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Retail buyer: Job description

A retail buyer is responsible for planning and selecting a range of products to sell in retail outlets. The buyer must consider the following factors when making purchasing decisions:

  • customer demand, including price, quality and availability; 
  • market trends;
  • store policy;
  • financial budgets.

Buyers source new merchandise and review existing items to ensure products remain competitive. By fully understanding customer needs, they are able to maximise profits and provide a commercially viable range of merchandise at competitive prices. Keeping up to date with market trends and reacting to changes in demand are key elements of the role.

Retail buyers have a considerable amount of responsibility and autonomy in what is often a pressured environment.

Typical work activities

Typical work activities can vary according to the season. This is particularly true for those working in fashion. For example, out of season, the majority of time will be spent in the workplace (in the office and on the shop floor), and during the buying season, a significant amount of time will be spent away from the workplace in order to assemble a new collection of merchandise.

Throughout the year, tasks typically involve:

  • analysing consumer buying patterns and predicting future trends; 
  • regularly reviewing performance indicators, such as sales and discount levels;
  • managing plans for stock levels;
  • reacting to changes in demand and logistics;
  • meeting suppliers and negotiating terms of contract;
  • maintaining relationships with existing suppliers and sourcing new suppliers for future products;
  • liaising with other departments within the organisation to ensure projects are completed;
  • attending trade fairs, in the UK and overseas, to select and assemble a new collection of products;
  • participating in promotional activities;
  • writing reports and forecasting sales levels;
  • presenting new ranges to senior retail managers;
  • liaising with shop personnel to ensure supply meets demand;
  • getting feedback from customers;
  • training and mentoring junior staff.
 
 
AGCAS
Updated by AGCAS editors
Date: 
August 2013
 
 

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