How to Start Mystery Shopping in the UK

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Being a mum means you know what is needed to run your household efficiently.

With all our knowledge and experience of shopping it seems silly to not get paid to do what we do.

So, why not be a secret shopper and get paid to shop?

Being a mystery shopper is such a fun experience. Have you ever thought, when browsing in the shops or online: I wish someone would listen to me?”

This time your opinions about your retail experience will be heard. And you will get a little extra dosh in your pocket too.

Make shopping a job that pays you! This is a side hustle that suits busy mums, you can do it at a time and place of your choice.

What is a Secret Shopper?

There are loads of businesses that want to know about your shopping experience. By asking the shopper, it helps them to make improvements and it helps the business increase revenue.

Many companies pay you for giving feedback on:

  • What you shop for
  • How you shop
  • How you feel when you shop

This has got to be music to your ears…get rewarded for shopping.

The online market space is competitive. They want your business. Having control of the market is key. Gaining great reviews from their customers can make or break a sale.

That is why businesses use Secret Shopper Agencies. Mystery Shopper Agencies will want to find out:

  • What makes something appealing
  • What makes something a bargain
  • What makes something worth you spending your hard earned cash on

Being a mystery shopper isn’t just about the retail industry, often you’ll be trying out a restaurant, or checking out the credentials of a travel agent, you could even be asked to stay in a hotel and experience a spa treatment.

Earning a little extra will help you balance your family books. Being a mystery shopper can help you do just that.

In the retail and leisure industries making customers feel valued is extremely important.

Things You Need to Know

As a mystery shopper you will need to follow certain guidelines, including the following:

Important points:

  1. You’ll need to be over the age of 18
  2. It’s open to all: mums, dads, grand-parents, students, young adults and not so young adults.
  3. It doesn’t matter if you work full-time, part-time or have no formal paid work.
  4. You will need access to a computer and the internet.
  5. Have a camera smartphone to take photos of receipts etc
  6. Be able to write reports, give verbal feedback and possibly be involved in video calls.

What makes this the perfect job, is that you have all the skills needed to make it happen straight away.

As a mum you already:

  • Have great communication skills.
  • Can read, write and speak English clearly.
  • Can offer your ideas, suggestions and opinions objectively.
  • Know your way round a computer.

The mystery shopping companies will provide you with a brief of what they want you to look for. Don’t worry, you won’t have any tasks sprung on you.

Once you have completed a mystery assignment, then you’ll want to hand in your report straight away, while it is fresh in your mind.

So, if you are reliable, honest, can follow instructions, can make clear observations, have a good memory and can take notes then – this is the gig for you.

What’s Involved In Being a Mystery Shopper?

The task you may do will depend on the agency.

There is a great range of options – it may be an online experience, such as online shopping, online food delivery, online service and may be run through a mystery shopping app.

It may be that you report back on the how easy it was to buy a specific product, your dining out experience or explaining how much you enjoyed a certain service.

You can earn freebies and travel perks too. Imagine being able to take your family on an outing and not have to fork out big time. All you would have to do, is comment on how each family would experience the leisure activity.

Being observant helps, as you maybe asked to comment on a store front, how well the products are arranged and any interaction with staff.

Knowing the price of items is very important, Often the job of a secret shopper is to find out how much businesses sell certain items for.

You will want to spot any offers, such as:

  • 3 for the price of 2. 
  • Buy one get one free. 
  • Buy to get free gift or goodie bag. 

Giving feedback about a product or service may take the form of a survey, multiple-choice questions or as a formal written or verbal report.  

Even better paid positions include being able to film your entire shopping experience. You’ll be equipped with a hidden camera.

The more aware you are aware of your shopping experience the better your feedback to the mystery shopper agency will be.

Photographic evidence is often required.

You may also be asked to communicate with a brand or business over the phone or using social media via online chat or messenger as brands continue to increase their presence in this area.

How much can I earn?

You’ll not be a millionaire overnight. But, as the saying goes… Every little helps.

Earn on average £50 a month, usually paid via BCAS, plus the possibility for cash-back incentives, along with shopping vouchers, free products, meals or special passes to events. The more in-depth the task the more you’ll be rewarded. 

