Retail Buyers are mainly in charge of planning, selecting, and buying merchandise for a retail establishment’s resale purposes and are usually responsible for the merchandising operations of these establishments. Depending on the business they work in, Retail Buyers may specialize in purchasing different items (e.g. clothing, home appliances, or food) and can be divided into Supervisors and Assistant Buyers.
There are more intricacies to being a Retail Buyer than just purchasing items for later resale. Good professionals in this position must be able to anticipate the necessities of their customers, they need to establish healthy and lasting liaisons with providers, and ensure that the merchandise they’re purchasing has the quality that the final customer expects. Retail Buyers must also be able to foresee new trends, especially in the fields of fashion, technology, and electronics, as new items and models are released constantly.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Retail Buyers are required to complete.
- Planning, choosing, and purchasing merchandise for resale purposes by retail establishments:
- Keeping and accurate stock record in order to purchase what is necessary for later resale;
- going through catalogs in order to select the best merchandise to purchase;
- working within the established budget;
- locating, selecting, and procuring merchandise for resale;
- monitoring the shipping of merchandise to stores;
- determining contract terms and conditions;
- modifying purchase orders according to seasonality, availability, and demand; and
- solving any problems that may arise with the merchandise and/or supplier.
- Following and analyzing market trends, studies, and liaising with suppliers and other vendors to ensure quality of products:
- Analyzing market research and trends to determine consumer demand and potential sales volumes;
- carrying out research and evaluating sales numbers as well as following the activities of competitors;
- introducing new products when they become available;
- keeping up-to-date on the latest Marketing and industry trends; and
- following current trends and anticipating changes in the market.
- Studying the market and anticipating the performance of new products before launching:
- Using data collected in order to analyze and understand the needs and necessities of consumers and how they can be satisfied;
- liaising with suppliers in order to receive notice of new products;
- checking product samples; and
- requesting approval by Senior Managers before launching new products.
- Liaising with vendors and suppliers:
- Meeting with suppliers and vendors in order to discuss purchases, special discounts, and other contracts;
- visiting factories;
- inspecting the quality of the purchased product and reporting any defects to the suppliers; and
- building a network of vendors and suppliers.
- Coordinating with other franchises to ensure that all store sell the same products:
- Liaising with the Sales Department in order to decide if a product should be discontinued.
- Carrying out administrative duties:
- Reviewing quotations; and
- communicating with the shipping companies and customs for shipping terms, lead time, and payment methods.
- Planning, choosing, and purchasing merchandise for resale purposes.
- Evaluating the profitability of products and suppliers.
- Attending showcases, seminars, and expositions to learn about new and upcoming products.
- Keeping record of defective products in order to contact suppliers and ensure that quality standards are kept.
The average Retail Buyer salary is $45,692 per year or $23 per hour. This is around 1.4 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $32,000 while most experienced workers make up to $64,000. These results are based on 36 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Exceptional communication and interpersonal skills:
- Communicating clearly, both in writing and verbally, in order to create a clear and communicative environment and negotiate with customers and suppliers, as well as with other Retail Buyers; and
- listening carefully and understanding customers’ product requirements.
- Strong math skills:
- Being able to balance the cost of purchasing with the revenues after sales of each product.
- Outstanding negotiating abilities:
- Being able to negotiate the terms and conditions of contracts with both suppliers and retail establishments.
- Being resourceful, energetic, and displaying a strong desire to take initiative.
- Strong organizational, operational, and planning skills in a sales-focused environment:
- Multitasking; being able to work in a dynamic, fast-paced environment; and
- being proactive and able to work under pressure while handling tight deadlines.
- Analytical, problem-solving, and decision-making skills:
- Identifying issues and resolving problems in a timely manner;
- analyzing all types of quantitative and qualitative data; and
- being able to make prompt decisions on what products to sell, as well as when selecting suppliers.
- Great attention to detail:
- Being able to inspect the quality of the purchased products.
The educational requirements for Retail Buyers may vary from one employer to the other, but most of them converge in looking for candidates with a degree in Business or any other related field. Furthermore, employers look for sociable, outgoing, and dynamic candidates since part of this job is dealing directly with suppliers, creating good contacts, and determining future trends and sales. Retail Buyers should also have sound business and commercial awareness; merchandising management knowledge in order to satisfy the market’s demand; and they require a deep understanding of the specialty they’re working with in order to foresee new trends.
Rookie Retail Buyers often start in Junior positions with the possibility of advancing on in their careers towards Assistant Buyers and eventually Senior Buyers. As in most business related further studies are greatly encouraged as they can help prospects move upwards in their career paths.