I served tables a few years back and know some good servers that were dinged and shouldn’t have been. I don’t think that the rate of a company or service should be based on one view point. People are more likely to complain then say positive. I think if anyone truly likes a company or employee take your time to stop someone in charge and let them know. It really can make an employees day!

    1. Oh wow, I agree, to ding a company based on one server is not very logical or helpful. I think it would need several evaluations to make a generalized statement when you are talking about the service industry. Great point!

  7. My friend was a mystery shopper for a while. I think it’s a great way for companies to get an idea what the customer sees in their stores.

  8. That’s interesting , mystery shopper are really helpful to the company, great ways to get an idea to the customers

  9. I did some mystery shopping for extra cash in my twenties. It is really a very specific task, you have so much you have to report.

  10. While not quite the same as a mystery shopper, I am a brand ambassador for a local chain of restaurants around here and often report back to the people in charge some things that I notice. It really does help the company.

  11. I think that Mystery shopping helps the consumer in the end. If employees are doing their job, mystery shopping can easily expose it or give a business something to improve upon.

    I know the service industry relies heavily on the feedback that they get from mystery shops.

What do you think?