It’s almost dinner time and you’re just getting off work, only to realize that your fridge contains a carton of milk and two pieces of stale cheese, which means it’s time for that one dreaded household chore you’ve been putting off: visiting the grocery store.
This is a recurring experience for a lot of us, and many people wish they could just have a personal grocery shopper do it for them instead.
I know I certainly do.
You might not be a big fan of grocery shopping yourself, but as a side gig, you couldn’t ask for better.
Becoming a professional grocery shopper is super easy and it doesn’t matter where you live. As long as there are people, your services will be in demand.
Look at it this way:
Grocery shopping is generally a pretty hated activity.
It’s time-consuming, the parking and aisles are crowded, the lines are long, and it’s overall a very tedious experience. But you can seize this opportunity to provide a service and earn money from it in return.
Whether you’re just looking for an easy part-time job that won’t take up too much of your time, or helping people really appeals to you, getting paid to buy groceries for others is a very accessible way to earn some extra money on the side.
I’ve delved quite a bit into the secret shopper biz before, which has you working for the retail company and not the customer. But now I wanted to see what getting paid to shop is all about when the clients are other people with the same needs as you.
Let’s look at how personal grocery shopping works, what you can expect to earn, and what your future prospects are.
What Does a Personal Grocery Shopper Do?
The name is pretty self-explanatory, but for clarity’s sake, here’s what the job entails.
A personal grocery shopper is someone paid to buy and deliver groceries.
It’s their job to find out what the client needs, get to the store, buy the groceries, and then deliver them to the client at a pre-arranged time and place.
Usually, clients don’t pay ahead of time, meaning you have to buy the groceries out of pocket and have them reimburse you after you’ve delivered.
However, many companies now provide a debit card for you to use while shopping so you don’t have to use your own money.
Who Needs Personal Grocery Shoppers?
Those who book personal grocery shoppers generally fall into one of four categories:
- Busy people who don’t have time left in the day to get to a supermarket and buy groceries for themselves or their families.
- Families who have a holiday home or hire a vacation rental and want a fully stocked kitchen when they arrive. (If you already have an Airbnb business going, then adding grocery shopping to your list of services could be a great additional income source for that too.)
- The elderly or physically challenged who struggle to or cannot leave their homes unaided.
- People with agoraphobia, severe anxiety disorders, or other mental disorders for whom going outside is extremely difficult.
Not only can becoming a personal grocery shopper be a flexible part-time job, but it can also be a surprisingly fulfilling way to help others.
I’ve talked a fair amount about flexible jobs on here because that’s sort of a staple for anyone looking to set up their own part-time side hustle, but few of them give you the added satisfaction of helping out someone who really needs it.
Pros and Cons of Being a Personal Grocery Shopper
So why is this a viable opportunity for side cash, full-time income, or home-based business?
First, it’s cost-effective. With a grocery shopping app, you can start earning with as little as a few hundred bucks for gas money.
Even if you are going on your own, you can market your business through social media, free listings, or word of mouth.
Second, it allows you to have flexible hours. You can work part-time, full-time, for as few as 2 hours a day or as many as 12 hours a day if you want.
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So you can start right away as a part-timer while you have a full-time job, and then move up in hours when you decide you want to do this as a business.
Third, there’s no need for an office or even physical space to do your work. Just hop on your vehicle and start earning.
Lastly, you get paid quickly. Often, you get your tips real-time, and the company pays you your fee or commission either immediately or on a weekly basis.
Being a personal grocery shopper does have its cons, too.
First, you’ll need a vehicle, which may not be affordable for some. That said, depending on the area you serve, you can start with at least a bike or a motorcycle.
Second, no matter how high the demand in your area is, your earnings are limited to how many orders you can fulfill in a day, which can be hindered by store limitations, out-of-stock items, heavy traffic, and many other factors.
What Do You Need to Start Being a Personal Grocery Shopper?
Well, for starters, you’ll need to be above 18 years old (at least 21 for a few grocery shopping apps).
You’d also need the following:
- A smartphone that can handle delivery and GPS apps
- Access to a reliable vehicle
- Auto insurance
- Valid driver’s license
- Clean driving record
- Physical ability to carry heavy bags of groceries, possibly up and down stairs
- Time management skills
- Decision-making skills
- Empathy and patience, especially for older or impaired clients
Once you have all these, you can get started in one of two ways.
You can either sign up with a company as an independent contractor or set up your own personal grocery shopping business from home.
