When shopping, customers can choose from a range of retailers, products and prices. As this can make shopping time-consuming, some people might choose to hire professional shoppers to make purchases on their behalf, based on specific or general requests. If you’re considering becoming a professional shopper, knowing more about what the job entails can help you prepare to become one. What Does a Professional Shopper Do?
What does a professional shopper do?
The answer to the question ‘What does a professional shopper do’ is that they shop for things on behalf of other people. Sometimes they seek specific brands or items according to a client’s list, such as items off a grocery list. At other times, they’re entrusted to make shopping choices on a client’s behalf, so long as it meets their general requirements. This can include selecting clothing for someone wanting corporate outfits. Some shoppers purchase the same items for recurring clients. Others take on one-time projects and make purchases for single events or occasions.
Professional shoppers typically visit multiple stores to locate good quality or well-priced items. They might negotiate with retailers or suppliers to get the best possible offer. If they’re looking for an unusual item, they might contact their personal network of industry contacts for help. They typically manage the purchasing process from start to finish. This includes arranging the delivery and installation of a product. They might also generate a range of suitable items that clients can purchase in their own time. This is common for clients who are seeking a range of options to choose from.
Where do professional shoppers work?
Professional shoppers are typically self-employed or work for other organisations. Self-employed shoppers can offer a more personalised service to clients wanting one-on-one attention and meet them at their homes or offices. They use their past education or experiences to provide a unique shopping service. For example, a professional art shopper can have an art degree and experience working in art galleries. This can help them advise clients on purchasing artwork that meets their tastes and can become valuable in the future.
These professionals can also work in or for corporations. Some shoppers help corporate clients buy suitable gifts for investors or partners. Others take on a business’s entire buying responsibilities, making mass product purchases according to trends and future demand. For example, a kitchen decor retailer might hire a shopper to advise them on what tap fixtures customers want next season. A less common type of professional shopper is one that makes purchases from a specific business as a secret shopper.
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Beneficial skills for professional shoppers
Here are some skills that can make being a professional shopper easier:
Education required for professional shopping jobs
There are no specific educational requirements to become a professional shopper. You can gain an educational background in a specific field if you want to become a certain type of professional shopper. For example, a qualification in retail buying, management or merchandising can prepare you to become a retail buyer for a business. A qualification involving strategic procurement or sourcing can prepare you to become a corporate product or services buyer.
If you work for a company as a buyer, your education might involve on-the-job training and working under senior employees. Companies typically have unique procurement practices, which can make practical training and education a more beneficial option compared to a formal qualification.
How to become a professional shopper
Here are five steps you can follow if you are interested in becoming a professional shopper:
1. Find your niche
Your skills and background can help you decide on the area or industry you would like to work in as a professional shopper. If you aren’t sure which niche to focus on, explore your neighbourhood to see if a particular service is lacking. For example, you might find that you can help parents at a local school by offering a stationery and textbook shopping service for their children.
2. Gain practical skills for the role
While specific qualifications or experience can prepare you for certain professional shopping jobs, some general skills can improve your chances of finding employment or make your job easier. A driver’s licence can equip you to drive long distances to stores or clients. Familiarising yourself with invoicing software can help you manage your incoming and outgoing money, while inventory management software can help you keep track of repeat clients or their purchases.
3. Look for opportunities to gain experience
To start your career as a professional shopper, look for advertised opportunities online or speak to recruiters who specialise in placing professional shoppers. Contact experienced professional shoppers operating in the niche you’d like to work in as an internal or junior employee. If you want to offer a new type of shopping service, ask friends or acquaintances to try your service or recommend it to others.