Mystery Shopper Jobs – Tips & Info to Find a Legit Job

You may have heard of mystery shopping jobs and are wondering, what is it and how do I find a legitimate job? Mystery shopping, or being a secret shopper, is essentially exactly what it sounds like. You are hired by a company to go into one of their stores or restaurants and secretly evaluate your shopping experience. While it may sound like the perfect part-time job for you, there are some things to consider when evaluating if a mystery shopper job is right for you and tips to avoiding the scams that are advertised online.

A mystery shopper job can be a good part-time job for many people. It is particularly appealing to a stay at home mom who wants to make a little extra money. However, mothers should know that children are not allowed to be with you while completing an assignment. After all, this is a job and needs to be taken seriously. You wouldn’t take your child to work with you at the office, restaurant or hospital where you may work; so you shouldn’t think that a mystery shopper job is any different.

There are a variety of mystery shopping jobs available. The majority are for national retail chains and restaurants. These companies hire marketing companies that specialize in providing audit and mystery shopping services. These marketing agencies are the hiring agent for the stores and restaurants. It is the marketing company’s job is to find qualified secret shoppers, schedule the assignments, review the evaluations/reports submitted by the shoppers and process payments. Therefore, when looking for a secret shopping job you will be signing-up with these marketing agencies.

How do you find a legitimate mystery shopper job?

The best place to start is with the Mystery Shopping Providers Association (“MSPA”). Their website outlines hundreds of member companies that are hiring mystery shoppers. You will be able to gather information on the companies, find links to their websites and see their primary contact information. You can then sign-up with any of these marketing companies to become a mystery shopper. You will be considered an independent contractor, which means that you will not be eligible to receive benefits and all taxes will be your sole responsibility. The MSPA claims that they represent over 250 companies worldwide, so there are plenty of potential companies for you to find jobs.

Is any special training or eduction required to become a secret shopper?

The simple answer is no. However, many companies will have hiring requirements and may be interested in people who are high school graduates, have a college degree, or are certified as a mystery shopper. Certification is available through MSPA. Their basic Silver certification costs $15 and can be completed online. Their more advanced education program is their Gold certification, which costs $99 and requires attending an all day workshop. They hope to have this program available via DVD in the future. While the silver certification is not a requirement for being hired as a mystery shopper, it can give you an edge over other shoppers. It also is a good way to learn the industry standards for this profession and understand the expectations of the hiring companies.

What type of job can you expect to find?

There are a lot of factors that can affect your ability to find mystery shopper jobs. First, most retail establishments have a particular customer they service. For instance, a store may be geared towards women age 30-50. Or, perhaps it is a store targeting parents. To receive the most effective evaluation of their store, a retail chain will want mystery shoppers who match their customer profile. Therefore, all of the hiring mystery shopping companies will require demographic data on their shoppers so that they can properly screen shoppers. You will not be eligible to complete an assignment if you don’t meet the requirements. After all, if you are a single person with no children, do you really have the proper background and experience to understand the needs of a store that caters to mothers?

How much money can one make as a secret shopper?

This will vary depending upon a number of factors. First, it will depend upon where you live. Areas of the country that have a higher concentration of retail establishments will probably have more jobs available. Second, your demographic information will contribute to the types of jobs available for you. One of the pros and cons of becoming a mystery shopper is that the work fluctuates from one week to the next. The benefit of this is that you can choose jobs that fit your schedule; the downside of course is that you can’t expect to receive a steady stream of income. The typical pay for mystery shopping assignments is between $7-$15 per assignment with purchase reimbursements included for some.

How do I avoid the mystery shopping scams?

The best way is to follow the steps outlined above and to sign-up with companies that are listed on the MSPA website. You do not want to fall victim to the Craigslist scams and misleading positions listed on other websites. So the best thing to do is steer clear of those sites and stick to MSPA. You should also note that a legitimate mystery shopping job will never send you a check to cash and ask you to send part of those funds back to the company. If you see this type of job listed you should avoid it altogether as it is definitely a scam.

A mystery shopper job can be a fun way to earn a little money. While you won’t get rich as a mystery shopper, the scheduling flexibility can be invaluable to a mother or anyone who is looking to use this is an opportunity to supplement other income.

The Pros and Cons of Shopping Online

Online shopping has become an appealing alternative for consumers looking for convenience, selection and value when making important or everyday purchases.
As long as an Internet connection is available, purchases can be made anywhere at anytime, and delivered to the location of the consumers choice in as little as one day.

Online shopping evokes the physical analogy of buying products or services in a freestanding retailer. You can see photos of the items, read product reviews and consult size charts to ensure your purchase is exactly what you are looking for. These reviews go a long way toward providing enough detailed information about a product so one can determine whether or not to purchase. Shopping online is quite convenient for shoppers who are unable to get to a physical store due to time or distance restraints, and it is especially helpful during the busy holiday season when stores and shopping malls are congested with buyers.

