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How to Become a Buyer

Career News February 25, 2014

Are you someone who studies the market and keeps track of all the new products and services coming out? Does competition inspire you? Then, your skills would be ideal for a professional buyer. A buyer is an employee who assumes responsibility for sourcing new products and analyzing existing products. The intent is to keep the company competitive by addressing the market and analyzing what the competition is successfully selling. Buyers help to keep the company competitive and relevant.

What Buyers Must Learn

The question is, what makes a company competitive and what allows a professional to know the market and avoid guesswork? The first step is to learn what the customer’s needs are and then find products on the market that address those needs. This involves researching as well as planning.

If you want to become a professional buyer, then you research the demand and the products available, arranging them according to the price range, type, quality and manufacturer. Industry trends must be studied, but budgets must be adhered to, and policies should always be honored. You break into this field because you understand the market, and usually a particular sector of it, whether that’s banking or retail.

This role is not merely a research project but also a managerial position, since you manage sales and margins. Within your job description are such tasks as forecast, inventory management, contract negotiations, and negotiating with merchandising teams. You manage and plan for the future by identifying areas for growth and the long-term big picture. Travel is expected in this job, as you will often physically visit a variety of locations.

Abilities and Training Needed

Buyers must work well with other people, but also have great skill in analyzing numbers. Analyzing sales figures is just as important as the ability to discuss issues with staff. Managerial work apart from buying might include managing stock levels and reacting to sudden changes in the market.

Business studies will prepare you for the career, so plan to earn a bachelor’s degree, in order to stay competitive with other applicants. Recommended fields include retail management, marketing, economics, and finance. This is a hard pressure type of job, and so understanding numbers and working well with people should be instinctive.

Learn to think like a business and to thrive on competition. You can also take a step forward, ahead of the class so to speak, by learning a foreign language. This will demonstrate your value to international companies or companies hoping to reach out overseas.

Work experience is important, and the good news is that if you seek to finish your education first, you may not have to start as a clerk or entry-level employee. Instead, you can find a job working in the corporate environment, steadily working your way towards a manager’s role. Finding internship programs would be a good start, as would applying for positions like assistant buyers or purchasing clerks. Remember that some training programs, while convenient, can last upwards of four years. A college education can quicken the process and keep you motivated to move up.

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