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Mystery Shopping at Grocery Stores

Grocery Stores are one of those mystery shopping assignments where you purchase items that you need, and you can get part of it reimbursed.  You will evaluate the cleanliness of the store and customer service from its employees. They’re not big moneymakers, but they’re not hard to do.     

The first item to look for when you drive in the parking lot is to see how clean it is. Are there shopping carts scattered about and not being collected? Once you’re in the store, you’ll have to look to see if the floors are clean, shelves are in order, and displays are correct. Some assignments include cleanliness in the restroom.   

 As you walk through the store, you’ll have to visit different departments and interact with an employee.  You can ask someone in the bakery about a specific cake. Ask about an item in the deli. Go to the seafood section and talk to an employee there. Find a person in the dairy and floral sections.     

It’s important to remember or write down the names and descriptions of people as you interact with them.  Most employees wear name badges, but some are hard to see.  Someone’s hair or jacket may be covering up the name. Or the badge is on a lanyard, and it’s turned around. In these cases, a description of the person will have to do.  

Grocery Stores

You can write down the names on your shopping list or enter it on your phone. However, you must be discreet about it.  Employees know there are mystery shoppers around and if you are spotted, they will be extra nice to you.  You don’t want that. If you ask for their name, that is another red flag for the employee.  They may suspect you are a mystery shopper and may go out of their way to help you when they normally would not do so. 

 You may have to talk to four or five employees before you reach the checkout counter.  Once you get there, you’ll have to listen to the cashier and explain what they said in their greeting.  The person who bags the groceries will be evaluated as well.  You may have to remember their names until you get back to your car.  

Reimbursements at Grocery Stores

The payment for mystery shops at grocery stores is usually around $20 - $25. The shopper payment itself is around $10-$15. The reimbursement is also around $10-$15.  

 You will not be able to spend $200 at a grocery store and write that amount off your taxes.  You can spend that much on an assignment. Be aware that you will not be able to write off any part of the bill, because you’re getting reimbursed. 

 The only items you can write off for mystery shops from grocery stores are the miles you travel to and from the store and your mystery shopping fee.  Check with a local tax expert to be clear on what you can and cannot write off on your taxes.

Once you’re done at the grocery store, it’s time to fill out the report and submit it to the mystery shopping company.  The questionnaire has a few multiple choice questions and requires some narrative to write.  Plan on spending an hour to fill out the report.   

The legality of mystery shopping.

Audits at Grocery Stores

There are assignments at grocery stores that don’t require you to be covert around the store. Audits are usually performed by mystery shoppers. A typical audit can be a list of food items that you need to write down prices. You may have to ask an employee for assistance if you have a problem finding something.  

 You may have to report to the manager of the store to let them know what you’re doing.  The manager on occasion will require you to wear a “vendor” badge during your visit.    

Audits can also be in the form of a person approaching customers and asking them questions about their buying patterns.   

There can also be a specific display that is performed by an outside vendor.  That vendor may be a mystery shopper.  Plus, there may be another mystery shopper assigned to take a discreet photo of that vendor to see if they showed up.   

Mystery shops at grocery stores are a great place for people to start a mystery shopping business. The instructions are not difficult and there are a lot of assignments available everywhere.  

Grocery Stores

The mystery shopping business is always looking for new faces to visit different places.  Learn how you can start your own mystery shopping business from my book, “Take That Job And Mystery Shop It!.”  I also list close to 200 mystery shopping companies that you can click on their website and fill out an application.  There’s information about each company and I indicate which ones I’ve worked with.     

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