When it comes to making money online, mystery shopping generates a fair amount of buzz. After all, what could be more appealing than shopping up a storm – and getting paid for it? While there's more to it than that, people from all walks of life find mystery shopping a fun and worthwhile pursuit.
Feeling a bit doubtful about mystery shopping? Not really sure if it’s right for you? In this post, we'll step you through the best mystery shopping opportunities in Australia.
Read on to find out:
- What mystery shopping is and how it works
- Best mystery shopping sites in Australia
- How you can get started as a mystery shopper in Australia
- How to identify legitimate mystery shopping companies, and
- How mystery shopping compares with other forms of paid market research
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What exactly is a mystery shopper, and how does it work?
First up, let's run through the concept of Mystery Shopping and what it actually entails.
Mystery shopping is a form of market research work in which individual acts as a genuine customer to obtain data on the business studied. Shoppers are commissioned by brands, retailers, and survey companies to covertly assess various aspects of a business, product, or service.
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Mystery shopping isn't always about buying a product or service. Some assignments might involve carrying out related activities such as benchmark studies, price checks, stock checks, retail audits, product reviews, or competitor research.
While assignments differ, there's one key rule all mystery shoppers need to follow at all times – never reveal who you are! In order to obtain impartial data around customer experience, assignments need to be carried out discreetly, so as to avoid detection.
Best 10 Mystery shopping sites in Australia
Ready to jump in? Read on to discover the best 10 mystery shopper companies in Australia!
1. Mystery Customer
Mystery Customer is an established market research company that operates across Australia. The company has been in business for over 20 years and has carried out over 15,000 mystery shopping audits during that time.
To sign up to Mystery Customer, you will need to provide your contact details, bank details (so you can be paid for your jobs), and some personal information.
Each assignment you complete job is assessed and marked. The higher you perform, the more opportunities you will receive to carry out regular and sought-after assignments.
How they pay: Direct to a bank account. Mystery Customer makes payments between the 10th and 12th of the month for the preceding month of completed assignments.
How to sign up: Head to the Mystery Customer website to register. Mystery Customer offers prospective shoppers the chance to carry out training exercises prior to starting work. Then, you'll be asked to submit a trial survey and graded on your performance.
2. iShopFor Ipsos
iShopFor Ipsos is backed by one of the world's largest research organisations, Ipsos. As such, it offers the lion's share of mystery opportunities in Australia.
iShopFor offers many different kinds of assignments for leading brands and retailers. While most opportunities require shoppers to attend in person, some activities are able to be completed remotely. This includes phone interactions, communicating via email, and shopping online.
Users can browse the Ipsos Mystery Shopping App and the iShopFor Ipsos Portal to choose preferred tasks.
How they pay: Payment is processed every two weeks via bank account.
How to sign up: Register to join iShopFor Ipsos here.
3. Service Integrity
Established in 2004, Service Integrity is an Australian-owned mystery shopping company. The agency operates in Australia, New Zealand, and beyond.
Service Integrity claims to have over 50,000 registered shoppers on their books. Shoppers who sign up for the company are paid as registered independent contractors, which means that you'll need to hold an ABN.
When working for this company, shoppers can expect to complete assignments for a wide range of businesses such as banks, retail stores, food and drink providers, restaurants, chemists, retail, fashion, real estate, and technology.
How they pay: Contractors are paid via monthly direct deposit into a nominated bank account for each ‘approved shop' completed. An approved shop is an activity that has been completed in the correct timeframe and where the full instructions have been followed correctly.
How to sign up: Head to the Service Integrity website here to register to become a mystery shopper.
4. Field Agent Australia
Field Agent is a new kind of mystery shopping company. They offer a point of difference by crowdsourcing the smartphones of real shoppers and consumers.
To work for this company, mystery shoppers need to sign up as ‘Field Agents', download the company app, and register to undertake a variety of tasks. All available assignments are promoted on the Field Agent App and are assigned on a first-come-first-served basis.
Jobs are varied, and they include in-person and online activities. The company also offers survey-based tasks that can be completed remotely.
Field Agent assignments generally pay between $2 and $15.
How they pay: Field Agents use PayPal to process payments. App users will need to reach a minimum payout threshold of $25 to request a cashout. Once this minimum has been reached, you can choose to cash out funds whenever you like.
How to sign up: Create an account by downloading the Field Agent app for iOS or Android.
5. Retail Reality
Retail Reality is a longstanding mystery shopping company with a presence in both Australia and New Zealand.
The average payout for a shopping assignment is between AUD$15 and $25. From time to time, they may pay up to $80 per survey.
Retail Reality is often recruiting for new Mystery Shoppers around Australia and New Zealand. To work as a mystery shopper for this firm, you must have daily access to the internet and email.
How they pay: Mystery shoppers holding an Australian bank account will be paid electronically into their bank account. Mystery Shoppers in other locations (presumably this includes New Zealand) will be paid via cheque in the mail.
