What is a Retail Mystery Shop?

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What is a retail shop?  Do you have to buy something?  Do you have to spend your money, or will they give you some?  Are you supposed to keep the merchandise or send it to the company?

Retail shops vary by company and assignment.  Here are the main points you need to know:

1)   You generally will NOT receive money from the mystery shopping company to buy anything.  You’ll have to use your own if a purchase is required.

2)   If a purchase is required, they may have something specific for you to buy.

3)   If a purchase is required, you may have to return the merchandise as part of the assignment, and evaluate the return procedure. This is called a “P&R” shop, or “Purchase and Return.”

4)   Your fee will either be:

  • pure compensation for the merchandise you bought
  • partial compensation for the merchandise and part fee for your time
  • no compensation for the merchandise (maybe no purchase is required) and just a fee for your time

5)   You generally won’t need to send the merchandise back to the Mystery Shopping company. If you do, your postage will be reimbursed.

6)   If a purchase is required, but not a return, you can return the merchandise on your own and get a refund.  It’s probably not necessary for little things like gum or candy, but understandable for sweaters and more expensive items.

Retail shops are pretty basic: You go into a store, you wait to get help, you may or may not buy something, you may or may not return something, you may evaluate the sales racks or washrooms and then you go home and write up the form.

Hope this helps!  Good luck, and Happy Shopping!


Think about all the extra money you could make by being a mystery shopper, starting your own business, or working from home for a legitimate company. Take control of your income and check out our LEARN page for a list of classes, books, and more!

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