The Changing Face of the Secret Shopper

The mystery shopper or secret shopper has been around for decades, but with the surge of development in technology and devices like smartphones, the face of the secret shopper is slowly changing and so is the industry of mystery shopping. Today mobile apps like Gigwalk and EasyShift are turning just about anyone with a smartphone in North America into a secret shopper. Just how they are doing it is both fascinating and may be a game changing phenomenon.

Every brand out there in the marketplace pays retailers a lot of money to build elaborate displays and to have satisfactory placement of their product down the aisles. Similarly in the movie industry the same thing happens with studios paying top dollar for displays inside the cinema. So how does one monitor these displays at thousands of retail stores and cinemas across the country? With thousands of people coming face to face with these displays and products on a daily basis, it created an opportunity to recruit them to use their smart phones and become secret shoppers.

The EasyShift mobile app created by Quri combines sales data with photographs, gamification, and a little bit of money to develop an army mystery shoppers who are able to gather a huge amount of information on the ground in a short period of time. The company calls the mystery shopper a “field agent” and these individuals receive alerts about the task they can choose to perform when they have the time. Although there’s not a lot of money to be made, according to the EasyShift website, you can earn some extra cash to cover the cost of your lunch.

As a result, Quri is able to provide brands with fast and rough data about what their displays look like, what the ads in stores look like, current inventory of stocks, and any information that may be obtained by a random consumer quite effortlessly. This enables advertisers and companies to ascertain if the in-store displays are working and if their promotional budgets are being spent with the best possible outcome.

If you like to try it out, EasyShift is now available on Apple’s iOS platform and you can download it for free. Gigwalk on the other hand is available both on iOS and Android platforms and is also free. There are several other companies working along with mystery shopping companies to develop similar mobile apps. However, EasyShift and Gigwalk are different in that they integrate photos, job searches, and geographical locations easily in one mobile app.

The success of these mobile applications in the coming years will determine if these types of mobile apps become global. So far secret shopping has been strictly a process of visiting stores, engaging with staff, and filling out a report after your visit. These apps do not do anything beyond finding a correlation between stocks that are available and the product displays and ads in the retail environment. However, this alone cannot dictate your sales volume as customer service also plays an important role when it comes to turning a profit. At the present time these apps do not have the capacity to perform this task or evaluate the retail environment.

The mystery shopper is a highly trained individual who knows what they are looking for, knows how to engage with staff, and knows how to provide feedback in extensive detail. It is impossible to train the masses with a few instructions on a mobile app that uses the thought processes of gamification. So it is impossible to foresee mobile apps changing the face of the secret shopper any more than the creation of field agents. Furthermore, you can’t have everyone engaging your employees and evaluating the service experience as this will be counterproductive and impossible to manage.

Mobile apps like EasyShift and Gigwalk are a great way to get consumers involved with your brand and it is a great way to increase awareness about mystery shopping. Having masses of people taking pictures in a retail environment will not be allowed everywhere and where it is allowed it should have a direct impact on where the displays are located. It is an interesting social and business experiment to see the many dimensions of a mystery shopper, but it’s highly doubtful that it will become any more than what already is today.

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