How to Start a Personal Shopper and Errand Home Business

Turn Your Love of Shopping Into a Profitable Home Business

woman shopping and taking photo with cell phone
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Going into the personal shopper business is a little like becoming a professional gofer in that you can turn a hobby you love into income.

What does a Personal Shopper Do?

Personal shoppers get paid to shop and run errands, serving clients who are too busy or simply unable to shop for themselves. Purchases might include groceries and other necessary items, but often they’re clothing and accessories. As a home-based business, it’s ideal for someone who loves to shop.

A personal shopper typically interviews clients to get a firm idea of their tastes and their dislikes. Some go shopping armed with smartphones or digital cameras so they can transmit their finds and get approval before purchasing. Sometimes, the personal shopper and client go shopping together -- it's the shopper's job to advise and guide.

Skills Needed to Be A Personal Shopper

Some skills you'll need to be a personal shopper depend on what type of shopping or errand service you'll offer. If you're going to a stylist, you need to have a sense of style. Who's going to take fashion advice from a schlub in T-shirt and jeans?

On the other hand, if you're going to do grocery shopping, you should have a good sense about bargains and deals.

What Education or Experience do Personal Shoppers Need?

Some personal shoppers come from the corporate world and lean on their former networks to get their home-based business started. Others hail from department store employment where they may have held similar positions. A nose for quality bargains and people skills can go a long way.

What do Personal Shoppers Earn?

Some personal shopper services charge a percentage of what the merchandise costs, or they may charge by the hour. According to PayScale, the median per-hour rate is $11.50 per hour, with a total yearly pay ranging from $19,055 - $50,826.

Pros to Starting a Personal Shopper Business

  • Doesn't require a lot of start up money
  • No inventory
  • Allows you to get paid to shop
  • Build rewarding relationships with your clients who trust you to make good decisions on their behalf

Cons to Starting a Personal Shopper Business

  • Can be difficult to have enough clients to make a living. The most ideal location for a personal shopper business is in or near a large city.
  • It's not recession proof. In a tough economy, a personal shopper is an extravagant expense that many families will cut.
  • It can be difficult to convince people to pay you to shop for them.
  • Picky clients can be difficult to please.
  • Maybe asked to work unusual hours or put in a lot of time around holidays.

What You’ll Need to Get Started in the Personal Shopper Business:

Starting a personal shopper business requires much of the same tasks as other businesses including a establishing a legal business, writing a business plan, obtaining a business license, etc. Some other aspects you'll need to take care of in a personal shopper business include:

  • Having a passion for finding the perfect gift, outfit, or deal
  • An awareness of what’s new and trendy and what’s gone out of style
  • An instinct for bargains and sensitivity to a client's budget

Tools and equipment you should have include:

  • A cellphone or digital camera to transmit images of styles and colors to the client for consideration while you're shopping
  • A reliable adequately insured vehicle 

Marketing Strategies

Like many home businesses, your success in a personal shopping business comes down to how well you can convince people of your value. Why should they pay you to shop for them? That starts by your making a list of benefits your service offers. If you're buying clothes, what is your background or experience in fashion? What hours are you available and how much personalized service will you give? Do you have relationships with the stores you shop in? If you buy a lot, some stores may offer you a discount.

Once you know what you'll offer a client, you need to find ways to reach them. Some ideas include: