Frequently Asked Questions


  • How do I select an assignment to complete?

    When you receive an email advising that we have assignments available in your area, you should login to your inbox on  This is where you will make your selections and enter your results.   It is very easy to use - simply select an Assignment that you'd like to complete and click “Apply”. When you have committed to completing an assignment it is vital for us that you complete this by the deadline given. You do not need to wait for an e-mail. Check your inbox within the WebMS system on a regular basis.

  • Will I have to do the assignment within a certain time frame?

    Absolutely, our clients require their assignments to be carried out on a particular day, or within a given time period.  We are not able to change this requirement and when you accept any assignment and agree to the deadlines, we need you to commit to doing this.  If for any reason you cannot, we would ask you to decline your allocation on the system so that another Researcher can undertake it.

  • What is the best way to prepare for an assignment?

    Read the instructions even if you have done this type of assignment before (details often change).

    Have the paperwork information (small copy questionnaire, address of the outlet) ready ahead of the visit.

    If not provided on the instructions, always think through a good scenario before the assignment.

  • What do I do if the store I am meant to visit is closed despite the fact that I am visiting at the right time?

    Please call the relevant helpline as soon as possible. If you leave a message, please leave your name, contact number, the project name and number and any other relevant information. You should also take a picture of the closed store so we can send it to the Client.

  • Who will I talk to for queries and help when I am out and about conducting visits?

    Please always keep the ESA Retail helpline numbers with you. You can always contact our Field Team on 01727 730308.

  • How do I know what a specific assignment requires?

    You must read the instruction document: It is important that you always come across as a real shopper and reading the document will give you all the background and information you will need to do this. It will highlight any particular aspects of the Assignment that you will need to pay special attention to.  It may seem daunting at first, but once you have read the brief through a few times you will see that this is typically no different to your usual shopping experience, it will just be that you are taking more notice of the service you receive and looking out for specific things.

  • How long does each assignment take?

    This is variable, depending on the project.  A telephone call can be as short as 5 minutes, a store visit may last 20 minutes, and if it is a very complicated project this could last for an hour or so.  The briefing notes will advise of the estimated length of each Assignment before you accept it.

  • How do I return my work?

    As soon as you get back home log onto our Website and report your results to us.  Always do this on the same day as you carried out the assignment.  Timing is crucial to our clients and we will often report to them within hours of an assignment being completed.  It is vital that you enter accurate and detailed observations while they are still top of your mind.  The system is available to you 24 hours a day to ensure that you are able to enter your results promptly.  Results are generally expected within 24 hours of completion of the assignment; however this may vary from job to job.  If you do not deliver your results within the timeframe specified for each project, we may not be able to use your data and pay you.

  • Will I have to buy anything?

    This will depend on the requirements of the Assignment and will be specified in the briefing notes.  You may be asked to purchase a specific item or you might be asked to agree to a particular service which you will then cancel.  All of this will be made absolutely clear in the briefing notes.

  • Can I go to another outlet of the same chain if the one I was meant to visit is closed?

    No.  You cannot unless it is explicitly mentioned on the instructions document.  In any case you must inform the office via the relevant helpline and await instructions.   Visiting a different shop without prior authorisation will result in non-payment.

  • Will I be paid if I do not return the receipts?

    If receipts are a specified requirement of the assignment, payment cannot be made until the receipts have been received.  ESA Retail also reserves the right to withhold payment if the data cannot subsequently be used due to any such delay.

  • How do I return receipts which I must obtain as proof of visit?

    The system allows you to electronically attach (at the time you enter the data) the receipt to the questionnaire it refers to.  You can take a photo (using your mobile or digital camera) or scan it; you then download the photo onto your PC, save it and attach it to the data.

  • What if I am challenged as a mystery shopper?

    Always have a good excuse/explanation or scenario ready before you start the assignment.  Inform the office via the Mystery Shoppers helpline if you do experience any difficulties.

  • Can I claim for mileage?

    There will be a fixed fee for the assignment and therefore no mileage will be paid.

Some of Our Clients