A professional shopper may be the ultimate dream job for someone who enjoys shopping, but the customer's needs and deadlines must always be considered and the work is often not very steady. However, individuals with a mature, communicative attitude willing to persevere as a professional shopper may find ongoing work in the profession. The main task of professional shoppers is to locate desired or needed items the client asks for — usually within an agreed upon time frame.
For example, a professional shopper who works for a corporate event planner may be asked to purchase everything needed for one event. The planner can often save time hunting down every last party favor, gift and candlestick by hiring a professional shopper to find everything before giving his or her final approval to have the shopper purchase the items. Since the event will have a set date, the project will have deadlines in which to have everything purchased and the shopper must adhere to an exact deadline in most cases. Corporate professional shoppers may work directly with the customer service departments of corporations and have buying gifts for clients as their main task. Corporate professional shoppers must be able to find tasteful gifts the clients will appreciate and stay within the corporation's budget.
Individuals also hire professional shoppers and these may be busy executives, wealthier families or elderly individuals. This type of professional shopper must understand his or her client's needs, desires and tastes when it comes to clothing, food, gifts or whatever items he or she is instructed to buy. Professional shopper jobs like this may be ongoing and the shopper may be responsible for stocking the home with groceries and keeping track of items that are running out and then replacing them. Initial meetings about food preferences, budgets and people on a gift list are usually required.
Organizing his or her time is something a professional shopper must do with every shopping job since the less time and transportation costs the shopping takes, the more money a shopper makes. Planning ahead and taking time to understand the client's values and expectations can save returning items which takes further time and transportation. Since customers can usually order online through the Internet themselves, most professional shoppers shop in person at local stores, so a personal shopper may spend a lot of time driving.
Driving is also usually required in mystery shopping jobs. There are legitimate mystery shopping companies that hire mystery or secret professional shoppers to shop and report on their client's store service and other qualities. Caution is needed when pursuing secret or mystery shopper jobs since there are many scam companies out there. Those interested in shopping in many different retail businesses to provide written reports on their experiences should contact the professional organization Mystery Shopping Provider's Association (MSPA) rather than replying to an ad for a mystery professional shopper that may be a scam.