Getting the Most Out of Your ‘Required Purchase’ as a Mystery Shopper

Many mystery shoppers, new and seasoned alike, balk at the ‘required purchase’ requirement. There are several common complaints that mystery shoppers have about such requirements. Some say that the reimbursement for such purchases almost never covers the actual cost of the item they purchased, often even when buying the cheapest thing in the store. Others say that they are buying items they never intended to purchase in the first place, and so the perceived benefit of the expense reimbursement simply equates to loading their house up with more junk.

The fact is that required purchases can be a pain, not to mention a drain on your mystery shopping profits, too. However, it doesn’t have to be that way at all if you use these required purchases to their maximum potential. Here are some tips to really make the most out of this aspect of mystery shopping:

Pick and Choose Your Assignments. The fact is that your compensation as a mystery shopper is not just about the base pay. A large chunk of your profits, and oftentimes the biggest chunk, comes from expense reimbursement. Consider that you are getting paid in cash as well as goods of your choosing rather than just cash and more cash to cover a purchase. When you look at the compensation as cash plus goods, and if there is nothing at the store that you want or need, that assignment simply isn’t very worthwhile to you at all. So picking out the right mix of assignments can make them more valuable to you.

Choose Your Goods Wisely. Now just because a store has some things you may like doesn’t necessarily mean you need them. For instance, if you were not intending to buy a pair of running shoes and don’t really need them, why would you do a one-hour athletic shoe store assignment that pays, for example, $8 in compensation plus has a $10 expense reimbursement. The cheapest shoes you could likely find in such a store are $40, and so you would truly be in the red on this assignment! Of course, sometimes such stores carry athletic socks, t-shirts, and hats (which may cost closer to the $10 mark than running shoes do), and you may need some of these items even if you don’t need new running shoes. So clearly how you put that expense reimbursement to use does make all the difference!

Weigh the Benefits. The unfortunate truth is that an assignment that looks great to one mystery shopper may look like a complete waste of time and effort to another. This is because half, if not more, of most assignments’ compensation comes in the form of goods. So there is no clear-cut answer or way to rate a specific assignment, and you may carefully analyze each one and weigh its usefulness to you right now. Some assignments, like those for grocery stores and gas stations, are great for most people most of the time. Others, such as movie theater checks, coffee shops, and others, may be more frivolous items and yet can add to your quality of life.

As you can see, if you want to get the most of your mystery shopping assignments and put those required purchases to the best use possible, you will want to spend some time picking and choosing the assignments carefully. Keep in mind that the goods themselves are a part of your compensation, and make sure that the goods you can get will be worth your while.