Let’s take a closer look at each of them below.
Join a Personal Grocery Shopping Company
Thanks to the rising demand for personal shoppers, especially during the pandemic, there are several companies you can join in kickstarting your side cash venture.
You’ll have to apply to become one of their registered shoppers and will likely have to go through an interview process, but the requirements are usually simple.
Generally, to apply to become a personal shopper for grocery delivery companies, you’ll need to be over 18, own a car and a phone, and have the ability to lift and carry around 40 pounds worth of grocery bags.
While these companies will dictate how much work you’ll get and how much you can be paid, they definitely provide an easier way to find clients since they do all the marketing, handle customer service, and maintain the technology (i.e., the apps) themselves.
Here are some companies to consider joining.
DoorDash is mostly known for restaurant deliveries, but they’ve recently expanded their services and partnered with grocery stores and convenience stores selling grocery items.
Your earnings are determined by your Base Pay (calculated based on time, distance, and demand), Peak Pay (allows Dashers to earn more during peak hours), Challenges (earn extra for completing a certain number of deliveries in a certain amount of time), and your tips (you get 100% of tips).
To apply to be a Dasher, you’ll need to be 18 and above, have a smartphone with an up-to-date operating system (Android or iOS), have access to a reliable vehicle (car, scooter, or bicycle in select areas), and pass a background check.
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With Instacart, you can choose to be either a full-service shopper or an in-store shopper.
Full-service personal grocery shoppers work as independent contractors, receiving orders on their app, shopping, and delivering these groceries to Instacart customers.
By contrast, in-store shoppers are Instacart employees who work in-store to shop for groceries, bag them, and prepare them for pickup.
For both roles, you’ll need to be 18 and above, have a smartphone with an up-to-date operating system (Android or iOS), be able to lift at least 30 pounds and pass a background check.
Full-service shoppers need a valid driver’s license, car insurance, and access to a reliable vehicle.
Shipt is yet another grocery delivery app with customers in several major cities all over the country except Alaska.
Shipt Shoppers get paid when they complete orders plus they get 100% of customer tips.
They also have the Shipt Perks program for their Shoppers, including such rewards as Covid-19 assistance, tax prep discounts, discounts on auto, lifestyle, fitness, and insurance products, and free Shipt membership as long as they’re active Shoppers.
In contrast to other apps on this list, Shipt interviews all shopper applicants, even though they’re independent contractors.
To apply as a Shipt Shopper, you’ll need to be 18 and above, have a smartphone with Android 5.1 or newer or iOS 10 or newer, have a valid driver’s license, auto insurance, have access to a reliable vehicle (1997 or newer), be able to carry 40 pounds or heavier, and have a broad knowledge of produce selection.
When you get accepted, you get sent Shipt-branded gear and a Shipt card that gets loaded with funds every time you accept orders on the app.
Gopuff is a platform that allows customers to get groceries, home goods, food, alcohol, medicine, and other essentials right to their homes.
What makes Gopuff unique is that they have local warehouses (called micro-fulfillment centers) per area they serve.
Thus, when you work as a Delivery Partner in a certain area, you only have one pickup point, with free, reserved parking and plenty of people to ask for help.
Your earnings are composed of your Base Pay (the flat fee you earn for every order you deliver) and Tips (Delivery Partners get 100% of their tips).
As a Delivery Partner, you can reserve blocks of time in advance when you’re willing to accept grocery orders from a specific facility. When you do, you get a minimum earnings guarantee for that block so that even if demand is low, you’ll still earn a predictable rate per hour.
To apply as a Delivery Partner, you have to be at least 21 years old, have a smartphone with the latest operating system (Android or iOS), have a valid driver’s license, own an insured vehicle under your own name, be able to pass a motor vehicle and criminal background check, and be willing to pass an alcohol delivery training course.
Grubhub is more popular as a food delivery app, but you can also be a personal grocery shopper with them.
Your earnings are based on time and mileage per order, tips (you keep 100% of tips), and incentives.
Scheduling blocks of time ahead of time when you can drive around and deliver orders will increase the possibility of getting orders. Unlike Gopuff, though, there’s no minimum earnings guarantee, meaning if you don’t get any orders during that time block then you don’t earn anything.
Being a Grubhub driver actually has its perks in the form of discounts on tax, healthcare, and car services. They also recognize drivers who have high attendance and order acceptance rates while having low block drop rates by giving them more opportunities to earn.
