Home-Based Ideas for Personal Shopper and Errand Service Businesses

Do You Have What It Takes to Start a Personal Shopper 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. Personal shoppers turn errands and shopping into a vocation, serving clients who are too busy or simply unable to shop for themselves. Purchases might include groceries and other necessary items, but more often they’re clothing and accessories. As a home-based business, it’s ideal for someone who loves to shop.

A sense of style and a bit of marketing savvy are imperative. Who's going to take sartorial advice from a schlub in T-shirt and jeans? 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.

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. Some personal shopper services charge a percentage of what the merchandise costs, or they may charge by the hour.

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

  • A passion for finding the perfect gift or outfit
  • An awareness of what’s new and trendy and what’s gone out of style
  • A cellphone or digital camera to transmit images of styles and colors to the client for consideration while you're shopping
  • Business cards, ads in print and online, and a website to promote your services
  • A reliable adequately insured vehicle 
  • An instinct for bargains and sensitivity to a client's budget

Advantages of a Personal Shopper Business

Confucius said that choosing a job you love means you'll never have to work a day in your life, so if you love shopping, this is the home-based business for you. As an added advantage, you’ll have the personal satisfaction of knowing you’ve made your clients feel attractive and good about themselves.

Bookkeeping is easy because you don’t have to maintain inventory, and you’ll have very little in the way of overhead – mostly auto insurance, gas costs and wear and tear on your vehicle.  

Disadvantages of a Personal Shopper Business

Clients can be picky when you’re catering to their personal tastes, so you’ll need patience. You might think you’ve found that perfect dress or handbag only to get a thumbs-down when you deliver it, necessitating a trip back to the store for an exchange. Customers can be demanding and may contact you at the last minute – they need those perfect shoes first thing tomorrow morning. Some may want you to be on call, available whenever they need you, and you may have to drop everything to shop at odd hours in an “emergency.”

Seniors may not be able to pay as high a fee as other clients, but they’re likely to become repeat customers because they often need help. You might expand your services to this clientele to include running other errands and shopping for groceries. They’ll need your services at least once a week, if not more often.