A retail buyer is responsible for planning and selecting a range of products to sell in retail outlets. The buyer must consider several factors when making purchasing decisions including customer demand, including price, quality and availability. Market trends, store policy and financial budgets are other considerations and restraints.
As a buyer you’ll source new merchandise and review existing items to ensure products remain competitive. By fully understanding customer needs, you are able to maximise profits and provide a commercially viable range of merchandise at competitive prices.
Keeping up to date with market trends and reacting to changes in demand are key elements of the role.
Retail buyers have a considerable amount of responsibility and autonomy in what is often a pressured environment.
Employers of retail buyers
Retail buyers are employed by national, regional and online retailers such as department stores, fashion retailers and supermarkets. Buyers normally work within the head office of a company.
- identifying and meeting suitable suppliers/manufacturers
- visiting fashion shows and trade fairs to look for new products
- managing stock levels
- negotiating prices, quantities and delivery time-scales
- pitching ideas
- producing reports and forecasts
- financial administration
- managing junior staff
- liaising with other employees about sales performances
- reviewing what is and isn’t working
Although this area of work is open to all graduates, a degree in retail or business can equip you with a greater commercial awareness and therefore increase your chances of getting a job.
In certain buying areas, such as fashion, employers may look for a relevant degree subject or a demonstrable interest and commitment to this particular area of retailing.
Relevant diplomas and foundation degrees may be accepted by some employers, particularly if a candidate has practical experience to offer.
It is sometimes possible to work your way up to a buying position without higher education qualifications.
- strong analytical skills
- negotiation skills and the ability to network and influence people
- teamworking and interpersonal skills
- excellent communication skills
- numeracy skills and proficiency using IT
- good organisation skills and the ability to multitask
- the ability to cope with the pressure of having to make important decisions and meet tight deadlines
- the capability to work in a fast-paced environment and achieve targets
- drive and determination
- entrepreneurial spirit and a willingness to take risks
- commercial awareness
- leadership attributes
- creative flair
- confident presentation style
- a passion for retail.