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