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Grocery shopping is probably at the top of the list for most people’s most dreaded tasks. If it’s something you get paid to do, though, it might not be so bad.
That’s exactly why some people who crave a flexible schedule outside of the traditional 9 to 5 job are creating their own personal grocery shopping businesses.
They get to shop for others, purchasing items from an already-planned list, and they don’t need to spend a dime of their own. Plus, they get money for their time spent shopping.
It sounds like a dream, but it’s a legitimate business opportunity that you can build yourself or enlist the help of personal grocery shopping services to grow your business. Here’s how to get started as a personal grocery shopper.
What is Personal Grocery Shopping?
People sometimes confuse personal grocery shopping with personal food delivery. Delivery services are just that: You get paid to deliver food from the grocery store or restaurant. Someone else already got the order together, so you’re only responsible for delivering it to the customer.
Personal grocery shopping requires you to both shop for, and deliver, the items your customer needs. Usually, a customer will give you a specific list of what to buy, including quantity and desired brand names, if necessary, and you’ll go to the store to find them. After completing the purchase with the customer’s money, you’ll deliver it.
Think of personal grocery shopping like a full-service delivery service where customers never have to leave their homes to head to the grocery store. This type of service is invaluable for busy families, people with disabilities and special needs, and the elderly, but anyone can use it for its sheer convenience.
How Much Can I Expect to Make as a Personal Grocery Shopper?
Depending on the route in which you take your business, your salary as a personal grocery shopper could vary significantly from others with the same gig. You’re likelier to make more if you work for yourself with your own client base than you would using a delivery service to find customers because they take a cut of your pay.
Other factors that could influence your pay include:
- How much time you have to work each day
- How many clients you have
- Where you live (large cities tend to use this service more than smaller towns)
- How quickly (and accurately) you shop
- Whether you charge per hour or per trip
- How much you spend in expenses
As with any business, there’s a lot that goes into figuring out how much you can earn.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average personal grocery shopper earns about $40,951 per year, which works out to around $20 per hour.
That’s not including expenses, like gas, car wear and tear, car insurance, taxes, and anything else you’ll need to pay for to keep your business running smoothly, so be sure to figure in these costs when setting your rates.
1. Start Your Own Shopping and Delivery Business
Starting a business as a personal grocery shopper gives you the most control over your schedule and pay. It can also be a lot to deal with, so it’s important to consider everything that goes along with running a business before jumping in.
Learning the Legalities
First, the legal side. Running a business will always require you to follow specific rules that govern business stuff, like taxes and local regulations.
As a business owner, you’ll need to check your local/state requirements for filing a business name, running the business from your home, and anything else that will go along with your business. You can check with your local Chamber of Commerce or similar department to find out more.
As a personal grocery shopper, you may not be meeting with customers in your home, but some localities do have regulations for running a business from your home. Since you’ll be keeping track of your earnings and connecting with customers from your home office, your place of business is considered your home.
Leave no stone unturned when it comes to finding out as much as you can about the legal side of running a business in your area, just to make sure nothing unexpected pops up once you’ve hit the ground running.
Paying Business Taxes
Taxes. No one loves them, but they’re a necessary evil whether you have a traditional job or run a business.
When you’re in business for yourself, you’ll be responsible not just for paying income tax, but also self-employment tax, which will likely boost your tax bill. However, you’ll also be eligible for some tax deductions to give you a tax break.
As a personal shopper, you might be eligible for deductions on expenses like your:
- Gas to deliver to clients
- Computer and internet used to connect with clients, track orders, or invoice
- Phone and its bill, if used solely for contacting clients or other business purposes
- Car, if it’s used exclusively for business purposes
- Invoicing software
Most business owners will need to file their taxes quarterly instead of annually, especially if your income varies from month to month or quarter to quarter.
You can learn more on the IRS Small Business and Self-Employed page.
