Career Development

What Does a Retail Buyer Do?

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

Retail buyers are responsible for sourcing and purchasing the products that will be sold in a retail store or chain of stores. They work with vendors, suppliers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders to identify which items should be purchased and how much should be bought.

Retail buyers may also be tasked with ensuring that the products they’ve selected are properly displayed and merchandised once they arrive at the store. This might include arranging displays, deciding where certain products should be placed, etc.

Retail Buyer Job Duties

A retail buyer typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Negotiating with suppliers to get the best prices on products, while maintaining relationships with existing suppliers to ensure product quality and availability
  • Communicating with vendors to discuss new product offerings or changes in pricing structures
  • Maintaining records of inventory levels, sales trends, and inventory shrinkage to identify problems in the supply chain and make adjustments accordingly
  • Analyzing consumer spending patterns, seasonal trends, and competitor pricing information to forecast demand for products
  • Reviewing bids from vendors to determine which supplier offers the best price for materials needed to fulfill orders
  • Coordinating with other departments in the company, including accounting, marketing, human resources, and shipping and receiving, to ensure that all aspects of an order are executed smoothly
  • Managing inventory levels by placing orders with suppliers to replenish stock when needed, using computer software to track inventory levels, and monitoring all inventory levels in real time
  • Reviewing purchase orders to ensure they are complete and accurate before processing them through the system. Processing orders through the system in real time to ensure they are fulfilled correctly and in a timely manner
  • Maintaining relationships with vendors and communicating with them about any issues that arise during the ordering process

Retail Buyer Salary & Outlook

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

  • Median Annual Salary: $62,500 ($30.05/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $121,000 ($58.17/hour)

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

The growth of e-commerce has led to fewer retail stores and less demand for retail buyers. As a result, some retail buyers may be laid off or see their responsibilities change as retailers try to cut costs.

Retail Buyer Job Requirements

A retail buyer typically needs the following qualifications:

Education: Retail buyers typically need a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. Some retailers may require an associate or bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as business or marketing. Relevant coursework includes economics, business, marketing, mathematics and statistics.

Training & Experience: Retail buyers typically receive on-the-job training after they are hired. This training may last for a few weeks and may include shadowing current retail buyers and learning about the company’s policies and procedures. The training may also include learning about the company’s computer systems and software.

Retail buyers may also receive training in the form of seminars and conferences. These conferences can help retail buyers learn about new trends in the industry and can help them keep up with the latest developments.

Certifications & Licenses: Certifications are not typically required for this role. However, some employers may prefer or require a specific certification for this role.

Retail Buyer Skills

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

Inventory management: Retail buyers use inventory management skills to track the products they have in stock and the products they need to restock. This is an important part of the job because it ensures the store has the products customers want to buy. For example, if a store sells a popular product and runs out of it, the buyer can order more of the product to ensure the store always has it in stock.

Budgeting and forecasting: Retail buyers use forecasting skills to predict sales and inventory needs. This information is important for planning and budgeting for the store’s inventory. For example, if a store has a large inventory of a certain product, the buyer may need to order more of that product to meet customer demand.

Negotiation: Negotiation is the ability to persuade someone to accept a lower price for an item. Retail buyers often negotiate with suppliers to get the best prices on products. This can help them save money for their company and provide customers with lower prices.

Marketing: Marketing skills allow you to understand how to promote products and services to customers. Retail buyers often work in marketing departments, so it’s important for them to understand how to advertise effectively. This can include knowing how to create advertisements, how to price products and how to display products.

Data analysis: Data analysis is the ability to interpret information and draw conclusions from it. Retail buyers use data analysis to determine what products to order, how much to order and what price to offer the products at. This information is used to make informed business decisions that can help a company grow.

Retail Buyer Work Environment

Retail buyers work in the buying offices of large department stores, chain stores, and mail-order houses. They usually work a five-day, 40-hour week, although they may work overtime during busy periods, such as before holidays. Retail buyers spend much of their time on the phone and in meetings with vendors, store managers, and other buyers. They also spend time researching trends, visiting stores, and attending trade shows and fashion shows. Because they must be aware of the latest trends in order to make sound buying decisions, retail buyers must keep up with fashion magazines and attend fashion shows. In addition, they must be able to work well under pressure and meet deadlines.

