Tricks of the Trade: What Every Mystery Shopper Needs to Know About Concealing Your Identity

Performing the site visit for a mystery shopping are often the most exciting aspect of the job for most mystery shoppers. It’s pretty hard not to feel a little jolt of electric excitement as you set foot inside your site visit location and begin fulfilling your assignment requirements. There is the thrill of doing something undercover that really keeps many mystery shoppers hooked into the job for a long term basis. Yet as exciting as the job can be, there is also a degree of stress and anxiety that stems from the fear of being caught while undercover. There are, however, some things that you can and should do to reduce your chances of getting caught.

Plan of Action. You absolutely have to have a plan of action when you go into a new site location. There are some large department stores, big box stores, and other such venues that you can really lose yourself in, and nobody may notice if you are in the store for 5 minutes or three hours or if you walk aimlessly down the same aisle five times. At smaller stores, however, this will absolutely be noticed by store staff, and you can be they will become suspicious. If they don’t think you are a mystery shopper, they may think you are a shoplifter or have some other devious plot in mind. Either way, the last thing you want is a store clerk’s scrutinizing eyes on you the entire time you are in a site visit location. So develop a plan of action based on the assignment requirements. Know what the requirements are and visually walk through how you plan to complete them in your head.

A Back-Up Plan. Every mystery shopper needs to have a cover story in mind for why they are in the store and what they are shopping for. Store staff may indeed approach you and ask if you need help. Beyond that, however, you also need to have a plan in place about what you will say if the staff becomes suspicious of you. Will you feign your confusion about walking down the same aisle five times by saying you just took some allergy medicine and are a bit groggy or are you trying to find the bathroom in the store? Every mystery shopper should have at least three or for of these excuses ready to pull out at the drop of a hat so that they sound completely natural.

When the Worst Happens. If you mystery shop long enough, the worst case scenario will indeed happen to you. Your cover will be blown. You will find that by thinking through a few of these scenarios in your head, you can really take the stress out of the possibility. Consider what you will say, how you will act, and how you will exit the site location. Often simply knowing how you will handle these โ€œwhat ifโ€ situations can take the stress out of the possibility. When you consider that acting stressed out and nervous can draw attention to you right from the start, you will see that there is quite a bit of value in being relaxed and at ease during your site visits.

You will likely always get that little jolt of excitement when you embark on a new mystery shopping assignment. Yet you can take the stress and anxiety out of the equation when you put these tricks of the trade to use.