It’s Secret Shopping Time!

It’s Secret Shopping Time!

In recent blog posts, we’ve made a case for doing  surveys and focus groups to analyse your peer-to-peer programme. But, another handy tool to add to your “assessment toolkit” is secret shopping. And here’s why…

With secret shopping, or “mystery shopping”, you get to see what the real participant experience is like from the perspective of–you guessed it–the participant! 

Pretending to be a participant (or potential participant) and moving through the marketing, sign up, fundraising and donation stages in the same way that other participants and donors are experiencing can help you uncover opportunities and insights that you may have been missing.

Ready to give secret shopping a go? Here are our top 3 tips…

Tip #1: Define your mission

Before you set out on your secret-shopping mission, think about what kinds of questions you are hoping to answer…or at least get some more insights on, such as “Does the experience flow well?”, “Does it feel exciting/important/impactful?”, “What would our corporate sponsors think?”…and so much more!

Bonus Tip: We find it helpful to make a list of questions that we hope to answer during our mission…and then use it as a checklist during the assessment to make sure we didn’t miss anything.

Tip #2: Go undercover

Do the secret shopping yourself (in disguise) to avoid any kind of special treatment from your staff or volunteers. This way you’ll have the real experience and will get to know how it feels like to be a participant. 

Bonus Tip: You can also ask someone you trust who is part of your target demographic to do the secret shopping…then collect their feedback! The more, the better!

Tip #3: Mind the details

Tackle the experience from every possible angle from the beginning to end. Pay attention to what you are feeling (or not feeling) during the different stages of the process and experience.  Also watch and listen closely to other participants. What are they saying? How are they reacting?


Bonus Tip: If assessing a virtual programme, take screenshots to record areas that might need improvement. If assessing a live event, take photos and videos. And in either scenarios, spend a few minutes after the experience to jot down notes of your initial thoughts, reactions and ideas.

Follow these tips and we are confident that your first (or next!) secret shopping mission will be a big success!

P.S. We have just a few spots left in our upcoming workshop on September 10th (in London) where we’ll be sharing top tips and best practices on all five assessment methods–data analysis, surveys, focus groups, volunteer/staff debriefs and secret shopping! Register yourself here.

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