Mystery Shopping

What is a mystery shopper, few entrepreneurs still ask themselves. More and more often, mystery shoppers are used to test the quality of employees' work.

What is a Mystery Shopper

Mystery Shopping, also known as Secret Shopping or Test Buying, is used by organizations and companies to evaluate the performance of employees. By using a Mystery Shopper, it can be determined that the desired regulations and behaviour at the workplace are being observed. In addition, information is collected that helps to improve the quality of products and services and to identify potential for improvement in order to gain a competitive advantage.

How does mystery shopping work?

In mystery shopping, a company usually hires a mystery shopper who enters its own store or that of a competitor as a customer in order to evaluate a product and/or service offering. Behind a good test purchase there are specific goals for information gathering.

For example, if the general customer experience of a restaurant is to be evaluated, the Mystery Shopper would simply visit the restaurant, order a meal and evaluate the overall experience. The Mystery Shopper is usually asked to evaluate the restaurant's appearance, waiters, food and punctuality.

However, when evaluating the processing of returns for a retailer, the mystery shopper is given a specific scenario.

For example:

  1. Buying a specific item

  2. Leaving the store

  3. Returning to another retailer

  4. Providing a specific explanation to the waitress about the mistaken purchase. The mystery shopper is then asked a series of questions that evaluate the overall experience.

Whether the Mystery Shopper is a general or specific Mystery Shopper, a checklist usually helps Mystery Shoppers to ensure consistency of measurement results.

Why is mystery shopping important: Advantages and Disadvantages

It is important in test purchases to weigh up the pros and cons, especially for your own company.


Receive customer feedback

Gain insight into the perspective of your customers through a Mystery Shopper: What is the ambience, the type of service customers receive, the general cleanliness of the place, how do the employees present themselves - these are just some of the valuable information collected by a Mystery Shopper posing as a customer.

Insufficient data

A mystery shopper can be stopped from gathering valuable information (e.g. while eating in a restaurant). This makes it all the more important to have a reliable checklist on which the Mystery Shopper can rely and which describes exactly what is to be observed or observed.

Reinforce and review guidelines

It checks whether newly introduced guidelines are followed by different branches or departments and whether they are effective on a broad front.


Personal prejudices

Mystery shopping is subjective. The results can be influenced by the Mystery Shopper's prejudices and by the circumstances of the day.


Check your competitors

Comparing the services and products offered by the competition with what you offer gives you an insight into the areas in which you can improve - giving you an edge over your competitors.


Disgruntled employees

All the secrecy surrounding Mystery Shopping can be unpleasant for employees and cause anxiety. Employees' discomfort can affect the way they interact with customers, especially if they assume that a mystery shopper is visiting them.


4 Tips for setting up Mystery Shopping Processes

Weigh exactly the costs and benefits of a test purchase for your company. Once you've decided to do so, use the tips to set up a mystery shopping audit or self-assessment for your company.

Tip 1: Know your goals. What do you want to achieve?

Do you want to check how your products and services are developing in comparison to the products and services of your competitors? Do you want to know whether your employees comply with the new guidelines? Are you keeping the test purchase secret or are you telling employees that they must expect a mystery shopper at all times?

Tip 2: Know the costs. How much do you want to spend?

Will it be cheaper if an internal market research team does the mystery shopping, or is it better if an external service provider is hired for mystery shopping?

Tip 3: Prepare questions and tasks. What should be considered? Which questions should be asked?

Formulate a list of tasks and questions that a Mystery Shopper should complete. Work closely with your market research department or external partner.

Tip 4: Use an app instead of paper


A mobile device is more discreet (and practical) for a mystery shopper than a sheet of paper. The mystery shopper can use a mobile app like Lumiform to fill out the prepared form or checklist. Reports can be generated and set up immediately after the tet-shopping is complete.

Mystery Shopping is a way to get a better idea of how your products and services work compared to those of your competitors. It helps you to identify potential for improvement and to track how employees perform their tasks in the workplace. If done correctly, Mystery Shopping helps to improve your company's reputation and give you an advantage over your competitors.

Let mystery shoppers do their secret shopping conveniently with Lumiform, the powerful mobile inspection app, and collect all the information you need. Visit our mystery shopping checklist page to start with some general mystery shopping checklists you can use for your business. Whether it's a hotel, restaurant, café or retail business, we have something for every area.

Featured templates

Retail Mystery Shopper Checklist

Retail Mystery Shopper Checklist

Use this mystery shopping questionnaire to check retail employees for compliance with company standards. See template

Hotel Mystery Shopper Checklist

Hotel Mystery Shopper Checklist

This comprehensive mystery checklist for hotels consists of 8 parts and serves as a guide for the complete inspection of a hotel. See template

General Mystery Shopper Checklist

General Mystery Shopper Checklist

This general mystery shopping questionnaire is used to assess customer service. See template