It might seem like a tough gig to find clients for, but personal grocery shopping is a service that’s probably more desirable than you think. Think of all the people who might love a break from grocery shopping to do other things, like:
- People who only get one day off from work each week
- Busy parents who, after work, still have meals to prepare, events to attend, homework to help with, etc.
- Family and friends with loved ones who are in the hospital
- Seniors who have a difficult time getting around to shop
- Other personal grocery shoppers who spend their time helping others with the task
When you think a little outside the box, you’ll have a good idea of where your idea clients spend their time. Try making some flyers and heading to the places where your potential clients frequent, like schools, daycares, office buildings, grocery stores, nursing homes or assisted living buildings, and hospitals.
You can also build a website to showcase your services and make it easy for people to find you online. Place a link to your site in your social media profiles and email signature and be sure to share it on social media occasionally.
Additional Services to Offer
One of the best ways to market yourself as a personal grocery shopper is to make yourself different than anyone else doing it. Offering other services can be an excellent way to set yourself apart. Here are a few ideas for extra services in addition to your shopping trips:
- Putting groceries away
- Organizing cabinets before and after the trip
- Taking inventory of a household’s items
- Creating weekly meal plans and grocery lists for families
- Helping clients plan a grocery budget
- Extra trips through the week for an additional cost
- Rush or weekend trips for an additional cost
Increasing Your Income
When you’re just starting out, it’s probably a good idea to create a simple rate system, like an hourly rate or a flat shopping fee. If most trips take you about two hours from start to finish, you might charge either $25 an hour or $50 flat, with some services for an extra cost.
As you start gaining clients, though, you can boost your income using retainers. These are best for regular clients who will continue to use your services every week or so. Retainers also help ensure that you’re paid for every bit of work you do for the upcoming month.
Say Sarah wants you to complete a shopping trip every week. You set aside a minimum of two hours for each trip at $25 an hour. You could charge Sarah $200 per month ($50 per trip, four trips per month) as a retainer to be paid up front at the beginning of the month.
Some trips may take even less than the two hours you scheduled, which means you’re making more money. You can always offer your retainer clients your extra services to add on, too, and come up with a custom quote for them.
2. Work for Companies That Hire Personal Grocery Shoppers
Online delivery services can help you build your business as a personal grocery shopper but without worrying about the marketing aspect yourself.
You’ll be able to find clients through the company’s platform whenever you’re available for work. You’ll still be an independent contractor (in other words, your own boss!) and can work a flexible schedule, but you won’t be as in control of your earnings. Still, this option can be best for those who don’t have the desire to market themselves.
Amazon Fresh Through Amazon Flex
Amazon Flex drivers can indicate when they sign up as a driver that they’d like to work with Amazon Fresh, which is the company’s grocery delivery service.
Although your earnings will depend on the blocks of time you work and where you live, Amazon says that most drivers earn between $18 and $25 per hour.
You won’t be shopping for customers with Amazon Flex, just delivering by transporting fresh groceries from local warehouses to Amazon Fresh customers. Inventory and packing specialists take care of the shopping aspect.
Click here to see where Amazon currently has openings for Amazon Flex delivery drivers.
Favor is a company that connects “Runners” with shoppers. Runners can do a variety of things for their customers, from running errands around town to taking their clothes to the dry cleaners to delivering groceries or restaurant foods. Favor gives Runners a lot of control over the type of services they provide.
You can use the Favor app to connect to shoppers and see what they need help with. Scheduling is flexible, and you can work either part or full-time. Keep all the tips you make and get paid up to $18 per hour, and even more when you refer your friends.
Instacart is the real deal, offering full personal shopping and delivery services for its customers. Customers can place orders online or through an app and Instacart shoppers will pack them up and deliver them.
Instacart offers two types of gigs: In-store shopper and full-service shopper. In-store shoppers work in stores as an employee to pack up orders, while full-service shoppers are independent contractors who shop and deliver groceries. Both positions offer flexible scheduling, but full-service shopping can give you the most bang for your buck.
Use the smartphone app to find customers to shop for, complete their orders, and get paid weekly!
