How to Become a Buyer


A buyer is a retail-based professional who selects items for a brand to sell. Their job entails researching market trends, analysing past performances and travelling to trade fairs to choose products.

A buyer works in the retail sector, choosing items for a particular shop to sell. Generally, a buyer will specialise in one type of product – for example, clothes, cosmetics, or homeware – but buyer roles are available across all high-street industries. 

The role is both research-based and analytical. A buyer will need to analyse past trends and make predictions for the future using their knowledge of the market. They will also research what is currently available on the market before making buying decisions. 

The buyer job description includes: 

  • Using data from previous seasons or sales to predict what to sell in the future. 
  • Finding new products at trade fairs. 
  • Getting customer feedback about the quality of products. 
  • Negotiating with suppliers, including order sizes, prices, and dates for delivery. 
  • Presenting findings to managers 
  • Keeping updated with sales and their successes. 
  • Acquiring knowledge about industry trends

To enter the field as a buyer, a degree is typically required. Relevant undergraduate qualifications are retail, business, sales, or marketing. Most graduates join the profession as an assistant buyer and work their way up. This may also be possible with a college qualification; although non-graduates are more likely to need significant vocational experience. 

Work experience is reasonably easy to obtain. Any job in retail will strengthen a candidate’s chances of being a buyer; candidates could work on the shop floor or as a buyer’s administrative assistant. Alternatively, some companies offer buyer training schemes. 

Buyers should be comfortable with mathematics and data, as they will have to analyse large chunks of data when forecasting trends. They will also use IT throughout their job, so they should be comfortable with technology and be able to use database software. 

A buyer’s job can be stressful, and they should be comfortable with working under pressure. They will have to continually seek feedback on their decisions – which might not always be positive. Thus, they should be able to take criticism well and be able to evaluate their choices and make improvements.

They should, however, be confident in making their own decisions and be able to demonstrate and justify them in front of senior buyers and managers. Having sales skills will help with this. 

Buyers generally work office hours. They are typically office-based and conduct a lot of their analysis and research online. However, they also travel to meet suppliers and go to trade fairs – these may be in evenings or at weekends. 

Buyers can progress to management positions or become head of buying for a particular company. They can also move to various roles in the retail industry, such as product management or marketing. 

What degree is most commonly held by a Buyer?

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Communication
  • Bachelor of Logistics

Career Transportability across Countries

Transportability: Medium
It may be difficult for buyers to apply directly to positions abroad, as each country has its own individual market that would take time to learn about. Nonetheless, buyers are frequently posted on business trips abroad. With larger, international companies, they may have the opportunity to work abroad temporarily with the intention to buy for their home country.

What is the Salary of a Buyer?

Experience Average salary | year
Buyer 1-3 yrs $40,000 £31,500 $38,714
Buyer 3-5 yrs $50,000 £40,000 $46,310
Buyer 5-10 yrs $60,000 £52,500 $60,000

What skills are needed to become a Buyer?

  • Negotiation
  • Management
  • Customer Service
  • Retail
  • Purchasing
  • Sales
  • Microsoft Excel
  • Microsoft Office
  • Merchandising
  • Inventory Management
  • Procurement
  • Supply Chain Management
  • *Product Development
  • Product Development
  • Marketing
  • Leadership
  • Fashion
  • Sourcing
  • Visual Merchandising
  • Trend Analysis
  • Forecasting
  • Retail Buying
  • Time Management
  • Apparel
  • Contract Negotiation

Buyer Courses

There is a lot of information that is necessary for being a buyer. Candidates should know how to analyse data, predict market trends, and understand sales. Courses such as understanding consumer behaviour on FutureLearn would be hugely beneficial for prospective candidates starting out in this career.

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