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Buyer vs. Purchaser: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

In the business world, there are many different types of roles that are responsible for procuring goods and services. Two of the most common positions are that of a buyer and a purchaser. Though these terms are often used interchangeably, there are some key differences between the two.

In this article, we discuss the main differences between buyers and purchasers. We also provide an overview of the responsibilities of each role and offer tips for those interested in pursuing a career in this field.

What is a Buyer?

A Buyer is a professional who is responsible for selecting and purchasing products or services for their company. They work with suppliers to negotiate the best prices and terms for their products and services. Buyers also track market trends to anticipate changes in customer demand. They often work closely with other departments within their company, such as marketing, sales, and accounting, to ensure that the products or services they purchase are aligned with the company’s overall strategy. Buyers typically have a bachelor’s degree in business, economics, or a related field.

What is a Purchaser?

Purchasers are responsible for the procurement of materials, products and services for their company. They work with vendors to negotiate the best terms for their company, including pricing, quality and delivery. Purchasers must stay up-to-date on market trends and developments to ensure that their company is getting the best possible deal. They also develop and maintain relationships with key vendors to ensure that their company has a good working relationship with them. Purchasers typically work in an office setting, but they may also travel to meet with vendors or attend trade shows.

Buyer vs. Purchaser

Here are the main differences between a buyer and a purchaser.

Job Duties

A buyer’s job duties can vary depending on their industry and the size of the company they work for. Typically, though, buyers perform research to determine what products their company should purchase, then make recommendations about which products to buy and how much to spend on them. They also oversee the procurement process, which is the process companies use to obtain the products they’ve decided to purchase. This may involve communicating with suppliers, vendors or manufacturers to ensure that the company receives the products it needs in a timely manner.

The job duties of a purchaser typically mirror those of a buyer, but purchasers often have more managerial responsibilities. As someone who makes purchasing decisions for their organization, purchasers are responsible for ensuring that their company has the necessary resources to produce products that customers want to buy. This means that purchasers may decide which products their company should produce, as well as deciding how their organization will produce those products.

Job Requirements

Buyers and purchasers typically need a bachelor’s degree in business administration, marketing or another related field. Some employers prefer candidates to have a master’s degree as well, but it is not required for entry-level positions. Additionally, many buyers and purchasers pursue certifications through the National Association of Purchasing Management (NAPM) or the Institute of Supply Management (ISM). These organizations offer training programs that teach professionals how to use purchasing software and other tools they might need on the job.

Work Environment

Purchasing agents typically work in an office environment, where they can access databases and other resources to find the best products for their clients. They may also travel to meet with vendors or attend trade shows to research new products.

A buyer works primarily in a retail setting, such as a department store or clothing boutique. They often spend most of their time on the sales floor interacting with customers and helping them find the right products. Buyers may also visit factories to ensure that production is meeting quality standards.


Both buyers and purchasers use negotiation skills when they are working with suppliers to reach agreements on prices, terms and conditions. They also need to have the ability to develop relationships with vendors because this can give them an advantage when it comes to negotiating prices and terms.

Both of these professionals also need to be able to forecast future needs for their company and understand trends in the marketplace that could impact the products or services they purchase. However, a buyer typically works more closely with a company’s marketing department to develop these forecasts, while a purchaser may work more closely with the company’s production department.

Organizational skills are important for both buyers and purchasers, as they often need to keep track of multiple orders and deadlines. However, a buyer may need to be more organized as they often need to coordinate with multiple departments within a company, while a purchaser may only need to coordinate with one or two other departments.


Buyers and purchasers have similar job duties, but they work in different industries. Buyers work in retail, while purchasers work in manufacturing. Buyers earn an average salary of $65,540 per year, while purchasers earn an average salary of $52,515 per year.


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