What is it like being a personal shopper? (Job description)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 16 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Personal shopping is a part of the fashion industry that may be easier to enter regardless of education. For those with an interest in style and customer service, a personal shopper career may be a rewarding route to pursue. It's beneficial to learn about the requirements of a personal shopping role before applying for a role in this position. In this article, we answer, 'What is it like being a personal shopper?', discuss how to become one, what to expect from the role, the skills needed, salary and how to progress your career as a personal shopper.

What is it like being a personal shopper?

If you aspire to work in fashion and help people dress well, it's critical that you learn, 'What is it like being a personal shopper?'. A personal shopper can be a highly rewarding career path that allows you to have full control over your career development. Here's what you can expect if you decide to pursue this path:

Requires self-motivation

Most personal shoppers are self-employed professionals. This means they're responsible for sourcing clients and handling their own taxes. If you aspire to work in this profession, you may start by securing an internship or entry-level role at a clothing retailer. Although this is less common, some clothing brands employ personal shoppers to offer their clients additional services.

Is an active environment

Personal shoppers split their time between working in an office and meeting with clients in stores. Depending on the specific services that they offer, they may also visit clients at home, where they go through their clothes, help them choose the most flattering ones and decide which ones to throw away. Based on what the client already has, they then go shopping together to pick additional pieces of clothing that the client can wear daily, to work or to any special event. Although working in this role is rarely physically demanding, it may involve a lot of walking.

Offers flexibility

Many personal shoppers work irregular hours, including evening and weekends. This allows them to accommodate to their clients' work schedules. Personal shoppers who are self-employed often have full control over their work schedule, which means they can decide how they want to split their time between going to stores and working from their office or from home. For example, they may decide to spend their mornings researching new fashion trends, take a longer lunch break around midday, and then return to work in the afternoon to meet with a client.

Builds interpersonal skills

Personal shoppers who work in fashion mostly work with individual clients, sharing fashion advice and helping them find their unique style. They build and maintain relationships with existing customers, research industry trends and visit stores to learn about new items in stock that they could recommend to clients. They may also have additional responsibilities typical of entrepreneurs and small business owners, such as marketing and promoting their services online. The most successful personal shoppers also spend a substantial amount of time building their personal brand.

Provides significant advantages

Working as a personal shopper has many benefits. It's a highly flexible work that allows you to decide what type of services you'd like to offer to clients. Working in this role allows you to work with different people, which can be an advantage if you have strong customer service skills. It's also a highly versatile role, where there's little workplace routine. Other benefits that you can experience if you decide to pursue this career path include:

  • Instant payment: Personal shoppers charge their one-time clients immediately after providing a service to them. This means that they rarely deal with late payments and have the financial stability that many freelancers and entrepreneurs seek, as long as they have enough clients to work with.

  • No investment requirements: You can become a personal shopper without making any big investments, because your clients would pay for both the products you get for them and your services. Typically, the only thing an aspiring personal shopper pays for is their website and promoting their services to potential clients.

  • No educational requirements: Because professional shoppers build their reputation based on their expertise and the quality of services they provide, clients rarely pay attention to their educational background. Becoming a personal shopper doesn't require you to spend several years working towards a formal degree.

Gives opportunities for growth

Just like any profession, the role of a personal shopper has some challenges. For instance, working for yourself requires you to have at least some knowledge of local tax and business regulations. Because you'd work with people regularly, it's possible that you'd come across difficult clients. Although these challenges exist, many who choose this career see them as a positive chance to practise new skills that set can help to handle any conflicts or misunderstandings at work and get better at self-learning.

What is the average salary of a personal shopper?

Depending on the level and the company or brand you work for, personal shopping salaries pay fairly well. The national average salary for a personal shopper is £35,735 per year. It's possible to increase this figure by working as an experienced self-employed personal shopper or working with prestigious clothing brands. If you're working as a personal shopper in a self-employed or freelance capacity, you may experience instability with income.

Unlike an employee with a set monthly salary, your income depends on the clients you cultivate and on how often they require your services. For example, it's possible that for certain months you have less work and you make less income. If financial consistency is important to you, a full-time position might be a better fit for you.

Related: Why work in retail? 8 reasons retail can be rewarding

What is a personal shopper in the fashion industry?

A personal shopper within the fashion industry works one-on-one with customers to give advice and suggest items that meet their individual needs. It's the responsibility of a personal shopper to educate customers and shoppers about fashion apparel, colours, silhouettes and fits to help them feel and look their best. Typically, a personal shopper works to create an entire wardrobe of clothes for a client or a customer. They source and order these clothes on behalf of the clients and their specific requests.

There are different levels to a personal shopper role. For example, some personal shoppers work at a retail level, whereas others can progress to work within high-end luxury fashion or boutiques. Some experienced personal shoppers choose to work on a self-employed basis, procuring their own clients. There are many options and avenues to take with a personal shopper role.

Qualifications of a personal shopper

To become a personal shopper, education (or experience at the very least) in the fashion industry is fundamental. This depends on the niche industry the personal shopper role is in. For example, luxury and high-end retailers typically look for those with degrees in fashion and styling or with extensive experience in the specific role.

Regardless of role, entry requirements are usually a minimum of A-level grades. There are also specific fashion and retail college courses that would be advantageous and look good on your CV when applying for a personal shopper role. Apprenticeships, internships and work experience are also an option when starting out at an entry level. Research into retailers and organisations that offer these specific opportunities to post-grads and those looking to start out as a personal shopper. These roles may sometimes pay on commission, low-scale or not at all, but they're extremely useful experiences to add to your CV.

Related: How does retail work? (Including definition, types and tips)

What skills and attributes do a personal shopper need?

There are certain skills and attributes needed for a successful personal shopper. These mainly lie within a sales and customer service remit but also include practical fashion knowledge. Some skills needed in a personal shopper role include:

  • exceptional customer service

  • in-depth knowledge of the fashion industry, sizing and fitting

  • patience and the ability to cope well in times of stress

  • attention to detail

  • initiative

  • computer literate

  • ability to sell products and services

  • sensitivity and compassion with clients

Related: Highest paying retail jobs UK (with salaries and duties)

What is the career path and progression of a personal shopper?

There are many opportunities for progression as a personal shopper. If you choose to work for yourself, you can set your own rates and fees, meaning there is no cap on the income you could make. There is also the possibility of becoming a personal shopping manager within larger stores or companies. This means you're in charge of a team of personal shoppers and their daily operations. A personal shopper also can move into other roles, such as fashion buying and merchandising.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's‌‌ experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

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