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Retail buyer: job description

Retail buyer: job description

Retail buyers identify, select and purchase stock that matches the retailer's requirements.
Graduates often become buyers after having successfully completed a retail management training scheme.

What does a retail buyer do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Buying is an important and responsible role within a retailer as profitability can be affected by how successfully the work is undertaken. The buyer can enhance profits by acquiring suitable goods at competitive prices through sensible planning and careful purchasing.

Typical responsibilities include:

  • identifying and meeting suitable suppliers/manufacturers
  • negotiating prices, quantities and delivery time-scales
  • report writing
  • financial administration
  • managing junior staff
  • liaising with other employees about sales performances

Promotional prospects are excellent – progression can be into senior buying roles or into related areas of employment such as marketing, store management or merchandising

Typical employers of retail buyers

Retail buyers are employed by national, regional and online retailers. Buyers normally work within the head office of a company, so the majority of vacancies arise in London and other major cities.

Vacancies are advertised online and in careers services, national newspapers and specialist publications such as Retail Week, The Grocer, Draper's Record (for fashion buying vacancies), and The Retail Appointment as well as their online equivalents.

Qualifications and training required

A qualification in a relevant subject such as business, marketing, mathematics, statistics or management can be helpful. A degree in fashion or textiles is normally necessary for entry into fashion buying. Any work experience will enhance your application, but there are specific placement years and summer internships with buying departments.

Key skills for retail buyers

  • Commercial awareness
  • Confidence
  • Ability to cope with pressure
  • Good teamworking skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Effective organisational skills
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