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Retail Buyer Job Description

Retail Buyers work for retail stores, including department and variety stores, specialty shops, and chain stores. They are the ones who buy the things that the store sells to its customers.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Retail Buyers who work for large department stores specialize in one type of merchandise.
  • Retail Buyers who work for smaller stores buy a variety of products.
  • The Retail Buyer who works for chain stores often buys products for the store’s outlets.

The Retail Buyer must be able to choose items that are appropriate for their store and its clientele. The products must suit the needs of the customers but be within the price range that the store has developed for the customers. A budget store needs cheaper items but still good quality that the customer will buy. The Retail Buyer might be buying for a clothing boutique that caters to the younger buyer who will pay more money. Then the clothes should be relatively expensive and fashionable to suit the customers taste more than the needs. The need to buy an item is one prospect of buying items but buying because you just want an item makes a totally different perspective on the quality of merchandise. The Retail Buyer must be capable of keeping up with the trends in fashion and consumer needs.

The Retail Buyer finds available merchandise through catalogs and by traveling to trade shows that display new consumer goods. There are seasonable fashion shows that the Retail Buyer must attend as well in order to get the type of merchandise for the retailer that they are buying for. Clothing manufacturers often conduct shows that feature the latest designer styles. In order for the Retail Buyer to purchase the right type of clothes they must know their customers and be able to anticipate trends that their customers may decide to buy. The Retail Buyer must keep up with all the new things on the market plus styles that famous people wear that might affect his customer. The Retail Buyer watches computerized buying trends and goes on the selling floor in order to get a field for the customer trends.

The Retail Buyer works with the advertising department in order to present sales promotions to tempt the buying customer. Retail Buyers are often rewarded for increases of sales in their store or department. The Retail Buyer must be familiar with computers, the internet, and have research abilities in order to keep up-to-date on merchandise. Many Retail Buyers use the computer to find out important information on merchandise specifications and inventory records this helps to speed up the selection and ordering process. Retail Buyers work under the supervision of merchandise managers. The merchandise manager and the Retail Buyer determine how much money they may spend on getting in new merchandise along with replenishing older merchandise. The Retail Buyer has a budget that they must obtain in order to keep within a profitable margin for the retail store.

The Retail Buyer must have a bachelor’s degree from a college or university before most employers will accept them in that position. The Retail Buyer should have knowledge of merchandise that the retail store deals with along with some previous experience in buying. Many companies prefer to know that their Retail Buyer has good judgment and analytical ability. They want their Retail Buyer to be able to know when to take risks that will pay off. The Retail Buyer must attend a school that offers courses in retailing or buying majoring in these courses is vital to their job position.

There are executive training programs for Retail Buyers but the competition for a spot in these programs is often intense. Some programs place new workers in sales and clerical positions while others do offer formal training classes. Retail Buyers usually start out as assistant buyers before they are hired as the Retail Buyer. Retail Buyers read trade magazines and other materials daily in order to keep up with what is happening in the retail world. Finding merchandise is often readily done but getting merchandise that makes a profit for the retail store takes work. The Retail Buyer must have the ability to buy merchandise that will sell making a good profit and pleasing to the customer.

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