Related: Paid Surveys UK: Make £100 a Month Taking Online Surveys

The agencies will inform you about how to be reimbursed for purchases made by yourself.

Expect between one and five jobs a month, depending upon location and experience.

Just remember, these are self-employed jobs, which means you will need to submit a self-assessment tax return at the end of the financial year.

10 Best Mystery Shopping Companies in the UK

1. Grass Roots

Grass Roots is a great place to sign up if you want to earn extra money by doing the things you enjoy most. It is very flexible and has loads of offers available.

At Grass Roots you might get paid to:

  • Visit your local high street and shop in many of the big brand names.
  • Shop online
  • Eat out or dine in
  • Report on customer service
  • Browse your favourite supermarket
  • Go under cover at your bank
  • Enjoy some amazing leisure activities

2. Retail Maxim

Retail Maxim has a range of opportunities to be a mystery shopper.

Get involved in surveys, video shopping, audits, employee engagement assessments and mail order feedback. Cash payments are made, as well as reimbursements for purchases.

Retail Maxim covers a wide range of areas:

  • Retail
  • Leisure & Hospitality industry
  • Catering
  • NHS
  • Online Business

3. Performance in People

Performance in People is one of the largest Mystery Shopping companies in Britain.

They pride themselves for employing people who care about quality products and great customer service.

Sign up today and get involved in giving feedback about:

  • Car manufactures
  • Pubs and Restaurants
  • Retail
  • Financial Services
  • Public Sector

4. Market Force UK

Market Force UK is an excellent choice because they have a large scope of businesses that you can be involved in.

Get paid to shop, go out for dinner, stay a night in a hotel – there are so many choices.

You will evaluate different brands by:

  • Visiting a venue in person
  • By phone
  • Online
  • Via a call centre
  • Through social media
  • Completing surveys

5. Mystery Dining

Mystery Dining allows you to eat out and not pay for the whole bill.

You’ll be reimbursed for your dining, simply by writing an objective report about your experience.

The places that you will visit will be the sort of places you would normally go to. Which is a win win.

Just some of the restaurants included:

  • Pret
  • Leon
  • Wagamamas
  • Green King
  • Flat Iron

6. Helion Research

Helion Research prides its self on being a community of Mystery Shoppers.

They make it clear how many jobs they have on offer each week and the average job payment.

Use their app to search for a job that suits you. They also have community managers to help you every step of the way.

They offer work with big brands, such as:

  • Mastercard
  • Total
  • Mercedes

7. I Shop For Ipsos

I Shop For Ipsos they want you to be paid to experience the world’s leading brands.

So, be a regular customer and then evaluate and report on the quality of your experience.

You get to visit:

  • Retail stores
  • Restaurants
  • Cafes
  • Service Stations
  • Pharmacies
  • Supermarkets
  • Banks and Building Societies

8. Its Incognito

Its Incognito is about being a Mystery Customer, rather than a mystery shopper.

If you know what good customer service is, efficient call handling and quality sales is – then this assignment is for you.

They are the leading provider of mystery customer programs for the hospitality industry, including:

  • Hotels
  • Conferences
  • Restaurants
  • Leisure Clubs
  • Spas
  • Tourist Attractions

They also cover:

  • Government Agencies
  • Heritage Sites
  • Business Centres

9. GBW Solutions

GBW Solutions has delivered customer experience measurements across every major sector.

Join this company and start reporting on these different industries:

  • Convenience & Grocery Stores
  • High End & Fashion Retail
  • Online stores
  • Casual and Fine Dining
  • Automotive
  • Fuel and Service Stations
  • Health and Beauty
  • Electronic & Appliance
  • DIY Stores

10. Bare International

Bare International offer positions as evaluators, they believe you become a valuable part in changing the way businesses are run.

You can have an impact on how businesses provide customer service, uphold ethical standards and apply stringent standards.

At Bare International they:

Assign specific projects to evaluators
Provide details of a particular client’s goals
Give clear objectives
Highlight any special customer requirements


About Emma Healey

Emma is a recognised family finance and budgeting expert and founder of Mum's Money. Her advice has been featured in Readers Digest, Yahoo Finance, Lifehacker, The Simple Dollar, MSN Money and more.

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