Retail buyers in business or marketing departments purchase consumer goods for resale. To succeed in their role, retail buyers must have strong analytical skills along with an ability to evaluate market trends, past sales records, price, consumer demand and yield. Retail buyers must also work closely with teams throughout each buying season to meet future needs.
Retail buyers work in a variety of industries, including fashion, furniture, children’s toys, electronics and other finished consumer products. Compared to purchasing agents that typically buy agricultural, industrial or office supplies, retail buyers in business and marketing departments focus primarily on purchasing consumer goods. They forecast future consumer demands based on previous sales, trends and market data and buy goods based on expected sales. These buyers must also be aware of seasonal demands as they relate to purchasing inventory. To successfully execute the process, retail buyers must build relationships with suppliers to ensure the best possible product at the best possible price.
While no formal educational requirements exist for retail buyers, most employers strongly prefer to hire candidates with bachelor’s degrees. When it comes to education, the size of the corporation also comes into play. For example, smaller organizations may hire individuals with a high school diploma, whereas larger corporations such as national retail chains prefer to hire individuals with a bachelor’s degree and some business or accounting coursework. In some cases -- especially for individually owned retail boutiques -- retail buyers receive on-the-job training in place of a formal education. In this sense, a high school diploma is the only typical requirement.
Retail Buyer Certification:
Retail buyers typically aim for certification to bolster their resume. Individuals who work specifically within business or marketing departments for retail purchasing seek certification from the American Purchasing Society as a certified purchasing professional or a certified professional purchasing manager. Certifications may require a combination of work experience and education. Check with the American Purchasing Society to inquire about specific requirements.
Salary and Job Outlook:
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, wholesale and retail buyers earned a 2012 median salary of $57,420 per year. In 2010, about 487,200 individuals held jobs in purchasing. The BLS expects 31,700 new jobs in the field by 2020. At a predicted 7-percent increase, however, careers in retail buying will grow more slowly than average.