Tema Frank says, “We need people of all
backgrounds, all ages, all levels of computer experience.” In fact, they
are actively looking for relatively new Internet users. More experienced
computer users are able to “work around” problems that might stop
less-experienced customers from buying.
As with other mystery shopping jobs, you
should not expect a steady income from online mystery shopping. Payment
is typically made by check within two or three weeks. Overseas shoppers
who do not want to receive a check in U.S. or Canadian dollars are
sometimes paid via other means, such as Amazon.com gift certificates.
After you apply, you will be asked to
complete an unpaid training assignment. According to Tema, “We give you
a scenario and send you to the Web site. You alternate between two
screens–the client Web site and the questions. As you go through the
site you fill out a questionnaire answering questions about what you are
experiencing, how what you are getting differs from what you expected,
and whether you would still be on the site if you weren’t being paid to
The scenario might be something such as
looking for a gift for your mother or your 10-year-old nephew, selecting
items for your home, or other typical customer situations. A “budget”
will also be specified, such as, “You are shopping for a gift for your
10-year-old nephew. Your budget, including shipping and taxes, is $25.”
You will not actually purchase the item, but that is what you are to
The training assignment is shorter than
a paid assignment. Expect to spend 30 to 40 minutes on the training
assignment, and about an hour on a paid assignment. Paid assignments may
include testing the site’s search function and evaluating customer
service by sending an email inquiry or making a telephone call.
Online shops typically do not require
that the shopper actually complete a purchase. If entry of a credit card
number is required, the client may provide a dummy number so that the
shopper does not have to use his or her own credit card.
Although most mystery shopping
companies edit shopper reports to eliminate spelling and grammar errors,
Web Mystery Shoppers does not. They learned early on that there can be
value in errors such as misspellings. In reports for a banking client,
many shoppers spelled “mortgages” as “morgages.” This showed the client
that they needed to optimize for the spelling error, so that people who
search for information on “morgages” would find their site.
Web Mystery Shoppers clients include
banks, retail, florists, travel, B2B, non-profit, and government
agencies. According to Tema, “The usual clients I have are typically not
the same ones that hire the store-based mystery shoppers.”
So what does Tema Frank see as the
future direction of mystery shopping? She anticipates that companies
will want “360 degree mystery shopping, shopping all channels through
which the company operates” to make sure that the customer experience is
consistent whether the customer is dealing with a brick and mortar
store, Web site, catalog, call center, or other outlet.