How to Start a Personal Shopper Business

Turn Your Love of Shopping Into a Profitable Home Business

woman shopping and taking photo with cell phone

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Personal shoppers get paid to shop and run errands, serving clients who are too busy or simply unable to shop for themselves. As a home-based business, it’s ideal for someone who loves to shop.

What does a Personal Shopper Do?

A personal shopper typically interviews clients to get a firm idea of their tastes and their dislikes.

Purchases might include groceries and other necessary items, but often they’re clothing and accessories.

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, and it's the shopper's job to advise and guide.

Skills, Education, and Experience Needed

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

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 $11.57 per hour, with a total yearly pay ranging from $23,000 to $76,00.

  • Doesn't require a lot of start up money

  • No inventory involved

  • Allows you to get paid to shop

  • Build rewarding relationships with clients

  • Can be difficult to build client base and build trust

  • It's not recession proof (because it's viewed as a luxury)

  • Picky clients can be difficult to please

  • May need to work unusual hours and long hours during holidays

What You’ll Need to Get Started

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 things you'll need include

  • 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 mobile phone or digital camera to send 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?

Begin by making a list of benefits your service offers. If you're buying clothes, then 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:

  • Business cards and brochures to share with potential clients
  • A website: This will be a home base where people can find information about what you offer, request your services, and get in touch.
  • Social media accounts: Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest can be ideal places to promote your styles as a stylist personal shopper)
  • A referral program: Happy customers can be the best source of new clients.