If you don't like shopping you'll want to hire a personal shopper, and if you love to go shopping, the perfect career job for you is to be one. Either way, this is a role you may want to know about!
[Wanting to start a personal shopper business?]
Whether they mention it or not, most grocery shopping sites offer a personal shopper who selects your groceries off the shelves and packs and delivers them. If you have difficulty getting out, or hate to shop, why not find out how much such a service costs, and then check around among your friends to find out if any of them would do it for a bit less. You could go to the grocery's online shopping site to prepare your list (then you'll know the prices of the items ahead of time too), and give your list to your personal shopper.
(Naturally, this applies to other shopping areas too).
If you handle this wisely it might mean some savings for you. On the other hand, you might end up paying a bit more, but getting much better shopping out of the expense than if you did it yourself.
There are lots of women (some men too) who love shopping, and would easily be able to manage a cart for you, while they do their own grocery shopping. - How do you know if it's possible until you ask around?
If you would like to have some shopping done in one store, and another category of items in a different store, you could even line up more than one personal shopper. This person for that store, and that shopper for another store. (Oh for a couple of sensible, trustworthy daughters to send, eh?)
In thinking over what I would expect from a shopper I would hire I see some rules I would apply. These may seem too fussy to you, but if you are feeling cautious, you might want to consider applying some of these guides.
Interview and check References - Because just anyone can call herself a personal shopper, I would like to make sure I have someone trustworthy, and that his or her tastes match mine. Or, that the shopper can adapt to my tastes. I know I could be lied to and fooled, but I would like my intuition to help me screen who I would accept, so I would insist on an interview in a casual setting such as my home or office. I would dig with questions, for a sense of the character of this person, not just an advertising spiel about how great his or her services will be. I would ask for, and call the references, and probe for how honest and reliable this personal shopper is in other areas of life.
Any questions? Just ASK!
Remember, we're trusting this person to spend our money for us and make purchasing decisions in our name. We may not always be able to undo mistakes afterwards. I have friends who brag that they love to shop, but right now I know of only one that I would trust to choose gifts for my giving. She has always given me (and others) very unique, very suitable gifts for the recipient, and yet knows how to find good bargains. And she is absolutely trustworthy!
Determine in advance too, what the financial arrangements will be. (If you were to hire a poor person like me, I'd need to ask for the funds ahead of time to do the shopping). But that is not so smart in most situations. Your shopper needs to be able to cover the expenses on his or her own account, and then you should only reimburse those purchases and the fee of the shopper. Unless, you are prepared to hand over a charge card for the shopper to use.
Discuss and Plan the Shopping Expedition - I would make sure I talk over the shopping assignment with my personal shopper before she goes out to do it. Once I get to know and trust her discernment that may not take so long, but I would take time for thorough discussion at the beginning of our relationship. As far as you or I know what we want and where it could be found, we want to give good, clear instructions. We might say, "try this store first, and if not there, try this one next,..." and so on. Or, we might ask this shopper where she would recommend going. She may in fact, have much better connections and shopping leads. You may start out with one idea, and discover that hers are much better. However, discussing that first goes over much better than if she brings you surprises that are way off from what you were expecting. You may resent her decisions then!
Do some Online Shopping Together - If you are weak or timid about shopping online, you might find that investing an hour or two in doing some online shopping together with a person who is quite savvy online, you will learn to do a lot of your own shopping online, and not need to hire a personal shopper that often. Sometimes it will help you both to determine that the best place to go for a certain item is still in a local store, and you could still send the personal shopper, but you will both know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it's the very best move to make. (I do this a lot of the time for myself).
At the very least, even if you hire the personal shopper to do all your shopping online, you will have a better sense of how thorough or efficient she is at finding the right purchases for you. A really talented and experienced online shopper could - with flying fingers - get a lot of shopping done for you right on the computer, and if you are too busy with your work, etc., even receive the purchases for you when they are delivered. But all of that need only take minutes here and there for that shopper. - Hey, you may learn to love and trust her more than your hairdresser!
Keep Good Records - I highly recommend starting a new journal or notebook in which you keep track of all exchanges with your personal shopper. File receipts with this too, so that you know what's coming and and what's going out, and what it is costing you. Sometimes months or even years later, a problem may come up, and your records will determine how it is resolved. Think of warranties on some purchase, etc.
Let's note that, when you order from some stores, whether online, by phone or mail, your purchases are often picked and packed in the store or warehouse by someone who may go by the title, personal shopper. So you may have contact with them even if you don't see them.
Someone you know? - Check first among those people you already know, or ask friends for leads. That will give you an edge in knowing whether you can trust them or not. You may even want to train a bright young person so they will do it your way. You will just have to invest some time then in helping them to know how you want your shopping done.
Search online - Any truly savvy personal shopper in this day and digital age, should have a website. Not all will have as professional and helpful website as they could have, but that will give you a place to evaluate the prospective shopper's background, skills, and areas of expertise. They may have testimonials of other clients there. Google can help narrow your search down to those in your area, or if you want to shop - say, across the continent in a big city, you could specify that you are looking for a personal shopper in that city.
There may be other places where you find posters or ads from potential shoppers for your needs, but these two avenues would be the best, and should soon give you a list of several to contact and then to inteview.