Independent personal shoppers vs. free in-store shoppers

20 Jul 2017 | Shopping | 0 comments

There’s an upward trend where trendy stores offer free Personal Shopper services to their customers. In fact, our very own Stefanie Nothard was poached from used to work as the in-house personal shopper at Stuttafords – easily one of the most coveted jobs in Sandton at the time. No doubt part of a store’s customer satisfaction and loyalty strategy, we’re taking a look at why anyone would want to hire and pay independent personal shoppers when they can just use in-store services for free.

Why hire an independent shopper when some shops offer them for free?

Limited Choices

First there are the limitations that in-store personal shoppers face. Stefanie says she often felt restricted – even with the large selection of brands Stuttafords had to offer – to really set her imagination free when it came to creating a full capsule wardrobe for her customers. The fact is, in-store personal shoppers are limited to what is in their store.

Sales Commission

Second, in-store personal shoppers work on commission. Yes, they are sales associates with a more glamorous title, and at the end of the day, it pays them to have you buy as much from their store as they can get you to. They find out your size and price range, and then gather as much as they can for you to try on, tell you that you look fabulous, and then sell it to you. Want objective, honest advice? If that’s what you’re after, rather hire an independent personal shopper who has no affiliation with any store. Independent personal shoppers have to keep your best interests in mind, or risk losing you as a client. Their objective is not to sell as much to you as possible, but to optimise your look and get you feeling confident and stylish within your specified budget.

Long-term Style Strategy

Your own Personal Shopper is your own Stylist who works for you to discover your unique style profile through a process of getting to know what you already have in your wardrobe, assess your needs, help you weed through your closet and show you ways to amplify your style. Your stylist is a coach that is there for you alone, not tied to any one store, and can rework your closet seasonally within your budget so that eventually you have a perfect collection designed for you. In-store shoppers on the other hand, have never been into your home or your wardrobe. Not knowing your history, they don’t know enough about you to advise correctly on possible fashion disasters!


Ok, so here’s a factor where in-store personal shoppers have the edge. They’re there, you’re there. Bingo, let’s go. Your independent personal shopper needs to be carefully selected to make sure you’re a right fit personality-wise. You need to be confident that your personal shopper understands you completely before you hit the shops. That’s why there’s a bit more “process” involved where you’ll have a consultation where you will be interviewed to establish your style profile: who you are now, and where you want to be. Your personal shopper will then figure out a tailor-made strategy for you in keeping with your budget and this could include style advice, and entire image make-over and a total wardrobe overhaul. It’s a longer-term solution, requiring a bit more effort.


This is really important if you want someone who understands fashion for real people. When an independent personal shopper has been in business for several years, they’ve come across all sorts of body-types, weights, heights, quirks and insecurities. Styling someone is a process which requires immeasurable tact and empathy, lack of judgement and warmth. We often say, a person’s style has deep psychological roots, influenced by almost every part of their life. An experienced personal shopper is worth their weight in gold and department stores in South Africa will never pay a professional salary. That’s why most in-store personal shoppers are very young, inexperienced and often not equipped to deal with a person’s insecurities or body ‘issues’.


Department stores free personal shoppers


As fashion bloggers are fast becoming the biggest influencers in the industry, retailers try hard to tap into the culture of young, fast-fashion but we think the trick they’re missing is the element of trust. Personal connection that is real, and reliable and that’s what ultimately the relationship with your own personal shopper is all about.


Established in 2007, Vogue Fox was the first personal shopping agency to open in South Africa. With internationally trained personal shoppers, we have teams in Cape Town and Johannesburg. To start your perfect style journey, give us a call.

Cape Town: 073 032 1212 | Johannesburg: 082 583 9596