How to Start Personal Shopping Service

You can start personal shopping service with no capital.

Personal shopping service is a good small business idea anybody that enjoys shopping can start. Before, I continue with this article, I like to apologise to all my readers for not posting about small business ideas regularly as before. As you all know, the needs of readers are different. Therefore, I need to try to balance my writings by talking about things that will help people in their businesses. It is not enough to write about business ideas, I feel that people should be empowered to know how to analyse business ideas on their own. That is why I spent some time writing on business analysis lately. So, henceforth, any time I write about business idea, I will take time to analyse it further so that my readers can have a better understanding about the subject matter. They will then be able to decide whether a business idea is good for them or not.

Let’s come back to our today’s topic on how to start personal shopping service. If you have been following my past articles on small business ideas, you will notice that some of these ideas can be started with low investment. Personal shopping service is a bit different. It is different in the sense that you may not even require any capital to start personal shopping service. What you need most to work as a personal shopper is the shopping skills. There are some people that take great delight in shopping. Shopping is like entertainment to them.  On the other hand, to some people, shopping is boring and they will not mind delegating this task to somebody if they have the option. Here comes the opportunity for personal shopping service. Possibly you have been doing this as a hobby, the challenge you may be having now is how to convert it into a business. This is the essence of this article. So let’s go!

Be willing

Your willingness and readiness to start a personal shopping service as a business is very important. Until you see a business opportunity in what you are doing for others free of charge, it will remain just a hobby. Initially it may be difficult to start requesting money from people you have been helping to buy things for free. The best way to overcome this is by extending your services to new customers. By the time they realise that this is what you do for a living, they may be the one to first suggest to you that you collect money for your personal shopping service.  You shouldn’t be afraid of asking them to pay you. If you don’t ask, they may think you don’t want to collect money from them. Apart from your immediate family members, your potential customers include celebrities, busy executives, senior citizens and corporate organisations. You must understand the needs of these various customers. The needs of the customers will definitely be different from one another. Let’s take a look at them one by one:

Celebrities: A celebrity may be a popular artiste, football star, top politician, a musician etc. It does not matter their disciplines, what is common to them is that all eyes are always on them. People take notice of what they do, what they say, what they wear and how they wear it. At times, some of them don’t know exactly what to buy that will make them look good and acceptable to their fans. As a result of their popularity, they may want to restrain themselves from going or appearing in certain places. This category of customers will like to engage personal shopper who can help them in buying some of their needs such as clothes, shoes, groceries and so on. You need to understand their taste, colour, sizes and brand preferences. You should not assume this. You get to know this by asking them. In a situation where they don’t have a particular colour or brand in mind, you can then make suggestions to them. Except the person gives you the free hand to buy anything you think will be okay, you should endeavour to seek his/her approval before making any purchase. With the use of camera phone and WhatsApp, you can easily send pictures of what you want to buy across if there is a need for it. As a personal shopper, you will need to keep yourself abreast of the trending fashion for the sake of this category of customers.

Busy Executives: Busy executives in most cases know what they like to buy. The problem they have is that they don’t have the time to do the personal shopping. Essentially, you need to work with the list of items they give you. The most important thing here is that you need to agree the price range they are willing to pay for the items.In case of price variation in the market, try to reach them on phone before you make the purchase.

Senior citizens: If you have lived with a senior citizen, you will probably understand their needs better. Their needs vary from foodstuffs to grocery items. Apart from your personal shopping service, they will like to work with someone who can spend time with them. Therefore, what you are selling to them is not just personal shopping service; it is all about love and care.

Organisations: Do organisations require personal shopping service too? Yes, they do. Organizations do buy gifts for their customers especially during birthdays and festive periods. You may not need to wait till these organizations request for your personal shopping service. You need to market your service to them. You can even suggest to them the best gifts to buy for their customers.

Read Also: How to Increase Sales Without Extra Marketing Costs

How to charge

As a personal shopper, you should know how to charge for your service. The main three ways you can charge for your personal shopping service are:

Fixed rate: Charging a fixed rate means that you have a standard amount you will collect from a particular client or for a specific personal shopping service you render. The disadvantage of this is that your client may load your day with so much shopping activities to the extent that you don’t have time for other clients. Before you agree on the fixed rate, you should ascertain the scope of the shopping service.

Commission: In this method of charging for personal shopping service, it means that you receive commission based on the value of the things you buy for your clients. The disadvantage of this is that some heavy or bulky transactions may not have much monetary value. If you want to receive commission, it will be good if you set a minimum benchmark for your fee. Anytime the commission falls below your benchmark, the client should be ready to pay a certain amount as minimum payment due to you.

Per hour fee: If you charge per hour for your personal shopping service, it means that clients will pay you based on the number of hours you spend to execute their orders. The main challenge here is when you combine orders of two or three clients. Would you split the time you spend across the clients or will you bill them individually for the whole time you spend at the supermarket?

Other benefits you can derive from personal shopping service include the following:

  • Bulk discount you enjoy by combining orders from different clients.
  • You don’t need to spend an extra hour for your own personal shopping.

Cost management

Your main cost of doing business as a personal shopper will be the cost on transportation. You should ensure that your fees do not only cover your costs, you should be able to enjoy a good level of profitability.

Registration of business

You may start your personal shopping service in an informal way. However, if you want to secure jobs from top celebrities and corporate organisations, you need to register your business. It does not matter whether you register the business as a sole proprietorship.

Read Also: Why You Must Register Your Small Business

SWOT Analysis of Personal Shopping Service

Before you finally take the plunge to start your personal shopping service, it is good you look at the SWOT Analysis below. This will help you assess yourself whether personal shopping service is a good business idea for you.

Strengths

  • Retail skills
  • Shopping skills
  • Good customer service
  • Personal relational skill
  • Experience working with senior citizens
Weakness

  • No retail skills
  • Lack of shopping skills
  • Poor customer service
  • Bad personal relational skill
  • No experience working with senior citizens
Opportunities

  • Concentration of celebrities
  • Large number of busy executives
  • Many senior citizens within neighbourhood
Threat

  • New entrants
  • Online purchase

From what you have read hitherto on how to start personal shopping service, I don’t think I need to repeat myself on the strengths and weaknesses listed above. I will just throw more lights on the opportunities and threats I mentioned above.

Opportunities

You may possess all the strengths in the SWOT Analysis template above. That does not mean you can now rush into starting a personal shopping service. If you don’t have people who are willing to hire you as their personal shopper, the skills make no difference. Also, it is important to mention that opportunity to start a personal shopping service only arise when you have enough people who can afford to pay for your service. That is why your target customers should be top executives with fat earnings and celebrities.

Read Also: SWOT Analysis and How To Use it

Threats

New entrants: There is one thing about business, if people discover that a particular business is thriving, you will see them starting the same business. There is no entry barrier to personal shopping service. This can make the business to become saturated very soon. Nevertheless, if you are an early starter, you can quickly build reputation for yourself by rendering quality services to your customers.

Online shopping: Technology has changed many things including our shopping habits. With various eCommerce websites on the internet and the online banking facility, one can conveniently do most of his shopping from the comfort of his home. This is a major blow to personal shopping business. With online shopping, personal shoppers may soon lose their relevance.

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