Mystery shoppers act as "eyes" and "ears" for management, visiting stores, restaurants, and other businesses to check on service, look at displays, and answer other questions without revealing their mission. I've been on both sides of mystery shopping--as a retail manager receiving feedback and as a mystery shopper myself, visiting stores to buy something, return it, report on the general condition of the store, and so on.
Today, mystery shopping has gone mobile. Mobee (app shown above) is a Boston-based mystery shopping service that has a Yelp-like role in providing instant feedback. Businesses can use it to see how their customers are being treated, how certain branded products are being sold in stores, or for competitive intelligence. "We collect data from customers at your stores, analyze it, and package it into insights that improve your business," says Mobee's web site. At any one time, about 500 "missions" (requests for mystery shopping) are active, many for fast-food franchised restaurants. Mobee's mobile users earn gift cards for answering questions as they visit the outlets being shopped.
Rewardable takes a similar approach in the Connecticut area. Customers open the app when they're near or at a store, see what "tasks" are available, and then click to answer a few questions as mystery shoppers. The company recently completed mystery shopping for a food company interested in checking that its promoted products were on an end cap and visible throughout the sale dates at Stop & Shop supermarket stores.
Mystery shopping is important all over the planet. In Asia, Shopbust is a mystery shopping app with consumers participating in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Singapore. Participants receive payments via PayPal. Of course Shopbust is social, with both Twitter and Facebook activity.