Buyer Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: August 26, 2022

A Buyer, or Purchasing Agent, is responsible for purchasing materials, supplies or equipment for a business. Their duties include negotiating deals with suppliers, researching possible item selections and taking inventory of current products.

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Buyer duties and responsibilities

Buyers perform market research, product tests and evaluations and analyze competitors to determine what products are featured in stores, catalogs and online marketplaces. They often have the following responsibilities:

  • Developing an effective and accurate system for monitoring purchase orders
  • Delivering a weekly purchase order report to supervisors that indicates the invoice number for all closed orders
  • Working within the management team to ensure that all deliveries satisfy the assigned orders and report any back ordered or missing products
  • Assisting the Supply Chain Manager with maintaining inventory levels and materials on a regular basis
  • Effectively communicating with the management team to ensure all orders are accurate
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What does a Buyer do?

Buyers work for offices or retail stores purchasing products and supplies for a business to either resell or use in the office. They take inventory or work with executives to determine which products the business needs. They’ll then conduct research to find the best product within the company’s budget. Buyers will negotiate a price with the suppliers, track the order’s progress after purchasing it, then add this item to their inventory. Some Buyers who work in offices meet with several departments to determine their supply needs and will make the necessary purchases to help the office remain productive and efficient.

Buyer skills and qualifications

Buyers use a combination of soft skills and industry knowledge to perform their duties effectively, which can include: 

  • Strong interpersonal skills to work with team members, clients and suppliers
  • Negotiation skills to work with suppliers and make better deals for the company
  • An understanding of purchase order software platforms
  • Good attention to detail to ensure all purchase orders are accurate
  • Ability to work with a team 
  • Math skills to make sure all calculations are correct and avoid any unforeseen losses for the company
  • IT skills to troubleshoot essential computer programs

Buyer salary expectations

A Buyer makes an average salary of $57,996 per year. Salary may depend on a candidate’s education, experience level and geographical location. 

Buyer education and training requirements

Typically, many large corporate retailers require Buyers to have at least a bachelor’s degree in business, accounting or a related field. Buyers may also elect to pursue a graduate degree such as an MBA (master’s degree in business administration) to further their qualifications and advancement opportunities. To be competitive, Buyer candidates could have a Certified Professional in Supply Management (CPSM) or related certification.

Buyer experience requirements

Experience requirements for a Buyer can vary from employer to employer. An entry-level Buyer position may not require as much work experience as a senior-level buyer position. It may also be beneficial to accept on-the-job training as a form of work experience.

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Frequently asked questions about Buyers

What are the different types of Buyers?

The two main types of Buyers are Retail Buyers and Corporate Buyers. A Retail Buyer works primarily for a retail store finding products for the business to privately label and resell. They must know how to negotiate with wholesalers to decide on a fair price for products that stay within the company’s budget. Retail Buyers regularly search for new products that represent the business’ brand and fits in well with their other products. 

Corporate Buyers are responsible for researching and finding products that meet the business’ needs and help increase their performance. They constantly evaluate different products and their prices to ensure the products are high quality and stay within the company’s budget. 

 

Do Buyers have different responsibilities for different industries?

Buyers can work in a majority of different industries, where they hold similar responsibilities of purchasing products or materials for their organization. Most of them work in retail industries, buying products for the business to sell. Those who work as Fashion Buyers must have extensive knowledge of fashion and current trends, as they regularly meet with designers to determine if an outfit matches their company’s style. They also typically travel to fashion shows, trade fairs and wholesale showrooms to find stylish clothes at reasonable prices. 

Pharmacy Buyers work for hospitals and clinics. They’re often in charge of keeping inventories of drugs and medications and negotiate with manufacturers to purchase name brand and generic medications for patients. 

 

What makes a good Buyer?

Since Buyers are regularly interacting with other employees, managers and vendors, they must be likable and approachable. Strong Buyer candidates should be polite, professional and courteous to ensure they receive great deals from suppliers and remain on good terms with them in case they need additional items from them again. Buyers must also possess strong industry knowledge and research abilities to know whether they’re receiving a fair deal on certain products compared to other competitors. 

 

Who does a Buyer report to?

The person a Buyer reports to typically depends on their work setting. If they serve on a team of Buyers, they’ll typically have a Purchasing Manager to oversee their performances. Purchasing Managers usually create, lead and execute purchasing strategies and delegate these tasks to their team of Buyers. If Buyers are having issues working with certain vendors, the Purchasing Manager will address and resolve the problem. Some Buyers work for smaller businesses, like a new retail store, where they are the only Buyer on the team. They typically report to the Store Manager or owner with any questions or concerns.

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