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How to become a Buyer

buyer careers

What does a Buyer do?

Buyers work in the buying, purchasing or procurement departments of organisations and are responsible for the buying of goods and services. This could be the equipment required by staff or the stock to be put on sale. The role includes:

  • choosing products
  • finding suppliers and negotiating prices
  • making sure goods arrive on time and suppliers are paid
  • presenting new ideas to senior management teams
  • writing reports and helping to interpret sales forecasts, working with other departments.
Other responsibilities may involve storage and stock control, budgeting and sales analysis.

Some buyers specialise - for example, in the retail industry they work closely with merchandisers to predict future trends, analyse consumer patterns of buying and control the flow of stock. Some buyers are responsible for quality control and work closely with technologists. Fashion buyers may work with design teams when ranges are planned, preparing and giving presentations.

Buyers use computers to record and analyse performance and monitor stock levels. They also spend time reading catalogues and consulting trade directories, and using the Internet. A great deal of time may be spent on the telephone.

What's the working environment like working as a Buyer?

Buyers usually work Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm but often have to work extra hours, during evenings and weekends. It may be possible to work flexible hours.

The work is office-based with visits to suppliers, possibly abroad, so buyers may have to spend short periods away from home.

A driving licence may be an advantage.

What does it take to become a Buyer?

To be a buyer, you should:

  • be able to make decisions, meet targets and work under pressure
  • have a business-like approach, with tact and diplomacy when negotiating
  • enjoy dealing with people by telephone and in person
  • have good creative ability and an eye for detail
  • have excellent planning and organisational skills
  • have excellent communication skills and social confidence
  • have high levels of stamina
  • be able to absorb and assess information quickly
  • have numerical skills to interpret statistics and make commercial decisions.

Buyer Career Opportunities

Purchasing or buying departments vary tremendously in size and scope. Most retail head offices are sited in London or the south east, with some in the midlands. Otherwise, there are opportunities throughout the UK.

Opportunities exist in manufacturing, service industries, retailing, wholesalers, the Civil Service, local authorities, public service industries and the armed services.

In larger organisations promotion prospects are good, although progression depends on qualifications and ability. Small firms have more limited prospects, so buyers may have to move employers to further their career.

It may be possible to work abroad.

Some buyers move into related areas of work such as computing, distribution, logistics, merchandising, stores and materials control, marketing or sales.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Buyer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS)
Easton House
Easton on the Hill
Tel: 01780 756777

Skills for Logistics
14 Warren Yard
Warren Farm Office Village
Stratford Road
Milton Keynes
MK12 5NW
Tel: 0870 242 7314

Careers in Logistics

Skillsmart Retail
40 Duke Street
Tel: 0800 093 5001

Facts and Stats:

  • Napoleon Bonaparte once called England a "nation of shopkeepers".

  • Consumer expenditure per head in the UK is £8,053.

  • The phrase "The customer is always right", was coined by H Gordon Selfridge.

  • The annual sales of digestive biscuits, if stacked on top of each other, would reach 275 miles high That's 4,500 times the height of Nelson's Column or 1,400 times the height of the Eiffel Tower.

  • Britain's first department store was Selfridges, which was opened in 1909.

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