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Graduate Buying Jobs

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        Helping you find a career in the buying industry

        Working out of a company's head offices, buyers are responsible for the specific part of retail that determines the products that are sold by that particular business. This means the ranges of clothes in shops, the food on supermarket shelves, the beauty products in high street pharmacies (and so many other things) are decided upon by those working in buying.

        It's an exciting field to work in, because you're directly influencing the products that we eat and the clothes that we wear. In order to do this successfully, buyers need to have an eye for marketing, a strong awareness of customer behaviour, and the ability to spot trends before competitors. A large part of the job is assessing data and making decisions based on finance and statistics - it's not all runway shows and private views!

        Day to day tasks for buyers are likely to include many of the following:

        • Sourcing new products at shows and trade fairs
        • Analysing trends and buying patterns
        • Judging the quality of potential products
        • Ultimately choosing the ranges that will be stocked
        • Reporting back on the market
        • Negotiating and placing orders and contracts
        • Ensuring the maximum amount of sales are made for the business
        • Tracking competitor activity
        • Liaising closely with marketing, merchandising and design
        • Reviewing and analysing sales performance

        Types of jobs within buying

        There are two sides of buying in most retail businesses: those selecting the products to be sold by that business specifically (for example which clothes go on a high street shop's rails or what crisps a supermarket sells) and those selecting the products owned by that brand that are sold externally, via third party ecommerce sites (think ASOS, Amazon, and multiple others.) The skills needed across these two sides of buying are essentially the same.

        Within these two sides of the buying industry, there are various levels of seniority:

        Head of buying - Ultimately responsible for the buying team; the team that assesses the market and decides through detailed research which products will sell best for the brand in question

        Senior buyer - Increased responsibility for the range and department; a step up from a buyer

        Buyer - Increased responsibility, often with the task of covering the whole department; a step up from a junior buyer

        Junior buyer - Responsible for choosing certain products for a department, for example one particular range

        Assistant buyer - Some responsibility for the range and what's stocked within it

        Buyer's administrator - Performing administrative tasks such as data assessment on behalf of the buyer

        Buyer's administrator assistant - Helping the buyers and the buyer's administrator with any extra work that's needed

        Find out more
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        Skills & interests required for a career in Buying

        Although buying seems glamorous, it's also an intellectually rigorous job that takes a large amount of statistical planning and consideration.

        Graduate schemes & other typical career progression routes in Buying

        The career route for a graduate in buying is fairly well-prescribed, but is likely to vary with the size of the business. As a rule, the structure is as follows:

        Buyer's admin assistant Buyer's admin Assistant buyer Junior buyer Buyer Senior buyer Head of buying

        The specific tasks for each of these roles can be found in the Types of jobs within buying section.

        With a retail, fashion or buying degree you are likely to be able to move into a position that's higher up in this structure than you would if you'd studied an unrelated degree.

        Tips for getting into the field

        Buying, especially fashion buying, is one of the most popular and competitive industries that you can choose, so it's incredibly important to know what employers are looking for when you're applying for roles.

        Obviously, an analytical mind is just as important as a love of the industry for a buying role.

        There are also a large number of general, non-industry-related things that you can do to put yourself in a good position to start applying for jobs. These include:

        • Tailoring your CV for each specific role - making sure you focus on previous experience and relevant skills
        • Applying for internships and/or work experience - this is a no-brainer: as well as ensuring that you've experienced the field before you start applying for jobs within it, it'll show that you're committed and allow you to start acquiring the practical skills you'll need in your future job
        • Take on similar roles - for example as a retail assistant or similar, during holidays or whilst you apply for higher-level roles right after graduation
        • See what the top companies in the field require - start by looking for case studies from the big firms, and note what backgrounds and skills their current employees have
        • Get the relevant training - in this case, a qualification in buying might help you out
        • Use your contacts - university professors, those you met on work experience, people you can approach through social media or LinkedIn - they're all potentially the stepping stone to your next role, and they might very well be happy to help you
        How much can graduates earn in Buying?

        Retail isn't known for paying incredibly well, however head office roles are better paying than those on the shop floor. Here are the average salaries for various levels within buying - obviously, those at the top end earn a wage that reflects their high level of responsibility for the brand:

        Buyer's admin assistant - £20,472

        Assistant buyer - £20,920

        Junior buyer - £26,764

        Buyer - £26,874

        Senior Buyer - £37,249

        Head of buying - up to £90,000

        What qualifications do I need for a career in Buying?

        Many of those moving into buying in the fashion world have studied a fashion-related degree, although in reality it is possible to move into this industry from any degree background. Some of the most popular degrees for those working in buying include:

        • Fashion
        • Business
        • Marketing
        • Retail
        • Advertising
        • Economics

        If you have an unrelated degree you might want to consider a masters or other postgraduate qualification in buying in order to get the skills you need.

        Buying industry bodies

        Retail Choice

        British Retail Consortium

        British Independent Retailers Association (BIRA)

        IMRG