If a consumer knows exactly what they are looking for, online shopping can be a quick and efficient way to go. Some consumers find it helpful to do their research on a particular brand or item before they decide to purchase it online. However, if you feel the need to physically touch or try on the items you are looking to purchase, it could be problematic. In a conventional retail store, sales representatives are available to answer your questions. Some online retailers offer real-time chat feature or email or phone hotlines where you can ask you questions before you click buy.

Most online retailers offer rather easy return or exchange policies if you find the item is not what you expected once it arrives. It is important to read over the fine print before placing your order to ensure you can be at ease should the product not be suitable. Keep in mind you may still have to pay for the additional shipping charges that will be incurred when making a return.

Many consumers have found the best part of online shopping is the price advantage. Certain websites may sell products for a better price than normally found in stores, and online sales can bring further savings. It is important to do your research and know the average in-store price for certain items to ensure you are getting a fair deal online. Sometimes the additional shipping or duties costs can reduce the price advantage of shopping online. Some sites may wave shipping fees for orders over a certain dollar amount. If you are purchasing from a website based in another country you can expect to pay higher shipping costs for international order or rush delivery if you need your items to arrive quickly. Also keep in mind you may have to pay additional duties when your item crosses international borders.

One drawback of online shopping for some can be the methods of payment. In a store, cash can be used, and if debit or credit is used you can see who is processing your card information. You are also not typically required to give your home address when making a purchase. When online shopping you must give a name and a physical address for the product to be sent to, and some are uneasy about giving debit or credit card information over the Internet. Most sites these days are secure and will protect your personal information, but there can never be a 100 per cent guarantee.

When we look at the pros and cons of shopping online, the pros usually outweigh the cons, especially when consumers are looking for widely available items at the best possible price. You can save time and money by shopping in the comfort of your home and even discover new brands and products that you would not normally find on the shelves of your local retailer.

Pros and the Cons of Purchasing Wholesale Gifts

There are a lot of considerations when buying gifts. If you are starting a small business or if you are the type of person who loves to bring happiness to his or her loved ones, buying wholesale gifts may really be a great idea. Whether you are buying small cheap ones or you are getting the higher end deals, it is a lot cheaper when you buy things in bulk. But before you start purchasing online, you may want to know the pros and the cons of doing this.

There are two scenarios that may happen when you purchase items in bulk. One, you may really be satisfied with the purchase that you made. The second scenario is the complete opposite. To always have the first scenario, here are the pros and cons that you may want to look into.

Pros

1. It is Cheaper

It is a lot cheaper to buy in bulk. With this reality, you can actually cut the cost of year round gifts by simply purchasing them in bulk and later distribute the gifts to your loved ones. Straight from the factory, you can buy directly without the middlemen involved. This trend has been called drop shipping. Drop shipping changed the way people sell things online. Nowadays, this has changed the way people buy gifts as well.

2. No Worries for the Occasions All Year Round

One of the hardest things to do is to select the right gift for the person special to you. if you prepared the gift beforehand, this will no longer be a problem. Having wholesale items to choose from in your home reduces the stress involved all year round. You can also have birthday gifts, Christmas presents and many other gifts on your stock.

3. Comfort

The malls may tend to be the last place you want to be during Christmas time. With last minute shoppers and a great number of people enjoying bonuses, the retail stores turn out to be a stressful place to be. The good thing with the wholesale items that you bought online is that you skip this stressful process of buying gifts during the yuletide season.

Cons

1. Risky in Some Occasions

If you are buying from some sites online claiming that they are wholesalers, you may have to transact with them via email. These types of transactions are pretty much prone to a number of risks including scams. Fortunately, there are some online sites that provide a verification system that would at least give you peace of mind.

2. Taxes and Shipping

When you are buying items in bulk, there are instances when the taxes can make the price really hefty. If you will count the shipping cost and the taxes, you may end up with a hefty price tag for your presents. These instances can be avoided by inquiries before placing your orders to the wholesaler online.

Weighing the pros and the cons when buying wholesale gifts today is important because here is when you get the real score. There are instances when some gifts are best acquired through wholesale while there are times that this is not really a practical option for you to take.

The Pros and Cons of Online Shopping

Online shopping is becoming more and more popular each year as people embrace the convenience, selection, and low prices available when shopping online. In this article I speak to some of the pros and cons of online shopping.

