What is A Personal Grocery Shopper & Is It A Business For You?

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Over the years, we’ve provided a personal grocery shopping service for many of our prepared meal clients. Starting a personal grocery shopping service is a great way to supplement your income because it has low startup costs and is a service that makes your clients’ lives better.

A Personal Grocery Shopper Business is a service business where you do the grocery shopping for your clients and deliver those groceries to your client’s home. You are then reimbursed for the groceries plus a service fee which is your wages.

Keep reading for a deeper dive into what a Personal Grocery Shopper Business is like and what running such a business might look like in your life.

After that, I’ve included our standard table of the general characteristics of this business model which will make it easier for you to compare this business with other home-based food business ideas.

Let’s dig into the details!

A Description of the Personal Grocery Shopper Business Model

The name pretty much gives you the basics. With your own Personal Grocery Shopper Business, you’ll be shopping for your clients’ groceries and delivering them to their homes.

As you look around, you’ll notice that America is becoming more of a ‘delivery’ society every year, and that’s not a trend that’s going to slow down.

Even grocery stores are now offering delivery, so why would your community still need a Personal Grocery Shopper Business?

Because your business could offer a level of service that a grocery store cannot. You’ll get to know your clients and will even be able to stop by multiple stores to meet your customers’ needs.

Other Names For A Personal Grocery Shopper Business Model

Here are some other names people have called this business model:

  • Professional Grocery Shopper
  • Personal Food Shopper
  • Personal Shopper Specializing in Groceries
  • Personal Grocery Delivery Business

If you’ve heard it called something else, be sure to let me know in the comments.

What kinds of people would use a Personal Grocery Shopper?

  • Seniors – This is going to be the largest portion of your clients.
  • Busy Families who just want to save time.
  • Professionals who work long hours.
  • People with special food needs who are overwhelmed.
  • People with diabilities for whom shopping is difficult.
  • Out-Of-Town Vacationers who are visiting for a week or more. You can stock their vacation kitchen when the arrive.

How Do You Get Paid as a Personal Grocery Shopper & How Much Can You Make?

Most personal shoppers get their client’s shopping list and head to the store(s). The oddest part about this business is that you’ll probably be covering the cost of the groceries out of pocket, and then get reimbursed upon delivery.

In addition to presenting the receipts and getting reimbursed, you’ll also get paid for your service at that time.

Most Personal Grocery Shoppers charge between $20 and $40 an hour. Alternatively, you might decide to charge a base of $20 an hour, or 20% of the total spending for the shopping trip, whichever is higher.

You might also want to include a small up-charge for every additional stop beyond the first, perhaps an extra $5 or $10.

Keep in mind that you are going to be driving your own car, and you are not getting reimbursed for your gas or wear and tear on your car. However, if you keep good mileage records, you can deduct your business mileage from your income as a business expense.

Where Will You Find Clients?

Your marketing plan can be as simple as investing in nice business cards and reaching out to places that your potential clients frequent. For example, you might go introduce yourself and leave business cards at:

  • Senior Centers
  • Community Centers
  • Churches
  • Doctor Offices
  • Rehab Offices
  • Airbnb Owners

It is worth noting that there are some larger online businesses that hire independent contractors to be Personal Grocery Shoppers. These are an option, but you’re going to make less per hour. If you’re interested in hearing more about this option, let me know in the comments.

How Will You Schedule Clients?

Given that most of your clients are seniors, you will probably be doing most of your scheduling via phone.

However, a good website would be helpful for your younger clients, more tech-savvy seniors, and out-of-town visitors.

Pros of A Personal Grocery Shopper Business

  • Low start-up cost
  • Low overhead
  • Very flexible work which makes it a nice side hustle that you could even run on the way home from your regular job and on weekends.
  • Longterm relationships with most of your clients who will become friends.

Cons of a Personal Grocery Shopper Business

  • This is not a well-known service, so you’ll be educating your community.
  • Your total earnings are going to be capped by the size of your client base and the hours in a day.
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Personal Grocery Shopper Characteristics

Now I’ll give you a little more details on each of the characteristics of this food lover’s business model. Keep in mind that the goal here isn’t to cover everything you need to know, but to just give you a basic understanding so you can decide if you want to learn more.

