A buyer (also known in some companies as the purchasing manager) is probably the most crucial role in all of the retail industry. This person is in charge of inventory of the items to sell. Note that this is different from a purchasing agent, who, in larger corporations, is in charge of buying items for company use, like uniforms or cash registers. Smaller companies do not have a separate purchasing agent, so the buyer may take over this role.
Stores will have certain items or brands that they keep in stock at all times, and if you are the buyer, you’ll be in charge of making sure that your warehouse never runs out. You’ll also be in charge of shipping items from the warehouse to the store so that shelves are always fully stocked. This can be tricky at high traffic times like Black Friday.
Buyers will also be in charge of checking out new products and making decisions on what the store should sell. Most stores have contracts with major manufacturers, and if the buyer signs a bad contract, the store could be left with thousands of items they aren’t selling. The goal of the buyer is to always keep the shelves stocked but to rarely be forced to put items on sale.
Most buyers work a typical 40-hour workweek, although overtime is common in this field, especially as last-minute shipments arrive. It is the buyer’s job to make sure that the items shipped are the ones that have been ordered. In addition, a store’s buyer may have to travel often to meet with clients and attend trade shows. It depends on your industry. A food buyer will not travel as often or as far as a buyer in the high fashion industry will.
To become a buyer, you need a college degree. However, few buyers are hired without also having experience. Many stores have junior buyers who work under the regional buyer. These employees are given minimal responsibilities but are, in effect, “in training” to become a buyer. Experience in sales and mechanizing is also a plus.
The average buyer earns over $60,000 a year. Buyers are also usually full-time salaried employees who receive benefits, paid holidays, and cash bonuses based on good performance. If you enjoy traveling but also want to work in the retail industry, this may be the perfect job for you.