How Do I Become a Wholesale Buyer?

Explore the career requirements for wholesale buyers. Get the facts about salary, job duties, employment outlook and training requirements to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Fashion Design & Merchandising degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Is a Wholesale Buyer?

Wholesale buyers purchase goods to sell in retail stores and businesses, usually in large quantities, in order to resell them to customers at a profit. As they spend much of their time negotiating with representatives from other companies, they need to have excellent communication skills and a strong business acumen. They will be required to choose between suppliers by evaluating their cost efficiency and suitability for the company in question. They need to have a good knowledge of typical pricing and standards within their industry and be able to compare different retailers in order to find the best deals. Wholesale buyers may also be responsible for monitoring stock in order to ascertain when a product needs to be ordered. Read the table below to learn about the education and skills that will help you become a wholesale buyer.

Training Required On-the-job training; bachelor's degree preferred
Education Field of Study Business, economics
Key Responsibilities Analyze trends; choose and order merchandise; interview suppliers; negotiate contracts
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2% (for all wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products)*
Average Salary (2015) $59,270 (for all wholesale and retail buyers, except farm products)*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What is the Job Description of a Wholesale Buyer?

Wholesale buyers purchase products for sale to consumers at the retail level. As a wholesale buyer, you need to research the market, locate the appropriate products and oversee the logistical details of the order. You need to understand the supply and demand relationship in your particular field, whether it's fashion, toys or any number of items sold in retail shops. Depending on the size of the company for which you work, you could report to a sales team or be responsible for the inventory yourself.

What Education Do I Need?

If you seek employment at a large corporation, you may find that their education requirements emphasize formal training, or perhaps even a master's degree. A bachelor's degree is acceptable for most wholesale buyer positions, however. Consider a degree program in business or economics. Though it is important to understand basic business principles, you must also learn the specifics of your industry. Wholesale buyer jobs typically have a built-in training period during which you can become familiar with the markets and trends of the company's field.

What Skills Do I Need?

As a wholesale buyer, you need to have excellent communication skills. You use many types of written and verbal communication, and you need to be clear and polite in your interactions. You should also have a good understanding of computers and mathematics, and should be able to use these tools to make clear decisions about the commodities you purchase for your company. A bit of sales instinct could help you as a wholesale buyer, as you may have to convince your supervisors of the value of your decisions.

What is the Job Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that wholesale and retail buyer employment over the decade from 2014-2024 was projected to have a 2% increase. Many companies are merging, and their buying departments with them, but the BLS also notes that candidates with formal education, such as a bachelor's degree, have a better chance of procuring jobs in the buying sector. The BLS reports that, in May 2015, average annual earnings for wholesale and retail buyers, excepting those in the farming industry, was $59,270.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

There are many different career paths that utilize many of the same skills required of wholesale buyers. If you enjoy working as a representative for a company, consider pursuing a career in marketing. Marketing agents will sell products or services to individuals and companies on behalf of their employer, needing the same strong communication skills as wholesale buyers. You may also want to become a logistician and analyze the supply chain of a product in order to determine the most effective path from seller to buyer. Alternatively, you may choose to become a purchasing manager, a role in which you oversee wholesale buyers and coordinate their work in line with company goals. All of these professions require a bachelor's degree at minimum.

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