Want to Become a Buyer? Here’s How
Table of Contents Hide
- What Is a Buyer and What Do They Do?
- Steps to Become a Buyer
- Complete Your Education
- Get an Entry-level Job
- Earn Relevant Certifications
- Attend Retail Career or Job Fairs
- Seek a Buyer Graduate Scheme
- Keep Up To Date With Retail Industry News And Trends
- Do a Buyer Job Search
- Apply For Positions As A Buyer
- Practice Interview Techniques For Buyer Positions
- Continue Professional Development Throughout Your Career
- Skills You Need to Become A Buyer
- What Qualifications Does A Buyer Require?
- How Much Are Buyers Paid?
Buyers research, evaluate, and purchase merchandise such as clothing, electronic goods, food, etc. to resell to customers at retail or wholesale companies. It is an important role as profitability can be affected by how successful a buyer is in their work. Since a buyer can enhance profits by effectively negotiating and sourcing the best goods at competitive prices. Buyers must understand their target market and be able to predict future trends so that they can purchase what the customer wants. In this article, we will tell you how to become a buyer and what steps you need to take.
What Is a Buyer and What Do They Do?
Buyers are responsible for purchasing goods and merchandise for their company to use or resell to consumers, according to the BLS.1 They analyze buying trends, manage inventory, establish relationships with suppliers and negotiate the best price for goods purchased for their company.
The specifics of their work will depend on the employer and setting—some buyers and purchasing agents may focus more on procuring raw materials for further refining, others may deal with parts and supplies, and others spend their time securing the finished products customers can purchase directly from store shelves.
As you might imagine, a lot can hinge on effective buyers and purchasing agents. Under- or over-ordering goods can have a big impact on profitability. For example, if you’re working with industrial tools and supplies, failing to procure enough supplies to fulfill customer orders can in turn grind your customer’s work to a halt and strain business relationships.
Steps to Become a Buyer
A buyer procures products, including nondurable goods or farm products, along with relevant services an organization intends to either resell or use. While seeking the best deal for an organization, buyers search for high-quality services and goods at the lowest cost possible. They also examine sales records, industry trends, and inventory levels by examining domestic and foreign suppliers while keeping up-to-date with possible changes that could affect the supply and demand chain for materials and products. Follow these five steps on how to become a buyer.
Complete Your Education
The education requirements required to have a career as a buyer will be based on the position you seek and the specific industry. Most will require a bachelor’s degree in a field such as finance, accounting, business, or supply management. Other buyer jobs will only require a high school diploma. Researching the position you would like to end up with will help you determine whether continuing your education or not is the best choice for your chosen path.
Get an Entry-level Job
Once you’re done with or are in the midst of your educational program to become a buyer, you can take advantage of hands-on learning opportunities such as internships. Internships allow you to observe those who work in your field of interest in real life and see how they handle negotiation and business communication. This would also be an excellent time to apply for entry-level positions so you can advance your career to being a buyer. This will allow you to hone in on the skills you’ll use every day on the job, such as:
- Negotiating – You’ll often find yourself negotiating with the supplier, and being skilled in research strategy and persuasion will help you be successful.
- Math – You’ll be required to use simple formulas and calculations to compare prices and ensure you’re getting the best rate.
- Communication Skills – It will be necessary to have effective conversations with suppliers and within your organization with personnel and management. Having empathy and patience are great skills to have as a buyer.
- Analytical Skills – These will help you analyze products’ quality, find competitive prices, and find options for prompt service and delivery.
- Decision-making Skills – Timely and informed decision-making skills will help you when it’s time to finalize your choices.
Earn Relevant Certifications
There are several relevant certifications that you can pursue as a buyer. Your employer may or may not require you to have them, but they’re a great way to show that you’re able to keep up with industry requirements and make yourself valuable as an employee. These certifications include:
- Certified Purchasing Professional.
- Certified Supply Chain Professional.
- Certified Professional Public Buyer.
- Certified Public Purchasing Officer.
Each certification has different requirements regarding what education level and amount of experience are required and will have different training courses.
Attend Retail Career or Job Fairs
Job fairs provide the opportunity to learn more about a career in buying and speak with professionals in the industry. You’re also able to find out about job openings, internships, and potential participation in initial or group interviews for a role. Career fairs can also provide opportunities for networking and making friends with people that could one day become valuable collaborators.
Seek a Buyer Graduate Scheme
Large retailers often offer graduate schemes with competitive salaries and fast-tracked training. Graduates can apply to them in the final year of their degree, commencing upon graduation. They usually run for two years and can lead to a long-term career with a single company.