Postmates is a delivery service for several types of items, and grocery delivery is an option. As a member of the Postmates Fleet, you can use the Postmates app to find people near you who need groceries delivered and help them when you’re available.
Postmates drivers are eligible for bonuses every week and keep all the tips they earn. You can choose to have your money sent to your bank account weekly or get paid instantly once it reaches your Postmates account.
Shipt is similar to Instacart in that customers can use the Shipt app to order groceries and then get them delivered by a Shipt shopper. The company connects to major grocery store chains, like Meijer, Target, and H-E-B.
As a shopper, you can work part-time or full-time on your desired schedule and will become part of a community of other Shipt shoppers who attend events, launches, and more. Shipt shoppers can earn up to $22 per hour and get paid weekly.
WeGoShop is possibly the best service for putting you in control of your personal grocery shopping business, but it will also cost money to get started. The 12-month licensing term is $350, which gives you access to the online ordering platform and website, up to ten claimed locations, and licensing to use the WeGoShop branding as part of your business.
You’ll even get marketing materials as part of your business and can accept all payments directly through your WeGoShop website from your customers.
3. Use Mobile Apps
There are also apps for iOS and Android devices that can help you earn an income shopping for, and delivering, groceries!
Burpy is explicitly meant for people who want to make money as a personal grocery shopper, but it’s mostly done through your mobile device. Customers place orders on grocery websites connected to Burpy. You’ll get the order via the app and can start shopping for everything on their list.
Work when you’re available by signing onto the app and indicating that you’re ready for new orders. Burpy says that you can earn up to $25 an hour.
You’ll need your own, reliable car, a valid license, and you’ll need to be at least 18 years old.
When you sign up for a caregiver position on Care.com, you can indicate that you provide errand-running services. Another option is caring for the elderly, which can encompass anything from errand-running to aide care.
Care.com is selective in its hiring process, but once you’re on board, you can build a client base using the Care.com platform. The mobile app helps you check in with your clients, tweak your profile, and do just about anything else you can do on the website.
TaskRabbit is a mobile app that connects you to people in your neighborhood who need your services. You can do anything from handiwork and contracting to moving and decorating, so just about any service is a good fit here, including grocery shopping and delivery.
The app is currently only available in select locations, but there are several of them scattered across the United States. “Taskers” make their own schedules and can browse available jobs via the app.
4. Use Other Food Delivery Services
You might learn that the shopping aspect of grocery shopping and delivery isn’t what you love most, but you do enjoy delivering groceries to customers. In some cases, you can still make as much as you would as a personal grocery shopper but without the lengthy shopping trips.
If you have less time to spare or want to build your shopping business slowly as a part-time gig, an alternative is to try these food delivery services, which pay up to $25 an hour just for food delivery from restaurants.
Couriers from Caviar can walk, bike, or drive food to their customers and earn up to $25 an hour plus 100% of their tips. There’s even an instant pay feature that sends your earnings directly to your account, which you can withdraw with your Caviar debit card.
Dashing with DoorDash makes you money for food delivery from local restaurants. You must be 18 years old to deliver. DoorDash keeps you covered with auto insurance, but you also might be able to walk or bike to customers, depending on your service area.
GrubHub offers flexible scheduling and lets you keep all your tips from customers you deliver to. You can use your own items for delivery or order some from GrubHub to build your business. There are select locations GrubHub is currently available in the United States, but the company is working on expanding.
Instead of driving people with Uber, you can drive food from restaurants to customers! UberEats lets you create a schedule that works for you and pays you up to five times per day for everything you make on your shifts.
Grocery shopping and delivery can be a lucrative side gig or a full-time business, depending on how much time you have to spare and how you envision it taking part in your life. You can always start small, build a solid client base, and grow from there.
The best part is that there are plenty of delivery services that can help give you a soft launch into the business, expanding as you have more time and clients.
Looking for other side gig ideas? Check out this list of ways to make extra money today, which might give you some inspiration for money-making ideas you haven’t yet thought of.