Purchasing Assistant Job Description: Top Duties and Qualifications

Last updated: June 22, 2022

A Purchasing Assistant, or Assistant Buyer, is responsible for supporting business operations by ordering products or materials that agree with their employer’s brand. Their duties include maintaining relationships with Suppliers, Vendors or Wholesalers, placing orders for products based on current inventory needs and tracking shipments from manufacturing locations to retail stores or company warehouses.

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Purchasing Assistant duties and responsibilities

Purchasing assistants must maintain good relationships with the organization’s vendors. They perform market research to get the best deals for the company and ensure timely delivery of products and materials. Here are some examples of Purchasing Assistant duties:

  • Working with the purchasing manager to run the purchasing department 
  • Performing vendor research and selection to enhance profitability, reducing operating costs and boosting efficiency
  • Maintaining cordial working relationships with vendors and supervising vendor activities
  • Signing and reviewing purchasing agreements with vendors, monitoring their performance and renegotiating contracts
  • Using quarterly and annual data to determine purchasing needs and performing inventory management
  • Managing purchase orders, overseeing shipping schedules and maintaining purchase records 
  • Working with warehouse staff to compare deliveries with purchase orders to identify discrepancies
  • Conducting ongoing market research to identify beneficial purchase agreements and potential vendors 
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What does a Purchasing Assistant do?

Purchasing Assistants typically work for corporations across industries, including retail, healthcare and other industries that require the purchase or sale of products. They work closely with other Purchasing Assistants, Salespeople, Accountants and Logistics Specialists to determine budgets for purchasing products, the types of products to buy and the progress of inventory shipments. Their job is it review sales numbers and order products based on customer demand and seasonal trends. They may be responsible for updating Vendor or Wholesaler contact information and renewing Vendor contracts.

Purchasing Assistant skills and qualifications

A successful Purchasing Assistant candidate will have various prerequisite skills and qualifications needed for duties. This section can include specific educational credentials, skills and experiences you want in the ideal candidate. Some Purchasing Asisstant qualifications include the following:

  • High school diploma or equivalent (Associate Degree or B.Sc. in Logistics, Purchase and Supply, Business Administration or related fields are typically preferred) 
  • At least two years of experience in a purchasing position
  • In-depth knowledge of purchasing functions, inventory and supply management systems
  • Excellent communication, negotiation and interpersonal skills
  • Ability to work with minimal supervision
  • Strong organizational skills, a good understanding of sourcing and the ability to maintain vendor relationships
  • Direct experience with spreadsheet computer applications 
  • Ability to use purchasing software 

Purchasing Assistant salary expectations

A Purchasing Assistant makes an average of $16.19 per hour. Pay rate may depend on level of experience, education and the geographical location. 

Purchasing Assistant education and training requirements

Most people can get Purchasing Assistant positions with a high school diploma or GED. However, some roles require at least an associate degree or Bachelor’s degree in Supply Management or a related field. Purchasing Assistants with clerical and administrative experience or knowledge of inventory management have an advantage over other applicants. 

Employers often provide extensive training after hiring candidates to familiarize them with their operating protocols, purchasing software and inventory management systems. With enough job experience and advanced education, a Purchasing Assistant can move to senior roles such as a Purchasing Manager, Supply Chain Manager and related positions. 

Purchasing Assistant experience requirements

A successful Purchasing Assistant will be proficient in purchase, supply and inventory management. The position requires good client service skills to collaborate with different departments, support managers and work with vendors. They also need clerical skills to prepare and track orders, maintain purchase records and file reports. Vendor selection and negotiation require impeccable relationship management skills to ensure the organization picks only the best and most reliable contractors. 

Purchasing Assistants need excellent written and verbal communication skills to negotiate contracts, work with shippers, colleagues and the purchasing manager. Purchasing Assistants should also have a fundamental knowledge of computer programs. This will enable them to learn how to use their company’s preferred purchasing and inventory management software. 

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Frequently asked questions about Purchasing Assistants

 

What is the difference between a Purchasing Assistant and a Salesperson?

The difference between a Purchasing Assistant and a Salesperson is the departments they work for and their job focus areas. For example, Purchasing Assistants typically work within the purchasing department. Their job is to monitor inventory logs, order products and check shipments for accuracy. In contrast, Salespeople typically work within the sales department of an organization. They make cold calls to potential leads and notify existing customers of sales or new product offerings. 

Another way to differentiate between a Purchasing Assistant and a Salesperson is that Purchasing Assistants order products to ensure they maintain adequate stock, whereas Salespeople sell those products to consumers.

 

What are the daily duties of a Purchasing Assistant?

On a typical day, a Purchasing Assistant starts by checking their email and voicemail to see if they have any updates on product needs or budgeting expenses. They review the progress of certain shipments and record estimated delivery times. Throughout the day, they participate in meetings with the purchasing, accounting and sales departments to determine which products did well and didn’t during the previous quarter. 

During downtime at their desk, Purchasing Assistants contact Vendors to renew contracts or order more shipments. They also use this time to research potential new Vendors who offer wholesale products that align with their employer’s needs and price point.

 

What qualities make a good Purchasing Assistant?

A good Purchasing Assistant is someone who has excellent interpersonal communication. This quality enables them to make meaningful professional connections with Vendors and Wholesalers. They understand consumer trends within their industry and use their knowledge to purchase unique and relevant products. Further, a good Purchasing Assistant should be able to use persuasive language to negotiate shipment prices with Vendors. 

A good Purchasing Assistant should also have a detail-oriented mindset, allowing them to check over order details before placing orders. This ensures they don’t order the wrong type or amount of particular product.

 

Who does a Purchasing Assistant report to?

A Purchasing Assistant typically reports to the Purchasing Manager within a corporation. These individuals are in charge of relaying information to Purchasing Assistants about budgeting and new Vendors to contact. Purchasing Assistants may also report indirectly to a Purchaser or Buyer who works within their department to help them track orders and contact Vendors.

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    Last updated: Apr 28, 2021