Keep Up To Date With Retail Industry News And Trends
To perform well in job interviews, it’s important to keep up to date with current events, topics, and issues in the retail sector. The trade press is an excellent source of insightful information that you can use in your interview answers. Select articles and news stories that are relevant to the specific type of retail buying you want to do (for example, fashion).
Do a Buyer Job Search
Once you feel ready, you can undertake a targeted job search to find your ideal buyer role. A targeted job search involves surveying the current job market to identify roles that are available and which ones you wish to pursue. This allows you to prioritize which jobs to apply for instead of sending your CV without a clear goal in mind. You can find success that way, but it might not be for roles that match your interests
Apply For Positions As A Buyer
If you have all your necessary certifications, necessary experience, and education completed, then you’re ready to begin applying to buyer positions. It would help if you tailor your resume to fit the job you’re applying for and highlight special skills, education, and certifications to help yourself stand out from the crowd. As a buyer, you can work in various industries, including retail, manufacturing, government, wholesale trade, and agriculture.
Practice Interview Techniques For Buyer Positions
Hiring managers for buyer jobs have key questions they ask candidates at the interview. Research common buyer interview questions and answers and prepare and practice your responses. Consider how you can sell yourself by referring back to aspects of your CV that demonstrate your suitability for the role.
Continue Professional Development Throughout Your Career
Once you have landed a retail buyer job, you can continue to build your career through ongoing learning and experience on the job. Most buyers start as junior buyers within a retail company and work their way up to a more senior role over time. Keep abreast of current affairs in buying and seek to improve your job skills wherever possible to expedite your advancement.
Skills You Need to Become A Buyer
Buyers have a distinct skill set that is essential for performing their role effectively. Aside from formal qualifications, you possess soft skills and hard skills that are specific to the buying role. Here are some of the key skills that can help you to be successful:
Communication Skills: Buyers are strong communicators as they work with a variety of different people within and outside their company. You engage, question, and negotiate with suppliers to create a rapport that helps close deals. You also work closely with product merchandisers, managers, and executives and provide accurate and concise information for their consideration.
Analytical Skills: You read and interpret large volumes of sales surveillance data day-to-day. Familiarity with retail buying and merchandising software is useful for using insights to inform future buying decisions. Utilizing external sources of data to predict trends is an essential part of your role.
Product Knowledge: Buyers work hard to familiarise themselves with the entire product inventory of the retail company they work for. You gather and retain detailed information on each item, including product specifications and supply chains. You continuously review the market for new products, evaluating them for their potential to generate a profit if they are sold.
Customer Knowledge: Your role involves developing an intimate understanding of customer behavior and their responses to particular products that are sold. You may use questionnaires or focus groups to gauge customer engagement and response or evaluate sales data to review product consumption. Feedback from customers assists with decision-making and sales strategy for the retailer.
Teamwork: Buyers typically work in the head offices of major retailers as part of a team of junior and senior staff members. Your work is time-dependent, so being a team player helps to meet critical deadlines that determine the roll-out of a product line.
As you can probably glean from the list above, it’s not all about numbers and planning. Interpersonal skills play a significant role, too. Building and maintaining relationships with vendors is a key part of the job. A buyer’s relational tasks might include getting feedback from customers, growing relationships with suppliers, and attending trade fairs.
What Qualifications Does A Buyer Require?
Like many roles in the profession, you do not need any specific qualifications to become a buyer. However, depending on the company and job level, you may be required to have a degree in a relevant subject, such as business, marketing, mathematics, or finance with most employers accepting a 2:2 or above in the UK.
Alternatively, a buyer apprenticeship could be a good first step towards a career in purchasing and can give you the edge on graduates as you learn on the job. UK apprenticeships are available at different levels which means there’s something for people at different stages in their careers.
The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) also offers a range of qualifications for its members that are available globally and recognized throughout the profession.
How Much Are Buyers Paid?
The average national salary of a buyer is £31,538 per year. Your level of experience, qualifications, location, and the negotiations that took place between yourself and the employer affect this average. The industry you specialize in and the type of products you’re responsible for buying and selling can also dramatically affect how much you take home each year.
Being a buyer requires someone to be quick on their feet. People who are good at negotiation thrive in the role, especially when they work well with others. A good fit for this role will have a talent for persuading vendors and suppliers to see their side of the deal, often resulting in lower costs for the buyer’s company. If you see yourself as a go-getter who does not back down from a challenge, this could be the right role for you!