If you love to shop, you may want to become a mystery shopper and earn a little extra cash. A mystery shopper is a person who is hired by a market research company to evaluate and report specific information about the quality of goods or services provided by the business in which they are “shopping”. These places may include, but are not limited to:

  • Retail stores
  • Fast food chains
  • Car dealerships
  • Health clubs
  • Banks
  • Gas stations
  • Movie theaters
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants

As a mystery shopper, you may be asked to order a combo at a fast food chain drive thru, and then take the temperature of the food, weigh the portion, or use a stopwatch to see how long it took to receive your order. A mystery shopper at a department store may be asked to inquire about a special size, or to return an item.

Not all mystery shopping involves making a purchase. When a purchase is required, you will usually be reimbursed by the company, along with compensation.

While gathering information, mystery shoppers blend in with the store’s regular customers. After the mystery shopper visits the store and gathers her data, she is required to submit the information to the market research company that hired her.

They will then review the information, analyze the data, and compile a report for the client company. The company will then use this data to compare the store’s service or products against a previously set standard.


Retailers normally hire a market research company to evaluate services or products offered in their stores. A research company, or a merchandising company, will then hire a person who wants to become a mystery shopper. Opportunities to become a mystery shopper can be found on line or in the classified section of your newspaper.

Getting Started

No start up costs are required to become a mystery shopper. However, some states require that a person who wants to become a mystery shopper must be licensed as a private investigator in order to perform some of the required tasks. Know the laws.

Certain assignments will require that a mystery shopper take measurement or photographs. A timer or a stopwatch may also be required for assignments. Chances are good that you already own everything you will need to become a mystery shopper.

Pros: No startup costs involved and earn while you go for shopping.

Cons- Part time work and possibility of scams.

Susan Ranford

My name is Susan Ranford. I am an expert on job market trends, hiring, and business management. I often write about issues related to employment and business.