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What is a Retail Mystery Shop?

we answer the very simple question what's a retail shop and here's an email that I got dear wafak do your work at home FAQ 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 do you send it back to the company good questions now last week we talked about whether or not you actually have to buy something when you're doing mystery shopping this week we're just gonna focus specifically on retail shops now retail shops they vary depending on the company depending on the client depending on what they're looking for that month it all just depends so just keep in mind your mileage may vary now generally you're not gonna receive money for any purchases before you head out and do the assignment it used to be that they would send out gift certificates but then the shoppers would take the gift certificates and not really complete the assignment so now if you have to pay money for any type of assignment especially a retail shop that'll be reimbursed to you later reimburse to you later yeah and keep in mind some mystery shopping companies have a really long pay period they may not pay you for another 30 or 60 days so just keep that in mind in terms of your own cash flow if you're spending like 100 or 200 dollars you're not gonna get that back for a little bit so keep that in mind now if a purchase is required they may have something specific for you to buy they may tell you okay go into this pet store and buy this specific product for the specific pet or they may have you go into a grocery store and say hey I want you to buy these canna beans you know they'll tell you exactly what they want you to buy if a purchase is required other times they may say you know what just go spend some money we don't really care just let us know what you bought send us a receipt but you know there's no specifications you don't have to get something actually specific it all just depends now if a purchase is required you may have to return the merchandise as part of the assignment we call this a PNR shop a purchase and return assignment so for example you'd go into like a shoe store and you'd buy some shoes and then you'd leave maybe for a couple hours maybe go do some other mystery shops and then you come back either later that day or the next day and you return the merchandise and then you return you evaluate the return procedure you know how long did it take did they ask you specific information when you're trying to do the return that type of thing so again it all just kind of depends now your compensation will either be pure compensation for the merchandise that you bought so they may say ok we'll reimburse you up to $50.00 go have fun and that's all that they're gonna pay you back for just $50 that's it up to $50 so if you spend more than that that's not going to be reimbursable only up to a certain amount or they'll do a partial compensation for what you buy and a partial compensation for actually doing the shop for filling out the form so with that they may say ok you're shopping allowance is $15 go have fun spend up to $15 or we'll reimburse you up to that amount and we'll give you another 10 or 15 for filling out the form ok that's another way that they'll they'll pay you for the shop or there's no compensation whatsoever for the merchandise in which case the merchandise may not be required you may not have to buy it because they're not reimbursing you for it and they'll just give you a flat fee for your time in which case if they're only paying you a flat fee for your time and they're not reimbursing you and you for any merchandise and if you have to buy it I'd say just return it later a couple days later you know not right away because you don't want to tip yourself off that you're a shopper but if they're not paying you for the merchandise they're only paying you a flat fee and you have to buy something that you don't want or return it later I've done that before okay now generally keep in mind you won't be sending the merchandise back to the mystery shopping companies now there are things that are called product intercepts that's different than a read shop that's where you get products you kind of evaluate them and then you send them to the company but that's different that's an intercept now of course if you do have to mail something back rarely but if you do your postage would then either be reimbursable or tax-deductible now if like I mentioned before if a purchase is required but not the return you can always return the merchandise on your own time and get your money back for the shop that way too of course if you're buying stuff like candy gum whatever at a gas station probably doesn't matter as much but if you're spending 20 30 40 bucks you probably want that money back if it's not something you actually need now what they're looking for on retail assignments you're gonna go in and you're gonna evaluate everything a lot of times you're evaluating the parking lots making sure they're nice and clean the entranceways make sure they're not overflowing with trash anything like that you look at the sales racks the lighting the music make sure it isn't too loud make sure it's appropriate music you check out the washrooms changing rooms if there are any generally you do have to interact with an employee they want to see how the interaction is how long it takes for someone to greet you and you know sometimes in the those big-box stores you're like walking around like does anyone work here anyone um so it may take Ohio so they're looking for some kind of interaction with an employee usually you ask them for a question or a suggestion whether or not they take you to the aisle where the product is or if they have suggestions for you if you're looking for a gift or something like that um also timing timing is important how long it takes for someone to greet you how long it takes for you to get through the checkout line how many checkout lines are open how many people are in each checkout line like is there only one line with 20 people or are there four lines with about three to four people each it all just kind of depends and again they may or may not be evaluating the return procedure as well so that's what they're looking for in a retail shop now they use this information oh wait first let me say what they're not looking for they're not looking for you to be a PITA that is a pain in the arse okay you're not go in there and just be obnoxious and try and trick people and you know that's not what you're there for you're there to tell them what they're doing right and how they can improve okay so you don't get to be a PITA not allowed now what they're going to do with this information they're gonna evaluate their sales programs so for example in a store if they have this huge sale on dining room furniture they want to make sure that the sales associate is hitting all the bullet points that the company wants them to hit when they're interacting with an employee sorry when they're interacting with a customer so you as the mystery shopper are gonna go in and see okay did they did they mention this to me and this to me and you know our warranty and I don't know the refund or the zero interest loans that we have you know they're gonna see if the employee hits all of those points and that's your job to make sure that they do they may decide to reconfigure merchandise arrangements if they have you go into a large store and you're looking for specific items they're gonna see how much of a scavenger hunt it is like how long does it take for you to find this one in this one in this one and you know how do these sales racks look and what is the overall appearance so they may reconfigure the merchandise just based on your own opinion and experience or they could use this information to train employees to help them get better at their own sales techniques or even give them bonuses if they hit all of the check marks that they were supposed to hit they may get a little bonus at the end of the month because they did it right so that's kind of the overall view on retail shops of course if you want more information on mystery shopping working from home and avoiding scams come on over to a work at home  if you have any questions feel free to submit it to me there so I can answer them for you I do have books available the mystery shopper training program and the work at home training program if the expense is too much for you right now of course you can always get those at the library see if they can order them for you otherwise they're on Amazon and in bookstores nationwide they're on Kindle if I'm teaching any in-person classes at the moment they'll be on my events page of course I have online classes and a ton the free information out on my website social media and newsletter and you can find links to all of this at work at home FAQ calm a / learn again my name is Bethany find me at work at home FAQ calm I'm on the Twitter the YouTube the Facebook the LinkedIn the Instagram the Pinterest and whatever will come next thanks for stopping by we'll see you next time I don't know I kinda have the 80s hair goin on sh o PP ing for shopping