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.
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