How to sign up: You can find the application form to become a Retail Reality mystery shopper here.
6. Prime Auto
Prime Auto is an Australian automotive mystery shopper company. It offers specialisation in vehicle sales and aftersales and has been in operation since 2003. Clients include automotive manufacturers, importers, and dealers.
Car buffs are likely to enjoy signing up to work with this firm, as the work involves assessing customer satisfaction through dealer sales mystery shops using visits, phone calls, and online browsing.
Mystery shoppers who work with Prime Auto can sign up for as many assignments that suit.
The going rate for assignments is high. An in-person automotive mystery shop generally pays between $80 to $100 per assignment. Payments for prestige assignments can be as high as $150.
How they pay: Prime Auto processes a bank account payment run twice per month. Shoppers will receive payment for an assignment after submitting and having it verified for accuracy and validity.
How to sign up: You can register to become a Prime Auto mystery shopper here.
7. The Realise Group
Since 2000, The Realise Group has positioned itself as one of the market-leading mystery shopping companies to businesses Australia-wide.
How they pay: Payment is made via EFT into an Australian bank account within 2-3 weeks following successful assignment completion.
How to sign up: You can sign up to become a mystery shopper for The Realise Group by heading to www.realiseonline.com and completing an application
8. The Secret Shopper
The Secret Shopper has been around for many years and it claims to offer some of the highest payments in Australia. Depending on the task, Secret Shopper payments may range from $30 to $100 per completed assignment.
The Secret Shopper is actively recruiting shoppers for all states and territories of Australia.
How they pay: Payment is made directly to a bank account. Some reviews suggest that payment can be slow, with a processing time of up to 2 months after an assignment has been completed.
How to sign up: To apply to become a secret shopper, head here
9. Marketshare Australia
Marketshare Australia is a boutique Market Research firm based in Brisbane that specializes in market research and mystery shopping. The agency has been in operation for over 30 years.
Marketshare carries out many mystery shopping audits each year.
How they pay: Payment will be made to your nominated bank account about 4-6 weeks after you have submitted an invoice.
How to sign up: To register interest, head to the Marketshare website here.
10. Hoed Research
Hoed Research is a leading mystery shopping firm that works with some of Australia and New Zealand's top companies. Their assignments cover banking, automotive, retailing, entertainment, food and beverage, tourism, and more.
Assignments typically pay between $15 to $100 per survey. Hoed Research also offers regular online and telephone work that you can complete from home. Shoppers can select the assignments they want to complete online.
How they pay: payment varies depending on the assignment. Pay runs are fortnightly and you can expect to typically be paid two to five weeks after the assignment finishes.
How to sign up: To learn more, visit the Hoed Research website here.
Getting started as a mystery shopper in Australia
If you have a good work ethic, a good memory, an eye for detail, and the ability to be discreet, you'll probably make a good mystery shopper. Here are the characteristics that companies usually look for:
- Able to blend into a crowd / conceal your appearance
- High-level of English proficiency
- Reliable, and able to meet deadlines
- High-level observation skills and an eye for detail (this will ensure you can provide a high level of detail in your post-mystery shopping reports and write ups)
In Australia, you will usually need to be at least 18 years old to participate. However, some assignments might need to be carried out by minors under supervision from a parent.
While most assignments are geared to specific demographics or behaviors, there are plenty of opportunities for the average consumer. That means, people from a very wide range of backgrounds can fulfill the role of a mystery shopper in Australia.
How much do mystery shoppers get paid in Australia?
Like all market research endeavours, the amount of money on offer can vary. Typically, payment is tied to the amount of time and effort that you need to outlay.
Typically, payment can be anywhere be between $10 and $25 per mystery shop, but it may sometimes even be up to $100 AUD.
Legitimate mystery shopping companies will always advise the payment on offer for an assignment.
Sometimes, in addition to money, you might get free items (think of a new beauty product) or food (such as a restaurant meal, which you will need to consume and evaluate!). The agency might also allow you to keep retail items that you are instructed to buy.
When you complete an assignment that requires spend outlay or travel, you'll usually be reimbursed for these expenses. Reimbursements should be discussed and agreed upon with the agency before you complete the assignment.
How many mystery shopping assignments will I receive?
Depending on where you live, the distance you are prepared to go, the level of your work, your dependability, and deadlines, you could get anywhere from one to ten tasks each month.
Signing up for multiple mystery shopping agencies is likely to help increase the number of opportunities you can access.
What equipment do I need to become a mystery shopper?
If you're keen to start mystery shopping, you'll need a little more than just your smile and your wallet.
Mystery shopping is all about recording information. Successful mystery shoppers will need access to a computer, a phone, and a reliable internet connection. Some employees might need to enter data into a mystery shopping company's CAPI system (that's Computer-assisted personal interviewing). So, some technical know-how to access online reporting systems and emails won't go astray.