If you do want to learn more about this kind of business, let me know in the comments below and I’ll work on getting a more in-depth article published or perhaps even creating a course to walk you through starting a meal prep business.

Cost to Startup A Personal Grocery Shopper Business

The startup costs here are very low. All you really need are some business cards.

You will need reliable transportation, and if you’re going to have to buy a car to start this business you should probably look instead at some of my other work-from-home food business ideas that don’t require a car.

Is This A Full-Time or Side-Hustle Business?

For most people, this is going to be a side-hustle. I guess it could be scaled to a full-time income, but I don’t personally know anyone who has done that.

Income Potential for A Personal Grocery Shopper Business?

Most Personal Grocery Shoppers are going to do this on the side and this has the potential to make you some nice side-cash.

Let’s say that you start out charging $20 an hour. With an average shopping trip taking an hour and a half, you’ll make about $30 per client. If you can combine trips, you can make even more.

If you worked a few nights on the way home from work and made a handful of shopping trips on the weekend, you could pretty quickly be making a few hundred bucks extra each week.

Profit Margin For A Personal Grocery Shopper Business

Your margin on this is great. You have no cost of goods, just the gas, and wear and tear on your car. This is a straight-up service business.

Also keep in mind that business mileage becomes tax-deductible, which can really add up at the end of the year. (P.S. Talk to a tax professional, and I’m not that guy.)

Time To Build Up a New Personal Grocery Shopper Business

This is going to take a little time because you are not only going to be educating people about your specific business but educating them on what a Personal Grocery Shopping Service is and how it works.

Your advantage here is that most of your clients are already used to relying upon services to make their life easier.

That comfort with service providers will make the ‘sale’ much easier.

Likewise, by partnering on marketing with your community’s other service providers, you can reach more potential clients much easier.

How Much Time Does It Take To Run A Personal Grocery Shopper Business?

There’s not a lot of work time that isn’t actually shopping or delivering. In addition, you can schedule your work pretty flexibly as long as you communicate well with your clients and they know what to expect.

Keep in mind that most of the time you can schedule your Personal Grocery Shopper work as you want. And if you are used to shopping with your family, there’s no reason that you can’t work as a family, too.

This makes this business very time friendly.

Complexity to Run A Food Business Like This

This isn’t a very complex business, though it will have some challenges.

First, just getting the shopping list from your clients who might not have email is going to be a challenge. This probably means that you talk on the phone to get their shopping list.

The second challenge is that sometimes items on their shopping list are not going to be available. In these cases, you’ll need to know how they want you to handle the situation.

You might decide that your standard policy is to replace any item with the most similar item. Then you can make your clients aware of the policy, and give them the option of opting to just skip items that are not available.

Will You Need Employees to Run A Grocery Shopping Service?

You will not need employees. As a matter of fact, having employees in this business model would be difficult.

This is a home-based, solo-entrepreneur business model.

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This is a great side-hustle business model that is going to make your clients’ lives better.

You are going to be surprised how quickly you become ‘family’ with your clients.

Services like this allow seniors to stay independent in the homes they love.

You will help families eat at home and have more time together.

You’ll improve the food quality of people for whom shopping is difficult, overwhelming or takes time they don’t have.

For vacationers, you make their trips even better and save them an afternoon shopping in unfamiliar towns and grocery stores.

They will happily pay for your time and service.

And you’ll be making some nice side-cash!


P.S. If you’ve never been self-employed before, I strongly encourage you to take the Business Ready Self-Audit which will help you identify areas you could beefup before starting a business. If you want to be the first to know when I’ve added additional resources to help you start or grow your home-based food business, be sure to signup for my emails. I’d love to get to know you better.


With over 15 years of experience starting, running, and growing home-based food businesses, Stacey is the #1 home-based food business coach in America. Stacey is the author of the Advantage Meals: By The Numbers Book.

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