There is something to be said for walking into a physical store and being able to see, touch, and easily ask questions about a product. One could argue that brick and mortar shopping is a more engaging experience, often filled with background music of some sort, along with the sights and sounds of other customers and clerks available to provide assistance when needed. Different products can be compared side by side with very little effort. One benefit of brick and mortar shopping is its organization, which allows one to locate the right department and the right shelf pretty easily. Everything the store offers is made available via a layout of straight-forward, logical departments. Online sites provide an organizational layout and text search capability, but this different way of locating a product of interest is one online shopping difference that takes some getting used to. Other benefits of brick front shopping is being able to get out of the house, exercise a bit, breathe some outdoor air and avoid cabin fever (this type of activity was quite important in the winter when I lived in Chicago).

People that are cautious in nature might find certain features of online shopping a bit hard to get used to, such as getting acclimated to what would be the equivalent of searching for merchandise with tunnel blinders that only permit a very narrow view of what is directly ahead of one’s eyes. Brick and mortar stores are physically arranged to make it more probable that certain items will be seen more than others. Online stores also provide focus on certain products over others. Most websites contain product descriptions, but the descriptions can be either too general or too detailed, making it difficult to compare two or more products on their features. If the shopper has a question that is appropriate for a human being such as a clerk in a store, where does the online customer go to ask the question? There is something lost in not having an informed person available to provide an immediate answer. Many popular online shopping sites now provide customer reviews-independent reviews provided by customers that have bought each product. These reviews go a long way toward providing enough detailed information about a product so one can determine whether or not to purchase it.

In the USA online shopping malls and websites address the limitations found in the online shopping process by offering near enough to a no-questions-asked return policy to ensure the happiness of the online customer. Even so, one downside of online shopping is having to wait to obtain the product, depending on whatever mode of shipping is selected. If a product needs to be refunded or returned for whatever reason, there’s the inconvenience of returning the product. This often involves a phone call and trip to the local post office, after which one waits again to either receive a replacement or refund. Compare this to just running the item and receipt back to a local brick front store and having either a refund or an exchanged product in hand within a few minutes.

Let’s talk about security. In a physical store, cash can be used, and if a debit or credit card is used the shopper gets to see who processes his or her card. Also, one is usually not required to provide personal information such as a name and physical address. Not so with online shopping, as the item must be addressed and delivered to a person at an address. Cash cannot be used online, so what entity processes the card and captures the personal information over the web? And how well is the personal information protected? One way to greatly reduce risk when shopping online is to use virtual credit card numbers. These numbers are provided by credit card issuers such as Citi and Discover, and can be used only once, so even if the credit card information is captured by some other entity during the transaction, it cannot be used to complete a second purchase. I use virtual credit card numbers when I shop online, and I highly recommend this practice.

Let us look at the benefits of shopping online. If the four-wheeled vehicle in one’s driveway is expensive to gas up, then it’s an obvious plus to be able to shop the virtual market and save transportation costs. It is also a “greener” arrangement-computers emit little or no carbon even when powered. For those who find it tiring to deal with crowds, there are none in cyberspace, and no lines to wait in during checkout. The magical online domain has no weather to hinder one, either-all shopping is done within a sheltered environment, safe from inclement weather. And there’s no need to worry about keeping one’s children together and in sight when online shopping. But perhaps the best feature of all is the cost savings that can be realized online. Online items can more often that not be purchased and shipped for substantially less, because the price doesn’t include any overhead costs associated with having a physical brick and mortar store. In most cases there is also no sales tax either, unless the merchant maintains some type of physical presence in the state where the item is purchased. For example, Amazon.com only charges sales tax on orders that are shipped to Kansas, North Dakota, New York or Washington, and Overstock.com only charges sales tax on orders that are shipped to Utah. To sweeten the deal, many merchants offer special online coupons, coupon codes and promotional codes that provide additional discounts.

As an example of the money that can be saved when shopping online, I bought a “Cuisinart Prep 11 Plus” food processor and used the online comparison shopping engine at Shopzilla.com to find the best deal, which was at Etronics.com for $172 with no sales tax and free shipping. A local Sears store had it listed at $199.99 and would have charged about $16 in sales tax for a total of $216. In this particular case I saved $44 (20%) shopping online and using Shopzilla to put online stores in competition for my business. And it only took me about 10 minutes of effort. With the advent of cheaper computing and increasing levels of online competition, people are generally becoming used to accessing the world through the eyes of cyberspace. So it is the coming thing, and a tide that is not likely to be turned. We as a society have adapted to other significant changes over time, such as the advent and convenience of air travel, trains and automobiles over horses, and online shopping is yet another paradigm shift we will adapt to.

In summary, when looking at the pros and cons of online shopping, the pros outweigh the cons, especially for items that are widely available and for which the best price is being sought. Shoppers save time and money buying what they need online and virtual store owners can run their businesses on far less overhead. The fact that the pros outweigh the cons is evident when one looks at the sharp increases in online shopping that have occurred on a global basis over the past few years.