Mystery Shopping Explained + the companies doing it

Mystery Shopping Explained + the companies doing it

We’ve all heard of this mysterious job where you get paid to go shopping. It sounds like a dream job but here are the actual details:


WARNING 2: There are numerous websites with ‘product’ ‘testing’ in their URLs or sites promising to give your iPhones etc to test for free. Avoid them, it’s borderline a scam & they sell your details to anyone & everyone!section-3

Back to Mystery Shopping, there is a little bit more to it that just going shopping and getting paid, here are the sort of things you will often get asked to do:

  • Ask certain questions (e.g. technical details on a product)
  • Look for certain banners, posters or display information
  • Buy an age limited product and see if they check your age
  • See if a certain location stocks a certain product
  • List the exact steps a member of staff did when discussing your order/refund etc.

How will I get paid?

Either one or multiples of the following:

  • Paid for your fuel / travel costs & get to keep the products you buy
  • Get paid a fixed amount for a confirmed visit i.e. after they confirm the details you provide (e.g. photos)
  • Free things e.g. food, consumer products, hotel nights, clothing etc
  • Points for a visit which can later be claimed for money / vouchers


  • Work around existing work or family commitments
  • No experience or excessive training needed
  • Often you can do it whilst you’re with family or friends
  • Often can take less than 30 mins per assignment
  • You pick and choose the jobs you want to do
  • The market for this sort of research is growing (aka more jobs coming)


  • Work isn’t guaranteed, you may not get picked for any jobs in a week/month
  • If you’ve got to travel to a location it can be a rather low £/hr rate
  • You may have to write extensive notes/reports, often within 24 hours of the experience. Having a decent level of English will be needed.
  • When first starting out you might get the poorer quality jobs
  • Those living in villages, smaller towns etc may not find many jobs
  • Although the market is increasing companies may look at using gamification to get the same information (for free)
  • You have to keep it a bit of a secret. Failing to do so may get you blacklisted even if you get asked by staff. Imagine you’re James Bond!

Things you will need:

  • An email address
  • Access to the internet (required for them all) & a computer (not required for them all)
  • Often you will need a smartphone to snap photos etc (not always)
  • You will need a printer / scanner
  • The ability to report your earnings to HMRC
  • The ability to dress accordingly (i.e. you wouldn’t wear a suit when going to a builders merchants)

Companies offering Mystery Shopping:screen696x696

  • GrassRoots
    Pay: 4 weeks
    Pick which jobs: Yes
    Timeframe to complete: 24 hours
    Notes: You’ve got to be quick for the high paying jobs, jobs listed by postcode near you only.
  • GapBuster
    Pay: Monthly
    Pick which jobs: Yes
    Timeframe to complete: 8 hours
    Notes: Been in the industry for 18 years.
  • Retail Maxim
    Pay: Two pay dates a month, one around the middle and one towards the end (expenses paid every week if over £18)
    Pick which jobs: Yes
    Timeframe to complete: Varies
    Notes: Founded in 1993. Large differences in job payouts, other jobs like ‘customer surveys’ are options, typically they are an enquiry in the store and maybe a little purchase which is always reimbursed. e.g. haircut assignments every month which you get the haircut reimbursed and the fee on top, so that one is pretty good for people who are tight on money as they get paid to have a haircut!
  • Market Force
    Pay: Twice monthly (average of £5-£10 per job + reimbursement towards purchases)
    Pick which jobs: Yes
    Timeframe to complete: Varies but can be short notice
    Notes: Large selection of big clients nationwide, app allows you to apply for jobs on the go.\
  • Serve Legal – Open to 18-19 year olds ONLY
    Get paid to buy alcohol.
    More information on
  • Field Agent
    Pay: £3-£10 per job, you can request payment whenever. Payment for expenses often not given.
    Pick which jobs: Yes
    Timeframe to complete: Varies but can be short notice, normally under 1 hour to complete once you select it
    Notes: Some weeks you won’t see any jobs, then they get hundreds to be completed. Often these are product checking (e.g. does XYZ store stock this product, snap photos of the display etc)
  • Street Bees
    Pay: 24 hours after job completion (£4-£7 per job) via Paypal
    Pick which jobs: Yes
    Timeframe to complete: 24 hours & 12 hours to reserve a task. Repeated reservations without completing a task will get you banned.
    Notes: Some weeks no jobs, other weeks tons of jobs.
  • Bonus: CheckoutSmart (not Mystery Shopping but rewards for buying certain things)
    Pay: Payments under £19.99 will incur a 5% fee however best of all payments of £20 or above have 0% fee. All payments are made the Thursday after being requested.
    Pick which products: Yes
    Timeframe to complete: Varies but up to 7 days after purchase is the max we’ve seen
    Notes: Large selection of brands, many of them will only offer a partial discount on a product however SOME offer totally FREE products.
  • Roamler
    Pay: Around £4 per task, but it can vary between £2 and £10.
    Pick which jobs: Yes
    Notes: Cash out at any time.

Example of a job listing:

Job from Field Agent. Paying a total of £5. 8th January 2016






UPDATE: There is 1x NEW added question to this Blades Audit




Task Category:- Product Availability Check

Agent brief: Entering the store as a customer, we would like you to locate where the Gillette blades and razors are sold.

Bearing in mind these could be located in more than 1 location (including around the tills) Make sure you conduct a store walk first.

We want you to report on sales from the shelves only. Please report on sales from the checkout only if you are sure there is no other blades and razors section in the store.

Once located, go through the list of products within the app and answer Yes/No to whether the product is on display or not.

*** IMPORTANT: If there is a product card/dummy POS on the display, mark that as ‘YES’ just as you would for a REAL PACKET.

*** Note, whether the packs are real or dummy as we will ask a question about this towards the end of the task.

There are up to 13 razors to check, please do not rush, take your time. Data Accuracy is key!

The last part of this task is OOS photos – we have given you 2 photo options, so If there were blades on the list that you found were OOS (out of stock) please take a photo of the gap(s).

Photo requirements:- If taking a photo of a gap, try holding the camera 2-3ft back, ideally we want the client to see the gap + surrounds, but still close enough to see which product is OOS.


If there were NO GAPS, take 2 photos of the whole Blades & Razors display from 2 different angles. We must be able to see the top/bottom/sides of the display.

** Any photos which do not meet the clients requirements will be rejected **


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Important things to remember with everything we post:

  • If you earn over your personal allowance (currently £12,570 a year) HMRC need to get their % cut (even if the money is in cash or from another country)
  • If you’re working for yourself / earning an income on the side you need to let HMRC know – There are numerous benefits but also some drawbacks
  • You need to always ensure whatever you’re doing is legal and not hurting anyone else – be careful and always think twice
  • Some income streams may require you to have DBS check, licence, insurance or qualifications before you can start to profit from it, do your research.
  • Be careful that any additional income doesn’t compromise your studies or main income/job
  • If you work for a company check your contract, if you don’t inform them you’re working on other side projects outside of work they may have grounds to ownership on this work

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