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 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, so you probably already know what a personal grocery shopper does.
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.
Those who book 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 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 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 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
When it comes to grocery shopping, there are two ways to get started. Either join up with a company that hires personal grocery shoppers for their clients or set up your own business from home. 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.
Joining a personal shopping company
Thanks to the rising demand for personal shoppers, there are a number of companies you can join to kickstart 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 need 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, customer sourcing, and maintaining the technology (i.e., the apps) themselves.
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Here are some grocery delivery companies you can try applying to:
Building 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 still have your vehicle, a smartphone, and a way to pay for the groceries, you can actually start taking on clients.
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.
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.
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.
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, handing out flyers 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.
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.
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 be 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 on weekday afternoons and the weekend. You’ll want to be available to clients during those time
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.
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Setting Up a Successful Business
The key to the success of your personal grocery shopping business lies with convenience. It’s all about making an inconvenient chore as convenient as you possibly can so your clients keep booking your service and even 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 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 full-time job where you’re your own boss.
Are you interested in applying to be a personal grocery shopper? Or do you want to just jump in with two feet and start your own business? Share your story with us in the comments!