Career Development

What Does a Purchasing Clerk Do?

Find out what a purchasing clerk does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a purchasing clerk.

Purchasing clerks are responsible for purchasing and receiving goods and services on behalf of their company. They commonly work with vendors to negotiate prices, terms, and conditions of sale. In addition to negotiating deals, they may also be tasked with tracking inventory levels, placing orders, and ensuring that all purchased items arrive in good condition.

Purchasing clerks typically have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders—they’re often the only point of contact between a company and its suppliers. This means they must be able to effectively communicate with both parties to ensure that everyone is on the same page about price, quality, quantity, etc.

Purchasing Clerk Job Duties

A purchasing clerk typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Reconciling invoices to ensure that all charges are correct and approved by the company
  • Communicating with suppliers about price changes, product availability, and shipping schedules
  • Reviewing purchase orders for completeness and accuracy, then processing them through the accounting system
  • Coordinating with suppliers to arrange delivery of goods
  • Sampling products to determine quality and verifying product codes and labels for accuracy
  • Coordinating with vendors to ensure that orders are delivered on time
  • Calculating discounts, interest charges, and other fees related to purchasing transactions
  • Establishing relationships with vendors to develop long-term business relationships that benefit both parties
  • Reviewing inventory records to forecast needs for ordering new merchandise or replenishing existing stock

Purchasing Clerk Salary & Outlook

Purchasing clerks’ salaries vary depending on their level of education and experience, the company size and geographic location. They may also earn additional compensation in the form of bonuses.

  • Median Annual Salary: $41,500 ($19.95/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $95,000 ($45.67/hour)

The employment of purchasing clerks is expected to decline over the next decade.

Organizations are increasingly using electronic systems to automate the procurement process, which may limit the need for these workers. Organizations also may outsource some purchasing functions to other countries where wages are lower.

Related: Purchasing Clerk Interview Questions and Answers

Purchasing Clerk Job Requirements

The following are some of the qualifications that are often looked for in a purchasing clerk candidate:

Education: Most employers require purchasing clerks to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent. Some employers prefer candidates who have completed an associate’s or bachelor’s degree in business, finance or a related field. Courses in business, finance and economics can help you understand the principles of supply and demand, pricing, inventory and other important aspects of purchasing.

Training & Experience: Most purchasing clerks receive on-the-job training, which may last for a few weeks to a month. This training may include learning the company’s purchasing procedures and software.

Certifications & Licenses: While certifications are not often required for purchasing clerks, they can gain certifications to improve their chances of getting a higher-paying job and to master the skills needed for that higher-paying job.

Purchasing Clerk Skills

Purchasing clerks need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication: Communication is the ability to convey information to others in a clear and concise manner. As a purchasing clerk, you may be required to communicate with suppliers, managers and other employees. It’s important to be able to convey information in a way that others can understand.

Organization: Organization is the ability to keep track of multiple tasks and deadlines simultaneously. As a purchasing clerk, you may be responsible for managing multiple supplier contracts, tracking inventory levels and maintaining supplier information. Strong organizational skills can help you manage your workload and prioritize tasks.

Negotiation: Negotiation is the ability to persuade others to agree to your terms. As a purchasing clerk, you may be responsible for negotiating with suppliers to get the best price for the company. This can involve knowing the market value of the product, knowing the supplier’s profit margins and knowing what the company is willing to pay.

Critical thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to analyze a situation and make a decision based on the information you have. As a purchasing clerk, you may be responsible for negotiating with suppliers to get the best price for the company. This requires you to think critically about the current price, the quality of the product and the value it provides to the company.

Attention to detail: Attention to detail is a crucial skill for purchasing clerks because it allows them to ensure they complete all of their duties accurately. This can include ensuring the correct pricing, quantities and descriptions of products, as well as entering data correctly and accurately. Attention to detail can also help purchasing clerks ensure they complete all of their duties in a timely manner.

Purchasing Clerk Work Environment

Purchasing clerks work in a variety of settings, including manufacturing plants, warehouses, offices, and retail stores. They typically work regular business hours, although they may occasionally work overtime to meet deadlines. Purchasing clerks typically work on their feet for long periods of time and may be required to lift heavy boxes or containers. They also may be exposed to noise and fumes from machinery.

Purchasing Clerk Trends

Here are three trends influencing how purchasing clerks work. Purchasing clerks 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 eCommerce

The growth of eCommerce is a trend that is having a major impact on the purchasing process. As more and more people shop online, businesses are looking for professionals who can help them manage their purchases.

This is where purchasing clerks come in. By understanding how to work with eCommerce vendors, they can help businesses find the best deals and save money in the process. In addition, they can also help to manage inventory and ensure that products are delivered on time.

More Focus on Sustainability

As businesses become more environmentally conscious, they are placing a greater emphasis on sustainability. This means that purchasing clerks will need to be familiar with sustainable materials and practices.

By understanding how to source and purchase sustainable materials, purchasing clerks can help their companies reduce their environmental footprint. They can also educate other employees about the importance of sustainability and how it can be achieved.

Greater Use of Technology

Technology is playing an increasingly important role in the purchasing process. Purchasing clerks are now using technology to streamline many of their tasks, such as sourcing products and tracking prices.

In order to stay competitive, purchasing clerks will need to learn how to use technology to its fullest potential. This includes learning how to use software to track prices and manage product data.

How to Become a Purchasing Clerk

A purchasing clerk career can be a great way to get your foot in the door of a company. As a purchasing clerk, you’ll be responsible for ordering and receiving goods and services that are needed by the company. This could include anything from office supplies to large machinery.

To be successful in this role, it’s important to have strong organizational skills and be able to manage multiple tasks simultaneously. You should also be comfortable working with numbers and Excel spreadsheets.

Advancement Prospects

Purchasing clerks may advance to become buyers or purchasing agents. Some may advance to supervisory or managerial positions in charge of purchasing departments. Some purchasing clerks with experience and business training may open their own businesses.

Purchasing Clerk Job Description Example

At [CompanyX], we are always searching for new and innovative ways to improve our products and services. Part of this process is procuring the best materials at the best prices. We’re looking for a purchasing clerk to join our team and help us with this important task. The ideal candidate will have experience in purchasing, as well as knowledge of the market and the suppliers. He or she will be responsible for negotiating prices, preparing purchase orders, and keeping track of inventory. The goal is to ensure that we are getting the best value for our money.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Serve as the primary point of contact for all purchasing inquiries
  • Review requisitions and identify potential vendors
  • Research vendors to find the most competitive prices that meet quality standards
  • Prepare and issue purchase orders to selected vendors
  • Track deliveries to ensure they arrive on time and match the purchase order
  • Resolve any discrepancies with vendors in a timely manner
  • Maintain accurate records of all purchases, including invoices and receipts
  • Reconcile vendor statements on a monthly basis
  • Negotiate payment terms with vendors when necessary
  • Monitor inventory levels and reorder supplies as needed
  • Keep abreast of new products and developments in the marketplace
  • Assist with the development of annual budgets

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • High school diploma or equivalent
  • Proven experience as a purchasing clerk or similar role
  • Working knowledge of MS Office, especially Excel
  • Familiarity with ERP systems (e.g. SAP)
  • Excellent communication and negotiation skills
  • Thoroughness and attention to detail

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Associate’s degree in business administration or related field
  • 1-2 years of experience in a supervisory role
  • Experience working with international suppliers
  • Bilingualism


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