Many groups do not find it as easy to get around and do things in Zimbabwe as others for varying reasons. Add to that that Zimbabwe can sometimes be a shopping nightmare and you have yourself the makings of a good business opportunity. That opportunity is in the personal shopping business. Of course, businesses aren’t built on problems and harping on about the many problems that devil specific groups in Zimbabwe is not what makes the business. It’s the solution provided and the system through which that system is delivered that matters.
Personal shopping is not as complicated a business as it sounds. You are literally as the name suggests a buyer for someone. However, not all personal shoppers are created equal and it is a matter of degree and extent as to how far you will go. Firstly you can be a personal shopper for basic household items or more complex things like gadgets and clothing. Secondly, you can operate with a setlist of things from a client or you can study the client and make some buying decisions for them. Which way you choose to operate depends on the product and people you are dealing with.
What you will see a lot of today thanks to the advent of technology are shoppers who communicate live as they shop through videos or images of products and get feedback from customers. If you have ever had to do this you are halfway to knowing what the personal shopping business is all about. The other issue you will have to tackle is how you make money. You can charge a per hour rate for time spent but the problem with this is a lot of time outside “facetime” is spent on the business and will not reward you accordingly. You can also consider charging a percentage of the invoice which is accepted practice in Zimbabwe already.
The most important skills for a personal shopper to possess are buying, networking, researching and negotiation skills.
Not all buys are created equal and therefore not all buyers are created equal. A good buyer is on top of the game in terms of information and the availability of products. A good buyer will also think in terms of solutions rather than products. Ultimately your customer has a problem they are trying to solve and the ability to recommend a better solution for their goals if one exists is invaluable.
Networking skills are also big on the list. Let’s be real about the environment we live in. We do not have widespread online access to products and getting your hands on things for your clients will involve dealing with people. The better you are with people and networking the better you are at finding the best deals available.
Research skills come before the client requests anything before the order is made. Staying abreast with what is available and what is new is important to a personal shopper.
There are two parts to this. The first is bleedingly obvious while the second is not so and yet much more important than the first.
Who is the target market?
In many cases, elderly people will be your preferred clients. In most areas, they are the group who most requires personal shopping services. This group is also likelier to enjoy personal interaction and will be friendly when you meet face to face. In Zimbabwe, you also have the case of the diaspora to think about. Many people in the diaspora are supporting family members in Zimbabwe and would appreciate someone who can facilitate this for them.
The all-important thing is how you will get customers. This is also tied into how you will make money depending on how you charge you may also have arrangements where the money is forwarded to you pre-transaction or paid to you after the transaction. Either way, someone is extending someone a lot of trusts. While you receiving money pre-transaction is preferable you will require them to trust you first. So your marketing messages should have this in mind. Anything that allows people to trust you should be front and centre including money-back guarantees. The rest is finding your clientele and that’s really about marketing where they are looking.
Because the business relies on trust one of your best sources of business will be referrals from happy customers. So it is important to first have happy customers and to secondly incentivise them to refer people.