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How to Become a Buyer & Take Your Career to the Next Level

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You’ve spent the past few years working your way up the ranks in your retail career. Your job has always put food on the table, but the meals have been more “chicken and rice” and less “filet mignon.” It’s time to crank it up a notch by making the next big leap in your career.

Becoming a buyer is the perfect next step for your future in retail. You already know the ins and outs of the industry and you’ve worked with buyers before in your current position. Put your years of knowledge and experience to good use in a career that could bring in more than $60,000 annually, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).*

Now that we got your attention, you probably want to know how to become a buyer. Before you sign on the dotted line, let’s take a quick look at what exactly buyers do.

What is a buyer, anyway?

Buyers are responsible for purchasing goods and merchandise for their company to use or resell to consumers, according to the BLS. They analyze buying trends, establish relationships with suppliers and negotiate the best price for goods purchased for their company. A position as a buyer is filled with potential. It could be the first rung on your new, fulfilling career ladder.

3 things you need to become a buyer

With your pre-existing knowledge of your company’s needs and the retail industry, becoming a buyer just makes sense. We’ve turned to industry experts and government statistics to pinpoint the three things you need to join this growing field and become a successful buyer.

1. Skills you need to succeed

Buyers have a unique opportunity to combine their natural people skills with research and analytics abilities. It’s easy to see why buyers need to be good with numbers: their main goal is to obtain the goods their company needs for the best price. They need to analyze variables like quality, price and shipping to determine the best deal.

A buyer’s analytical duties might include forecasting sales levels, analyzing consumer buying patterns and predicting future trends, according to Noel Griffith, career specialist at and experienced buyer.

A successful buyer will use the following skills as they complete their everyday tasks:

  • Negotiation
  • Analytics
  • Critical thinking
  • Listening to customers
  • Decision making
  • Problem solving
  • Building rapport with suppliers

As you can see, it’s not all about numbers. Interpersonal skills play a significant role, too. Building and maintaining relationships with vendors is one of the best ways a buyer can score significant savings for their company. A buyer’s relational tasks might include getting feedback from customers, growing relationships with suppliers and attending trade fairs, says Griffith.

2. Experience that will teach you the tricks of the trade

Making the transition to a career in buying is easier than you think when you’ve got years of experience to back you up. Buyers who understand their company’s brand and customer have a definite edge, according to Sahara Pynes, founder and president of HR Solutions Group.

“Experience in a similar or competitive company gives a candidate an advantage,” Pynes says. Employers want buyers who know their company and customers inside and out. Buyers with prior experience in their industry are in a better position to understand how upcoming trends will affect their company’s brand. Your existing experience will give you an instant leg up on other buyers according to Pynes.

3. Education to make you stand out

Having a formal education on your resume shows employers you’re willing to go the extra mile. Though a degree isn’t required for all buyer positions, larger companies and well-known brands are more likely to favor applicants with a business-related degree. Buyers with business or accounting education also have more opportunities to move into related management positions, according to the BLS.

Other relevant training for buyers goes beyond a four-year degree. The Institute for Supply Management and the American Purchasing Society are just two organizations that offer certification for purchasing professionals. You can earn certification through taking exams, having work experience and acquire the required education.

Education isn’t always a necessity for buyers, but your willingness to go above and beyond the minimum requirements will show your employer that you’re committed to both your career and your company.

The sky is the limit

Now you know how to become a buyer and how it could be the next step in a long career. Buyers are perfectly placed to move into management positions in their company by becoming purchasing managers, supply managers or directors of materials management. They also typically have the opportunity to work in planning, production and even marketing, according to the BLS.

Now you know what it takes to launch your new career as a retail buyer. The next move is yours. Learn more about how a supply chain and logistics management degree can set you up for success as a buyer and beyond.

*BLS salary data represents national, averaged earnings for the occupations listed and includes workers at all levels of education and experience. This data does not represent starting salaries. Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Ashley Brooks

Ashley is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She believes in the power of words and knowledge and enjoys using both to encourage others on their learning journeys

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