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Buyer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

A Buyer, or Senior Buyer, is responsible for sourcing and choosing products for sale in retail businesses. Their duties include researching their target market, analysing sales data and building relationships with suppliers. Buyers often have significant industry experience that enable them to identify gaps in the market and predict buying trends.

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Buyer duties and responsibilities

Depending on the size of their employer, buyers can be responsible for the whole process of researching and purchasing products, or they may specialise in just one area of the process. Their main responsibilities include:

  • Collecting and analysing data to help predict trends and forecast sales figures
  • Researching new markets, products and manufacturing processes
  • Identifying quality standards and ensuring that all products meet those standards
  • Collating customer feedback
  • Negotiating with suppliers to agree prices, quantities, delivery schedules and exclusivity deals
  • Working with inventory management team to ensure that all deliveries satisfy the assigned purchase orders and report any back-ordered or missing products
  • Delivering reports on sales data, marketing activity and other metrics to the senior management team and other stakeholders
  • Conducting competitor research
  • Adapting product offering based on customer feedback and behaviour
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What does a Buyer do?

Buyers are responsible for selecting the types of products to be sold on the shelves of shops, online and in other retail environments. They seek out suitable products, plan seasonal changes between lines and identify gaps in the market that can be filled with the items they choose. They also conduct in-depth research to ascertain what their customers will want to buy and negotiate with suppliers to purchase bulk quantities for resale. Some buyers are responsible for sourcing parts or materials which are then used to fabricate items or combined to sell on to customers.

Buyer skills and qualifications

Industry knowledge can be advantageous for buyers in some sectors, but a successful Buyer candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications that include:

  • Excellent communication skills to help negotiations and ensure that expectations are clear
  • Relationship building and networking skills
  • Financial and accounting knowledge for calculating margins, gross profit and discounts
  • Knowledge of fabrication and manufacturing techniques
  • An understanding of supply chain management and logistics
  • Excellent computer skills and knowledge of spreadsheets, presentation software and other stock management software and systems
  • Excellent attention to detail and high standards for quality control

Buyer experience requirements

Assistant, or Junior Buyers may not have buying experience, but can get trained on the job to learn about the market, trends and typical customer behaviour. Senior Buyers will usually be expected to have some experience working in retail purchasing and have a more detailed understanding of the industry, in order to select products that are going to be popular with customers. Experience of working in a retail position, or with customer service, or any role that requires negotiation, is an advantage.

Buyer education and training requirements

Assistant Buyers may be able to secure entry-levels jobs with minimal education or training requirements, but will need GCSEs or A-levels to demonstrate an acceptable level of numeracy and literacy. For higher-level positions, such as Senior Buyer roles, candidates typically need a degree in business, accounting or marketing. Specific qualifications that relate to the buying process are helpful, such as certification in Understanding Retail Operations or a Diploma in Fashion Retail or Retail Skills that cover a number of important aspects of the purchasing process.

Buyer Salary Expectations

According to Indeed Salaries, the average salary for a Buyer is £31,766 per year. This will depend on their level of seniority, the sector in which they work and the area of the country in which the job is based.

Job description samples for similar positions

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Buyer job description FAQs

What are the different types of Buyer?

Buyers can have different roles depending on the industry that they work in. Some Buyers work on a wholesale basis, whereas others work in the retail sector selecting products to sell through a number of different outlets. Other industries have specialist buyers such as Agricultural Machinery Buyers, Office Supply, Stationery Buyers and Industrial Goods Buyers who need more specialist knowledge and experience to succeed.

Who does a Buyer report to?

Depending on the nature of the business, Buyers may report to a Senior Buyer, a Purchasing Manager or a Procurement Manager. Some work directly with the teams they buy for and therefore report to the specific manager for their department such as the Women’s Apparel Manager or Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) Manager. Senior Buyers may report to the Operations Director or Managing Director.

What qualities make a good Buyer?

Buyers need to be patient and able to remain calm under pressure as they negotiate contracts. They need to be personable and able to build and maintain strong relationships with their network of suppliers. Buyers typically spend some time visiting manufacturing plants and inspecting suppliers’ working environments, so they need to be willing to travel.

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