How to be a personal shopper

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Rachel Smith is a personal shopper in an exclusive department store. She trained as a beauty therapist, and worked abroad before finding her 'dream job' advertised on a website.

How would you outline your role as a personal shopper?

I provide a complimentary service – consulting clients on their individual needs, advising them and sourcing items from the store that will best fit their requirements.

What are your main responsibilities?

On average, I have two appointments a day, each one lasting two to three hours. I discuss the client's body shape, colours, lifestyle and requirements. I then either escort them around the store to look for items, or I select a range of items I think will work and return to our private lounge for a viewing. I also advise on jewellery, hair and make-up. In between appointments, I go out onto the shop floor to see if people need advice and assistance.

What hours do you work?

I usually work from 9.30am until 6pm, but on two days I work from 12.30pm until 9pm. I work one and a half weekends each month.

What is your working environment like?

The private lounge where we meet clients and hold consultations is very luxurious, with comfortable seating, private fitting rooms, magazines and refreshments.

What special skills or qualities do you need for your job?

It's important to be discreet. Sometimes our clients are celebrities and their privacy has to be respected. Communication skills are vital. You are meeting all kinds of people and you need the ability to be direct, but tactful at the same time.

What do you like about being a personal shopper?

I love to see someone transformed. A good outfit can give a customer lots of confidence. There is a lot of variety too – sometimes we are asked to theme and arrange dinner parties or style people's homes, so it's not always beauty and fashion. On the negative side, you have to carry armfuls of clothes and other items around the store and the job can be very tiring.

What are the particular challenges in your work?

It can be difficult trying to cater for clients who don't fit into standard sizes. Managing people's expectations can also be hard sometimes.

Rachel's route to becoming a personal shopper

  • GCSEs.
  • Worked as a retail buyer.
  • BTEC National Diploma in Beauty Therapy.

Rachel's personal shopper tips

  • Make sure you help other team members.
  • Be committed to the role.
  • Always be friendly and approachable.

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Personal shopper salary information

  • Starting salaries range from £15,000 to £22,000, depending on the size of the organisation and level of performance.
  • Experienced personal shoppers can earn up to £30,000 or more.

How to be a personal shopper

  • There are no formal academic requirements, but a background in fashion and retail is very useful.
  • Employers also look for industrial/commercial awareness, which can come from work experience.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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