Career Development

What Does an Assistant Buyer Do?

Find out what an assistant buyer does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as an assistant buyer.

Assistant buyers are the right-hand man or woman to the buyer. They help with all aspects of the buying process, from sourcing new products and negotiating deals to managing inventory and overseeing sales floor operations.

Assistant buyers may also be called upon to provide support to other departments within their company. This might include helping with marketing efforts by providing feedback on product packaging or merchandising displays.

Assistant Buyer Job Duties

Assistant buyers typically have a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Communicating with suppliers to ensure that they have all the information they need to deliver products in a timely manner
  • Managing budgets, including costs for labor, shipping, and other expenses associated with purchasing specific items
  • Negotiating prices with suppliers to ensure that prices are fair and within budget guidelines
  • Coordinating with vendors to ensure that orders are delivered on time
  • Conducting market research to identify potential new suppliers or products that could be beneficial to the company’s offerings
  • Reviewing bids from suppliers to determine which offer the best value for the company’s needs
  • Coordinating with designers to specify materials and colors for purchase orders
  • Providing support to managers in budgeting, accounting, and procurement activities
  • Determining whether new suppliers are qualified to meet company standards for quality and delivery timeframes

Assistant Buyer Salary & Outlook

Assistant buyers’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the company size and industry. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $66,500 ($31.97/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $122,000 ($58.65/hour)

The employment of assistant buyers is expected to decline over the next decade.

The growth of e-commerce has led to more online sales, which will likely reduce the need for these workers in traditional retail stores. As a result, some assistant buyers may lose their jobs or be reassigned to other tasks, such as pricing merchandise or managing inventory.

Assistant Buyer Job Requirements

Assistant buyers typically need to have the following qualifications:

Education: Assistant buyers typically need a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Some employers prefer to hire assistant buyers who have completed some college coursework.

Assistant buyers can also benefit from earning a bachelor’s degree in business, finance or another related field. These programs typically include courses in economics, accounting, marketing and business law.

Training & Experience: Assistant buyers typically receive on-the-job training from their new employer. This training may include learning the company’s policies and procedures, the inventory management system and the purchasing process. The training may also include shadowing a current assistant buyer or other employee until they are comfortable enough to complete tasks on their own.

Certifications & Licenses: There are no required certifications to qualify for a role as an assistant buyer, but buyers often earn certification to gain additional knowledge about their responsibilities and further their career advancement opportunities.

Assistant Buyer Skills

Assistant buyers need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is another important skill for a buyer to have, as it allows them to interact with other employees and customers. As a buyer, you may be responsible for communicating with suppliers, so it’s important to be able to send and receive emails and phone calls. You may also be responsible for communicating with other employees to discuss the company’s needs and how to fulfill them.

Organization: Organization is another skill that can help you succeed in your role as an assistant buyer. You may be responsible for managing the company’s inventory, which requires attention to detail and the ability to keep track of product numbers, prices and other information. You may also be responsible for managing the company’s budget, which requires you to keep track of expenses and make sure you don’t spend more than you have.

Negotiation: Negotiation is the ability to persuade someone to accept your terms. As a buyer, you may need to negotiate with suppliers to get the best prices for products. You can also negotiate with suppliers to receive additional benefits, such as free shipping or a discount on a large order.

Research: Researching is the ability to find information and data about a product or service. As an assistant buyer, you may be responsible for researching products and services to determine which ones are the best fit for your company. You can use research skills to find information about products and services, such as their features, benefits and prices.

Technology: Technology skills can help you use software and tools to analyze data, create reports and track inventory. You can use technology to analyze data to make informed purchasing decisions and track sales data to make sure you have enough inventory to meet customer demand.

Assistant Buyer Work Environment

Most assistant buyers work in the purchasing department of a company, although some may work in other departments such as marketing, sales, or customer service. Many assistant buyers work in large organizations, such as department stores, that have many different types of products. Others work for smaller companies that specialize in a particular type of product, such as clothing or electronics. Assistant buyers typically work regular business hours, although they may occasionally work overtime to meet deadlines. The work can be stressful at times, especially when trying to meet the demands of customers or managers. However, assistant buyers generally find the work to be challenging and exciting.

Assistant Buyer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how assistant buyers work. Assistant buyers will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Online Shopping

The growth of online shopping is a trend that is quickly changing the way people buy products. As more and more people turn to the internet for their shopping needs, businesses are starting to realize the importance of having an online presence.

This means that assistant buyers will need to be familiar with online shopping platforms and how to use them to find the best deals. They will also need to be able to manage inventory and shipping in order to keep up with the demands of online shoppers.

More Collaboration Between Buyers and Sellers

As the economy continues to improve, businesses are looking for ways to save money and increase efficiency. One way they are doing this is by collaborating with suppliers on the buying side of the equation.

Assistant buyers can take advantage of this trend by developing strong relationships with suppliers and understanding their needs. This will allow them to provide better service to their customers and help them to save money in the process.

A Greater Focus on Sustainability

As sustainability becomes a greater focus for consumers, businesses are beginning to shift their attention towards more environmentally-friendly practices. This includes everything from using recycled materials in production to reducing energy consumption.

Assistant buyers can capitalize on this trend by becoming experts in sustainable sourcing. By doing so, they can help their company to identify and implement new practices that will help it to become more environmentally friendly.

How to Become an Assistant Buyer

A career as an assistant buyer can be a great way to get your foot in the door of the purchasing profession. As an assistant buyer, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about different industries and products, develop relationships with suppliers, and gain experience working with spreadsheets and other business tools.

As you progress in your career, you may want to consider becoming a buyer or a procurement manager. These roles offer more responsibility and require additional skills, such as negotiation and problem-solving.

Related: How to Write an Assistant Buyer Resume

Advancement Prospects

Advancement for assistant buyers is fairly straightforward. With experience, they move up to the position of buyer. Some may eventually become merchandise managers, responsible for an entire line of products. Others may advance to store manager or general manager.

The best way to advance is to get a job with a larger company. Large companies have more levels of management, which means more opportunities for advancement. They also tend to have more buying positions, so there is more room for advancement within the buying department.

Assistant Buyer Job Description Example

As an assistant buyer at [CompanyX], you will be responsible for assisting the buyer in all aspects of the purchasing process. This includes but is not limited to: researching potential vendors, negotiating prices, preparing purchase orders, and tracking shipments. The ideal candidate will have excellent communication and negotiation skills, as well as the ability to work well under pressure. He or she will also be detail-oriented and organized, with the ability to multitask and meet deadlines.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Understand the company’s buying strategy and how it applies to the merchandise category
  • Monitor sales, margins, inventories, and turnover for the merchandise category
  • Analyze trends and develop strategies to maximize sales and profits
  • Work with vendors to negotiate prices, terms, and conditions of purchase
  • Select vendors based on price, quality, and service
  • Manage the development and execution of promotional plans
  • Monitor customer feedback and complaints
  • Develop assortments that reflect customer needs and preferences
  • Allocate merchandise among stores
  • Monitor store performance and make recommendations to improve sales and profitability
  • Prepare periodic reports for management
  • Attend trade shows and market meetings

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, merchandising, or related field
  • 1-3 years experience in retail buying, planning, or related area
  • Excellent analytical skills with the ability to make sound decisions
  • Strong negotiation skills
  • Proven ability to work well under pressure and meet deadlines
  • Highly organized with excellent attention to detail

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Master’s degree in business or related field
  • 5+ years experience in retail buying, planning, or related area
  • Experience with merchandise planning software
  • Familiarity with import/export procedures and documentation
  • Ability to speak more than one language fluently

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