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.
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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 as an opportunity to provide a new service.
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 ordinary people.
Here’s what I found.
What is a Personal Grocery Shopper?
The name is pretty self-explanatory, so you probably already know what a secret shopper does.
But just for clarity’s sake, here’s what the job entails.
A personal grocery shopper is paid to buy and deliver groceries.
It’s their job to find out what the client needs, get to the store and 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.
Those who make use of personal grocery shoppers generally fall into one of four categories:
- People who don’t have time left in the day to get to a supermarket and buy groceries for their family.
- 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 for that too.)
- Old or physically challenged people who struggle to or cannot leave their homes unaided.
- People with agoraphobia or severe anxiety disorders who struggle to go outside.
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 at the same time.
I’ve talked a fair amount about flexible jobs on here because that’s sort of a staple for anyone looking set up their own part-time side hustle, but few of them bring you the added satisfaction of helping out someone who really needs it.
How Do You Become a Personal Grocery Shopper
You don’t need massive start-up funds to start your own personal grocery shopping business, just a car and a smartphone.
I’ve heard about plenty of people who started out with not much more than a few hundred bucks in their pocket and turned grocery shopping into a successful side-business.
When it comes to grocery shopping, there are two ways to get started:
Either set up your own business from home or join up with a company that hires personal grocery shoppers for their clients. Both are great options that come with their own perks and limitations, so it depends entirely on what you think would be the best fit for you.
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Starting your own grocery shopping business:
The good news is that you don’t need much to start your own grocery shopping business.
All you really need is a car and a way to pay for the groceries up front, seeing as it’s not likely that people are just going to hand their credit cards over to you.
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.
A website is a much better option than a paper checklist because it’s more convenient for you and your customers, and it looks more professional. However, setting up a good-looking website takes some design skills and investment that you might not have right now.
It could always come later though, as you grow your business.
One thing you should keep in mind, however, is that it’s generally hard to find customers on your own, especially when you’re just starting out.
Marketing will play a big role here. Put as much time into that as you can.
Try setting up different channels through which you can reach people who would want to make use of your new service. It could be things like posting on Facebook groups, handing out flyers at the grocery store, visiting old age homes, and posting your details on notice boards.
Try reaching out in whatever way you think would work in your town or city.
Joining a personal shopping company:
Thanks to the rising demand for personal shoppers, there are a few companies you can join to kick-start your new 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.
To become a personal shopper for companies like Shipt, Postmates, and Instacart, you just have to be over 18, own a car and a phone, and have the ability to lift 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 marketing and customer sourcing themselves.
A personal grocery shopper gig is also a perfect companion job for people who like extreme couponing.
The two can work really well together, and you could 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.
How Much Can You Earn Through Grocery Shopping?
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 – $200, on average. You don’t want to charge too much, but you want enough to make it worth your time and effort.
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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.
Of course, if you decide to join a company instead of starting your own business, then you will have to adhere to their fees and designated clients or locations.
Setting Up a Successful Business
The key to making your personal grocery shopping business successful lies with convenience. It’s all about providing as much convenience as possible so people will keep coming back and refer you to their 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 at no extra cost on their birthday.
There are a lot of ways you can set yourself apart from the competition, which could lead to a profitable full-time job where you’re your own boss.