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Merchandiser vs. Buyer: What Are the Differences?

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

A merchandiser and buyer are both important roles within the fashion industry. A merchandiser is responsible for creating and executing promotional and marketing plans to increase sales, while a buyer is responsible for purchasing products for a company. Both positions require an understanding of the fashion industry and trends. In this article, we compare and contrast the job titles of merchandiser and buyer, and we provide additional information about each role.

What is a Merchandiser?

Merchandisers are responsible for planning, selecting and purchasing the products that a company sells. They work with vendors to negotiate pricing and terms, and they create product displays to attract customers. Merchandisers also track inventory levels and sales data to forecast future trends and needs. They may also be responsible for developing marketing campaigns to promote specific products. Merchandisers typically work in retail stores, but they may also work for wholesalers, manufacturers or other types of businesses.

What is a Buyer?

Buyers are retail professionals who purchase products and merchandise for store inventory. They work with vendors to select the products that will be offered for sale and negotiate pricing and terms of purchase. They also create and monitor store budgets to ensure that the products being purchased are within the allocated budget. In some cases, buyers may also be responsible for managing inventory levels and ordering products when stock is low. They work closely with store managers and other retail staff to ensure that the products being purchased are in line with the store’s overall merchandise mix.

Merchandiser vs. Buyer

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

Job Duties

Merchandisers and buyers share some job duties, such as evaluating market needs and selecting products to fulfill those needs. However, merchandisers focus more on the process of selling products within a specific market, while buyers concentrate on the process of acquiring products from various sources for an organization to use or resell. This means that a merchandiser’s job duties may include designing marketing campaigns, analyzing sales data and conducting research on consumer preferences. A buyer’s job duties may include creating procurement plans, setting purchasing budgets and managing supplier relationships.

Job Requirements

Merchandisers and buyers 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 merchandisers and buyers 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

Buyers and merchandisers typically work in different environments. Buyers often work in offices, where they can access databases of information about their products and communicate with manufacturers to ensure that the right items are available for purchase. They may also travel to trade shows or other events to meet with vendors and promote their brands.

Merchandisers usually work outdoors, traveling from location to location to set up displays and interact with customers. They may spend long hours on their feet, walking around a lot as they perform their duties.


Both merchandisers and buyers use analytical skills to examine trends, assess customer needs and make decisions about what products to stock or purchase. They also both need to have strong communication skills to interact with vendors, customers and colleagues.

Merchandisers benefit from having strong organizational skills as they often oversee multiple product lines and need to keep track of inventory levels, sales data and other information. They also use negotiation skills when working with vendors to secure the best prices for their products.

Buyers also need to be organized as they need to track large amounts of data, but they also use their analytical skills to examine this data to identify patterns and trends. They use their findings to inform their purchasing decisions. In addition, buyers use their negotiation skills to haggle with vendors over prices and terms.


The average salary for a merchandiser is $47,139 per year, while the average salary for a buyer is $65,540 per year. Both of these salaries can vary depending on the type of company you work for, your level of experience and your location.


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