The role of a buyer is one of the most misunderstood in retail. From the outside, it may seem glamorous and exciting, but in reality it’s a lot of hard work.
It can include pricing, merchandising and promotional functions but may vary widely depending on the size of the organisation. For example, a chain of large DIY stores may be best served by a strongly centralised buying function, whereas a diverse grouping of department stores may need to allow some limited buying at branch level.
Buyers must be ahead of key trends and able to anticipate what people are going to want to buy and how much before the customer has even seen the product.
A buyer is an essential part of the Monday morning buying meetings and will also contribute to the buying strategy meetings as well as present their figures and ranges to the rest of the fashion/retail departments and the board of directors.
When a new product is needed; requiring information, setting product specifications, evaluating sources of supply and establishing an order routine, e.g. high fashion.
A routine repurchase that may have been done numerous times before and does not need further research e.g. socks.
When the old product is reassessed, for example, the product is the same but the colour, size etc. may be slightly changed, e.g. tailoring, men's trousers.
Enthusiasm for the product area
Willingness to travel
A typical starting salary for a junior buying role would be £16,000 - £25,000. With more experience in the job, you could expect £30,000 - £60,000. A senior buyer could earn £55,000 - £70,000 or more.
Just starting out? See our tips on how to get into a buyers admin assistant role here.
Once you've gained the basic training and understand how the buying process works there will be opportunities to progress and take on further responsibilities. All large retail organisations will offer strong candidates the opportunities to progress to assistant buyer and buyer levels. You could be responsible for sales and budgetary control of a multi-million pound department and managing a team of people all within five years of joining.
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