The personal shopper career is something that I have known about for a long time. It is actually an honourable profession in Los Angeles where I used to live, and a decent living can be made from it if one knows what they are doing. I have never had a personal shopper, but I had hoped in the past that I would be in a position where it would benefit me and be a thing that was not a waste of time and effort.

Instacart has made both of these things a reality.

service can make us both smile

The primary reason that I decided to try the Instacart thing was, in fact, some well-designed advertising.


So here was how the effect worked. I saw the ad, thought it was cute and enjoyable. I also thought, "I'm never going to need that, but it's nice if you live in a big city. I don't really live in a big city, but I might at some point."

As is obvious, I am a developer, and I am working on at least three projects at any given time, one of them being the one that I am actually being paid for. It's essentially like working two full-time jobs, and my brain is being ground to sawdust most of the time. It has become the purpose of my existence, and although I am enjoying that, I don't like having to run to the store, usually in the middle of a train of thought I have, so all of that goes to the store with me, at which point I go into "hey, look, a cat!" mode and forget it all. Then it takes about three or four days before the thought comes back to me.

Very frustrating.

So when I saw a blurb that said the Instacart service was in the area I am staying in for the moment, it was a no-brainer. I had to try it out.

This is actually the primary purpose of a personal shopper for those of you that are unfamiliar and think the people behind this are simply go-fers. A shopper is more than that. They are your face and hands out there in the store so you don't have to. And sure, you can always go to the store if you want to, it is a free country for the most part, but honestly, I am very pleased with my Instacart experience, and yes, I know how much I paid for it, and I plan on doing it again.

Essentially, you are adding another member to your team, and they have just handled a critical component of your life (garnering the very things that help you to exist) so that you can focus on the things that you are good at, and in my case, saving me the hours I waste wandering around the store and impulse buying.

shoppers help you think

One thing that I realised after this experience was that sometimes I am not clear enough on what I want, and I also sometimes don't think things all the way through. Purchasing groceries this way achieves both. The communication from the app and on my phone was very useful and I found the entire exchange helpful. While this was a day in which I could have done the shopping, knowing when it was coming, and what was coming were both calming and helped me focus on other things. I would not have had that nudge ahead otherwise.

I remember when I lived in LA that only the wealthy and the star class had personal shoppers. At least that was the initial impression that I held in my mind until I made more friends in the entertainment industry. Then I began to realise as I met more and more two-income families that this would be the mode of the day if there was not an au pair or a nanny to handle such duties. It was not simply the wealthy that had them, and not just anyone could be a shopper. There had to be care, talent, and attention to detail. I came very close to becoming a personal shopper once myself, as a matter of fact.

In this experience, there were several things that did not go quite as planned, items that were listed on the website but not actually in the store. So you will want to be available when your shopper is doing their thing the first time in case they need to replace or exchange something on your list. That occurred to me on four of my items, and my shopper was right on target with everything that she did. The one thing I was not pleased with had nothing to do with her, and I don't think she would have been able to do anything about it. So I'm irritated with the store, not my shopper.

evaluate your costs

I understand some of the misgivings on this. The calculation will come down to your math regarding your time and money, as well as the ability to even get to the store. The products are usually only slightly higher, as in a matter of pennies, and in a case or two were actually cheaper online. The service fee for my sale was minimal, and to pay $100 a year for this service is less than $9 a month. Sure, I tipped my shopper the max, but she has to drive her vehicle, she is dedicating her time, and expending her energy to bring me my food. She deserves the max I can give her. So they default the tip to 5% of the sale.

Don't be a dick. Max that sucker out if you can. The shopper gets 100% of the tip.

In my case, that was around $30, and to be honest, it was worth it to not have to think about groceries for two weeks. Instead, I am getting to spend that time doing things like practising coding and writing this blog instead of having to wonder if they have my chips in stock, and where did they move my yoghurt?

I certainly can see where I gain in this exchange, and it will become something I tuck into my personal arsenal to become more productive. It will also keep me honest on my eating because what I have is what I ordered, and I find it much easier to order fruits and vegetables (what I should be eating) than to pick them up myself where they are situated near the beer and doughnuts.

You try. Your mileage might vary, but I think you will find it easier as well.

Note: I fully blame Tammy at Organize Yourself Skinny for being the deciding factor of me trying this. Check her out.