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Office Supply Stores

Office supply stores are some of the least complicated mystery shopping assignments for beginners in this business.  Most of them don’t take a lot of time both in store and filling out the report.  You can do many of these assignments in one day. 

Most mystery shopping assignments for office supply stores involve an evaluation of a salesperson on the floor and/or the person at checkout. You walk into the store and wait for someone to assist you.  Usually, if you have to wait for more than 10 minutes, you can find someone on your own.    

Once you have been recognized by someone, the assignment usually requires you to ask them about a particular product.  The products will vary. The most common assignments are to ask about an ink cartridge, a printer or special paper used for printing.   

The client for many of these assignments is not the store itself. It’s the company that has their products on the shelves. The client wants to know what the employee recommends. A lot of assignments that I’ve done I asked about remanufactured ink and how effective it was.

The instructions for the assignment will tell you the exact questions to ask the employee.  You’re simply asking about the product. You don’t actually purchase the item.  

The report asks some multiple choice questions about the responses the salesperson gives. There will be questions about how quickly you’re helped and did the salesperson seem knowledgeable in answering your questions. If there is any narrative to write, it’ll be about 3 or 4 sentences.   

Audits at Office Supply Stores

The majority of assignments that I’ve done at office supply stores have been audits. These are considered “revealed” mystery shops, which means you enter the location as a vendor and not as a hidden shopper.

Audits usually involve a list of items to check on specific products that should be on shelves or signs on display.  Like mystery shops, the products are often ink cartridges, printers and paper products.  If you don’t see an item, you’ll probably have to ask an employee for help.  They can look up the product on their smartphones to see if it’s on a shelf in the warehouse.     

Signage is also important at office supply stores.  Printer and ink products have signs that clients want to have properly displayed. If there is a special promotion of a specific product, the client wants to make sure it’s properly displayed.    

Ink guides should also be on display.  These guides help customers match up a print cartridge with their own printer at home.  These guides were missing in many of my assignments.   

Another issue that clients look for is how their product is placed alongside the competition. The preference is that they are grouped together and not intermixed.  

Learn more about the legality of mystery shopping.

Some assignments will check pricing on specific products.  Audits are almost always ordered by the manufacturer who has products on the shelves.   

Audits usually take more time in store than filling out the report.  The questionnaire has simple checkboxes to fill out.  Usually, the narrative to write is short as well. 

Digital Photos Required

Audits at office supply stores often require you to take a few digital photos.   

Some assignments have a lot of specifics involved. If certain signage is not on display, the client wants a picture of it. If products are intermixed with the competition, they want a picture of that. Some want a picture of the storefront.  

Smartphones or digital cameras are commonly used for these assignments.   

Many of these assignments require you to make a purchase and to upload the receipt in your report.  The reimbursement is between $1 - $2.  Your purchase should be something small, like a pen or a candy bar.    

Some mystery shopping companies are easing the purchase of an item. The assignment would have to require digital photos that have the date and location embedded in the metadata.   

Payment ranges from $8 - $15 for these assignments.  Audits take a little longer to do. The pay will be about $2 or $5 more than a mystery shop.      

One last item of note for audits. You represent both the mystery shopping company and the client that requested the service as an independent contractor. You have to be professional and polite at these locations. The dress is business casual.  

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 had success with.      

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