It may also be beneficial to have a smartphone with a high-quality camera, as you could be asked to take photographic evidence of your assignment.
Where in Australia does mystery shopping operate?
Mystery shopping operates in locations all over Australia. This includes major cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Canberra, and Darwin.
Many companies post mystery shopping jobs for regional cities across NSW, Victoria, Western Australia, Queensland, SA, NT, Tasmania, ACT, and NT.
Often, assignments need to be carried out in regional and remote Australia. Mystery shoppers who need to travel will typically be reimbursed for travel expenses.
Mystery shopping Australia alternatives
If you're looking for an alternative to a physical mystery shopping job, there are a number of different activities you could consider.
Completing paid online surveys
Earning money by completing online surveys from the comfort of your own home or on the go can be a fun and easy way to supplement your income.
Depending on the site you choose, you could earn up to $8 or more per survey completed. Some sites also offer additional ways to earn, such as watching videos, reviewing products, or browsing the web.
Of course, not all paid survey sites can be trusted, so it's important to do your homework. There are, however, many legitimate online survey sites available and we cover almost all of them here on The Champagne Mile.
Product testing is an alternative market research activity that can generate cash or rewards, and it's similar to mystery shopping in the way it works.
Product testing in Australia generally entails brands or survey companies providing samples of products or services for you to test out. You'll typically be expected to evaluate your experience via a report or a review. Genuine and honest feedback is important.
From time to time, traditional survey companies offer product testing opportunities, so keep an eye out for invites!
Focus groups are one of the most popular market research techniques used by qualitative researchers. They allow brands to collect data on anything from goods and services. Many Australian market research companies administer focus groups.
Mystery shopping via phone
Finally, if the concept of mystery shopping is appealing to you, but the idea of visiting retail stores physically is a barrier, it's worth noting that many survey companies commission mystery shopping via phone.
The concept is similar to an in-person shop: You will be called and asked to contact a business to obtain specific details of a product or service, just like you would when shopping physically. When carrying out your assignment via phone, you cannot disclose that you are a mystery shopper.
To participate in phone mystery shopping, you'll usually need to sign up as a market research interviewer. Legitimate survey companies like Nielsen, The Social Research Centre, Ipsos, and Roy Morgan are often looking to recruit phone interviewers. Details and application forms can be found on company websites.
How to check if a mystery shop company is legit or a scam?
Sometimes, it can be difficult to know what is a scam versus a real mystery shopping job opportunity that could earn you money.
There are a number of actions you can take to ensure you're working with a trustworthy mystery shopper company that operates genuinely in Australia. This includes:
- Avoid any site that asks you to make payment to onboard to a mystery shopping program. Legitimate companies will never ask you to pay for the privilege of becoming a mystery shopper.
- The business should hold an Australian Business Number (ABN) and this should be registered on the company website. You can search online for an ABN here.
- Market research is heavily regulated in Australia, and most legitimate businesses will hold membership in a professional body like The Research Society or the MSPA. Professional bodies are important, as they require members to follow a Code of Ethics and work within guidelines when conducting mystery shops and collecting data.
- Most legitimate mystery shopping companies have a website where you can find out more about a company. A social media presence on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are also common.
- Search for online reviews and testimonials. Google the company to vet web reviews and consider signing up for the Australian Mystery Shoppers Forum to talk to other seasoned shoppers about their experiences in the industry.
Mystery shopping Australia: Conclusion
If you love hitting up the shops, then mystery shopping might sound like a dream come true. While the income on offer won't replace a full-time job, it can be a very attractive option for busy people and for those who want to fit in an interesting activity around their lifestyle.
Of course, the most difficult aspect of mystery shopping is finding a reputable company, and avoiding a scam.
But with the right research, it's not hard to find legit mystery shopping sites in Australia. Why not get started? It's an enjoyable way to make some extra money, and a flexible activity you can fit in around your day-to-day life.
Mystery shopping Australia Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How much do mystery shoppers get paid in Australia?
Mystery Shoppers are paid on an assignment basis and can range from $10 up to $100 per shop. Any authorised items bought will be reimbursed by the Mystery Shopping research company.
Which mystery shopping companies are legitimate in Australia?
Mystery Customer, iShopFor Ipsos, Service Integrity, Field Agent Australia, Retail Reality, Prima Auto, The Realise Group, The Secret Shopper, Marketshare Australia, and Hoed Research are all legitimate mystery shopping companies in Australia.
How do you become a mystery shopper in Australia?
To become a mystery shopper you'll need to register with several companies, be flexible for assignments, blend into a crowd, possess good written and spoken English for reports, and have an eye for detail.
Can I do mystery shopping via telephone?
Yes. You will be asked to contact a business to obtain specific details of a product or service via telephone, just like you would when shopping physically. You cannot disclose that you are a mystery shopper.
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