How to Become a Buyer

What is a buyer?

A buyer researches, analyzes, and forecasts current and future buying trends, markets, styles, and products, with attention to specific target market and demographics. They are responsible for purchasing materials, supplies or equipment for a business.

How to become a buyer?

You can do a degree before joining a retail company graduate scheme. Employers recruit from a range of degree subjects. Some particularly relevant subjects include marketing, fashion buying and merchandising, fashion and business, or retail business management.

You could choose a course that includes a year’s work placement to get relevant experience alongside your qualification. Or you could gain experience from a part-time job or a summer internship. Your university careers service can help you to find part-time roles, placements and internships.

You could also do a course at college to get some of the skills needed to work in retail. Examples are:

  • Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Retail Operations
  • Level 2 Diploma in Fashion Retail
  • Level 3 Diploma in Retail Skills

A course may help you to get your first job. You could then move into buying as your experience grows.

You can start as an assistant buyer and go on to become a junior buyer and work your way up. To go straight into a buying role, you’ll usually need a qualification in retail or business.

It’s possible to get experience in retail on the shop-floor, in visual merchandising, or as an admin assistant in a buyer’s office. You can then spend time learning, doing training and getting qualifications on the job.

Buyer duties

Buyer duties are diverse and depend on the employer and specialty, but some responsibilities are common to most:

  • Build relationships with suppliers and negotiate with them for the best pricing
  • Process requisitions and update management on status of orders
  • Update inventory and ensure that stock levels are kept at appropriate levels
  • Select new products and reviewing the old
  • Get feedback from customers
  • Negotiate prices, quantities and delivery time-scales
  • Liaise with other employees about sales performances

Buyer skills

To be an effective buyer, you’ll need certain skills and competencies. The following are often cited in job vacancies:

  • Commercial awareness
  • Confidence
  • Ability to make decisions
  • Ability to cope with pressure
  • Maths skills
  • IT skills
  • Effective organisational skills

How to find a buyer job

These jobs are advertised online, in local newspapers and at your local jobcentre. To find all the buyer jobs near you, you need to:

  • Search for buyer jobs on popular job websites such as; Indeed, Total Jobs and CV Library
  • Use the DWP’s Find A Job Service
  • Check local newspapers and local Facebook groups, especially groups dedicated to local jobs

Buyer Job Titles

When you search for buyer jobs online, be aware that the jobs might be advertised using a different job title. Popular job titles for buyer jobs include;

  • Purchasing agent
  • Procurement specialist

What does a buyer do?

The job of a buyer varies depending on the job role and the company you’re working for. Check the duties and responsibilities of buyer job advertisements to find jobs that best suit your skills and experience. 

The day-to-day tasks of a buyer include;

  • analyse and forecast trends from consumer data
  • attend trade fairs to find new products
  • manage product quality
  • obtain and analyse customer feedback
  • negotiate prices, orders and delivery dates
  • present collections to senior managers
  • track sales figures, manage stock levels and keep to budgets
  • check and react to competitor activities
  • adapt quickly to meet changing consumer behaviour and trends