How to design a mystery shopping program that pays for itself?

To achieve success, ‘Plan to Perform’ is very important to design any Program especially Mystery Shopping Program for an organization. The companies have to plan appropriate and good Mystery Shopping programs before they are launched.

Such successful programs become profitable for themselves for the companies to be in business. Hence, a successful Mystery Shopping program in which the ROI level reaches a high level due to effective strategies or excellent Management tools brings success and profit to any business.

Let us see how this success and profit can be achieved.


What is the main purpose to implement Mystery shopping services? This has to be determined by the brand first before chalking out any plan. For this, understanding the market is important. The brand’s current position in the market, their goals, and their competitors in the market. Once these aspects are determined, a clear goal-oriented Mystery shopping program can be sketched as per the brand’s requirements.

2.Understanding the customer:

Any Mystery Shopping program’s success is based on the brand’s customer experience. The brand’s customers need to be understood and analyzed properly. The way the brand deals with their customers, what are their current setbacks, and the exact requirements of the customers should be understood. Also, the program should not only increase customer satisfaction but as well as the number of customers for the brand.

3.Define Internal Mystery Shopping tactics:

Any Mystery Shopping program should choose an appropriate internal methodology to implement the program. For example, They can use in-store visits, online shoppers, or even phone calls. The choice should be based on the day-to-day running of the brand’s business. Some brands might have just one store but have a huge virtual business online. Here, using online Mystery Shoppers to check their efficiency is correct than sending in-store Shoppers.
marketing research

4.Create an effective survey tool:

To implement a Mystery Shopping program, we need to create an effective survey tool. We have to sit with the brand to understand how exactly the brand wants the Mystery Shoppers to observe. A proper questionnaire has to be designed with an appropriate number of questions that a Mystery Shopper can practically handle and which would provide all the data that the brand wants. Along with this, a video or audio recording of the audit can be introduced, and also important photos can be taken by the Mystery Shoppers. A well-designed questionnaire with correct scores set for each question would give a good analysis of the customer experience of the brand’s store/business.

5.Efficient Mystery Shoppers:

A correct analysis of the brand’s business and creating a good Mystery Shopping program are not sufficient to get perfect results. One very important part is hiring good Mystery Shoppers and providing appropriate training to them to bring in good results. The Mystery Shoppers have to be made to understand what exactly the brand wants them to find out during their audits. For this, a proper briefing needs to be given to the Mystery Shoppers about the brand’s business. Few online Certification tests can be given to them to ensure that they have studied the materials well and would remember the key points while carrying out their audits. It is advisable to send experienced Shoppers for an audit of premium brands so that the results are satisfying.

6.Cost-Effective Programs:

A brand would see how cost-effective the Mystery Shopping programs are apart from their requirements in their business. So, a Mystery Shopping program should be both qualitative and cost-effective. This only would be profitable for both, the brand and the Mystery Shopping company. The demographic locations to be visited by Mystery Shoppers, the Shoppers’ fees, any purchase visits to be made, etc., are to be calculated correctly to ensure that the brand is benefitted from the results. It should not end up being a huge costly Program for the brand.

7.Competitor Analysis:

After planning; executing a good Mystery Shopping program with efficient Mystery Shoppers does not end the whole research program. It is equally important to understand and view the brand’s competitors too. Audits to competitor stores/outlets can be included in the Mystery Shopping Program. This would give the brand a good picture of their competitors in the market which would be useful to design effective marketing strategies to better them.

“A good Mystery Shopping program with effective cost would be a profit by itself for the brand.”


Sanjeev Shenoy

Managing Director, HS Brands Asia

Sanjeev Shenoy has 15+ years’ experience in mystery shopping and customer experience and has helped several global brands design and manage programs across Asia. As a post-graduate in Management, he has worked in Marketing & Operations across retail and food and beverage. As a believer in the beginners’ mindset, Sanjeev seeks to bring in innovation in the mystery shopping industry through technology and best practices from other industries.

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