You’ll have to be at least 19 years old, have a smartphone, vehicle, driver’s license and auto insurance for drivers, and valid state ID or driver’s license for bike riders to apply to be a Grubhub driver.
Build Your Own Grocery Shopping Business
Starting out as a personal grocery shopper for a company gives you the experience as well as the opportunity to get to know some local clients, not to mention the chance to save some of your income to use as capital for your own grocery shopping business.
The good news is that you don’t need much; as long as you have your vehicle, a smartphone, and a way to pay for the groceries, you can actually start taking on clients.
Here are some factors to look at when starting your own grocery delivery business.
Are you in a location where there are people who will actually need your services?
Take a look at the list above of the people who are most likely to need the services of a personal grocery shopper. Are there people like that in your area?
You’ll need to register your business with the state, not just because it’s a legal requirement but also so that you can begin getting tax deductions on your gas costs as business expenses, and also your insurance premiums would have to be adjusted.
Having a registered business also gives you some leverage if you want to start collaborating with local grocery stores and partnering up for promotions.
When you’re just starting out, it can be a challenge to find customers to sign up for your service, so it’s more practical to prioritize spending your capital, both time and money, on marketing at first.
Try setting up different channels to reach people who would want to make use of your new service to know what works. You mostly want to target local customers first, and then expand from there.
It could be things like posting on Facebook groups and other online channels, handing out flyers and coupons at the grocery store, visiting retirement homes, and posting your details on notice boards.
If you’re into couponing, that is a great complement to your personal grocery shopper business. You can use couponing as a unique selling point for your business because not many grocery shoppers offer this as part of their service yet.
It might be especially attractive for people who want to make use of your services but have lower budgets to contend with.
The key to the success of your personal grocery shopping business lies in emphasizing convenience. It’s all about making an inconvenient chore as convenient as you possibly can so your clients keep booking your service and refer you to their family and friends.
Think of unique ways you can help make their lives easier.
Set up a newsletter with the week’s specials at popular stores in the area, create a loyalty system with different perks, or offer to buy them groceries with no delivery fee on their birthday.
There are a lot of ways you can set yourself apart from the competition, which could lead to a profitable business where you’re your own boss.
Another thing you might want to set up is a grocery checklist or website where your customers can indicate what they need and where you should buy it from.
Setting up a website is something you should definitely look into because it enables your customers to combine scheduling, listing, and payment in one place, making it more convenient for you and your customers.
Plus, having a website to refer customers to lends a more professional feel to your business.
You can also look into creating your own app so your customers just need their smartphones to order and schedule delivery.
However, setting these up takes some design skills and investment that you might not currently have. It could always come later though, as you grow your business.
How Much Can You Earn Through Grocery Shopping?
If you choose to be a personal grocery shopper through a grocery delivery company, your pay is normally for a set amount per grocery run, plus the tips from your clients.
This set amount varies per site, but it’s widely reported that you can get as much as $25 per order.
How Can I Earn More?
Depending on the company you work for, clients can pay you tips and you get to keep up to 100%.
Here are some things you can do to increase your tips from your clients.
- Be mindful when shopping. Select the best produce, pick out canned goods with no dents, and carefully check the expiration dates.
- Be respectful of your clients’ time. Make every effort to deliver their groceries on time.
- Be pleasant. Keep a smile on your face when shopping, especially when you’re at a grocery store you’ll be frequenting. You may need the employees’ help to find the freshest goods and the best deals. Most of all, smile when delivering the groceries to your clients.
- Be available. You can work any time you want but bear in mind that the busiest times are weekday afternoons and weekends. You’ll want to be available to clients during those times.
If you ‘re doing this on your own, take note that some grocery shoppers charge per hour, but most charge a fee based on the total size of the grocery bill. This can either be a percentage of the final bill, or a flat rate based on different pricing tiers.
Either way, you’re looking at around $20 per grocery order of $100 to $200, on average. You don’t want to charge too much, but you want enough to at least cover your costs and make it worth your time and effort.
Keep in mind that you have to figure in mileage, car insurance, and any extra errand services you might offer, like unpacking the groceries for the client.
Become a Personal Grocery Shopper Today!
Whether you’re going to work as a personal grocery shopper for delivery companies or starting your own grocery shopping business, it is a potentially lucrative endeavor for the right person.
Hopefully, this article helped you get an idea of whether personal grocery shopping is for you.