Retail Buyer Trends

Here are three trends influencing how retail buyers work. Retail 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 Rise of the Digital Shopper

The rise of the digital shopper is a trend that is quickly changing the retail landscape. As more and more people shop online, retailers are having to adapt their strategies to meet the needs of these shoppers.

This means that retail buyers need to be familiar with the latest trends in e-commerce, such as mobile shopping and social media marketing. They also need to be able to identify products that will appeal to digital shoppers and understand how to market them effectively.

More Focus on Customer Experience

As customers become more demanding, businesses are focusing more on providing a great customer experience. This means that retail buyers need to be able to understand what customers want and how to give it to them.

In order to succeed in this new environment, retail buyers need to be able to think like customers and understand what they value most. They also need to be able to create a culture of customer service within their organization.

Greater Use of Data Analytics

Data analytics is becoming an increasingly important tool for retailers as they look for ways to improve their business. By using data analytics, retailers can get a better understanding of their customers’ preferences and behavior, which can help them make better decisions about where to focus their resources.

As data analytics becomes more popular, retail buyers will need to learn how to use this information to their advantage. This includes understanding how to collect and analyze data, as well as knowing how to use it to make informed decisions.

How to Become a Retail Buyer

A career as a retail buyer can be both rewarding and challenging. It’s important to start by finding the right company for you. Do your research and find a retailer that matches your interests and values. Then, work hard to prove yourself and show that you are committed to the company’s goals.

As you progress in your career, it’s important to continue learning and developing new skills. Take advantage of training opportunities and attend industry events. Network with other professionals in the field and stay up-to-date on the latest trends.

Related: How to Write a Retail Buyer Resume

Advancement Prospects

Retail buyers usually start out as assistant buyers or trainees. With experience, they advance to buyer, merchandiser, or product manager. Some eventually become general merchandise managers or vice presidents of merchandising.

Many retail buyers have a bachelor’s degree in business, merchandising, or a related field. Some have a master’s degree in business administration or a related field. Many retail buyers start their careers as salespeople or in other retail jobs and are promoted to buying positions. Some buyers have previous experience working in the wholesale or manufacturing side of the retail industry.

Retail Buyer Job Description Example

As a retail buyer for [CompanyX], you will be responsible for the planning, sourcing, and purchasing of merchandise for our retail stores. This is a critical role in ensuring that our stores are stocked with the right products, at the right time, and at the right price. You will work closely with our store managers and merchandisers to understand their needs and develop strategies to meet their goals. A successful retail buyer will have a keen eye for detail, excellent negotiation skills, and a deep understanding of the retail market.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Understand customer needs and develop merchandise assortments that meet those needs
  • Analyze sales data to identify trends and make recommendations on product mix, pricing, and promotions
  • Develop and maintain strong relationships with vendors to negotiate the best terms and prices for merchandise
  • Stay up-to-date on industry trends and new products to ensure the store is carrying items that are popular with customers
  • Work with the visual merchandising team to plan in-store displays that highlight new and seasonal merchandise
  • Manage inventory levels to ensure the store has enough stock to meet customer demand without overordering
  • Monitor stockroom organization and cleanliness to ensure that merchandise is properly stored and protected from damage
  • Prepare purchase orders for merchandise and track shipments to ensure timely delivery
  • Review invoices for accuracy and resolve any discrepancies with vendors
  • Process returns and exchanges of merchandise in accordance with company policy
  • Train and supervise junior buyers and assistant buyers
  • Perform regular price comparisons to ensure the store is competitively priced

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, merchandising, or related field
  • 3-5 years experience working in retail buying or similar role
  • Proven track record of successful product development and sales
  • Excellent negotiation skills
  • Strong analytical and math skills
  • Highly organized with excellent attention to detail

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • MBA or other advanced degree
  • 7-10 years experience in retail buying or similar role
  • Experience managing a team of buyers
  • Familiarity with e-commerce platforms and marketplaces
  • Knowledge of the competitive landscape for the products being bought

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