Buyer/Purchaser

Are you interested in becoming a professional buyer? In this section you can find more information about what the occupation involves along with examples of the universities offering programmes that will give you access to this profession.

What are the characteristics of this job?

Professional buyers or retail buyers are continuously searching for the best compromise when buying products or services for the company they work for. What is their objective? To negotiate the best prices for quality products, working to strict deadlines. Buyers must, most importantly, increase their company's turnover figure. The procurement function normally appears in a company once it has around 50 to 100 employees.

Working in mass distribution or industry, buyers start by prospecting and selecting suppliers who cater to the company's needs. After this step, known as sourcing (a phase of researching and evaluating suppliers), comes the negotiation of the proposition. The buyer then monitors the suppliers they have worked with in the hope of maintaining a business relationship. A buyer's goal is not simply to get the lowest prices possible, but to convince and work closely with suppliers.

Companies recruiting buyers include: Asda, BBC, Coors, Kimberly-Clark, KFC, HSBC, Amazon, Thomas Cook, Coca Cola, Clarks, Costa, Tesco, Crown Paints, The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), Nationwide, Philips, WHSmith, The University of Warwick, McLaren Racing, Sky, Vodafone, Bentley and many others.

Similar occupations

A Buyer can work in many different sectors such as industry (companies in the automotive industry, construction and fashion are most likely to recruit Buyers), services, distribution and even the public sector. Jobs that are similar to Buyer include the following: Chief Procurement Officer (CPO), Warehouse Manager, Dispensing Optician, Retail Merchandiser, Retail Manager, and Purchasing Manager.

What skills are needed for this occupation?

  • Strong analytical skills
  • Negotiating skills
  • Ability to network and influence others
  • Teamworking and interpersonal skills
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Numeracy skills and IT proficiency
  • Organisation and time management skills
  • Ability to multitask
  • Ability to cope with pressure and make important decisions
  • Capability to meet strict deadlines and reach targets
  • Motivation and determination
  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Commercial awareness
  • Creative and confident
  • Leadership attributes
  • Passion for retail
  • Adaptable

What qualifications are necessary?

A qualification in a relevant retail or business subject if preferred but it is a good idea to be specific to the sector you wish to work in from the outset, e.g. if you wish to work in the fashion industry then it would be preferential to have a bachelor's degree in Fashion Management or a similar discipline. Graduate programmes are also available to develop your skills and add to your work experience.

If you have no degree or related qualifications it is also possible to work your way up inside a company, however this path is much more competitive. Work experience is very important for any job, so it is highly advisable to gain as much work experience as possible in retail jobs before applying for higher positions.

Universities offering buying and merchandising programmes:

  • University of the Arts London
  • De Montfort University Leicester
  • University of Westminster
  • University of Central Lancashire
  • The University of Manchester
  • Southampton Solent University
  • University of Kent

Salary of a Buyer

A young graduate starting off as a buyer can expect to earn between £18,000 and £25,000, with salary increasing with experience. A senior buyer can expect to earn a salary anywhere between £55,000 and £70,000 per year.

You can find job, internship and work placement opportunities for purchasing by creating a profile on Wizbii.

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