Retail Buyer: Career Profile, Employment Outlook and Education Requirements

Explore the career requirements for retail buyers. Get the facts about education, salary, and potential job growth 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 Retail Buyer?

Retail buyers monitor trends and choose which products to sell at a store. They are often employed at large companies to help them stay on the cutting edge of trends, though job opportunities are available in many different types of businesses. Retail buyers consider multiple factors when deciding what a company should purchase for resale, with research on products and competitors being a large responsibility of the job. It will be your responsibility to forge good relationships with suppliers as well, in order to ensure your company can secure the best deals on products and any potential advantage in the marketplace.

Read more about this career path in the chart below.

Degree Required Larger companies often require a bachelor's degree, while some require only a high school education
Education Field of Study Business, economics or a related field
Training Required Trainee program of 1-5 years
Job Growth (2018-2028) -7% for buyers and purchasing agents*
Median Salary (2018) $62,750 for buyers and purchasing agents*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

What Is the Career Profile of a Retail Buyer?

As a retail buyer, you'll shop around for the best deals on wholesale products that your company could resell to consumers. You'll consider quality, price, inventory levels, and consumer appeal when searching for products. To ensure that you choose products that consumers will buy, you'll keep track of sales, research trends, monitor your company's competitors, and keep up-to-date of economic conditions. It is important that you form good relationships with suppliers, so you may attend trade shows or conferences, read industry publications, search online for information, or conduct interviews to evaluate suppliers. Once you choose some suppliers, you'll need to negotiate prices and terms, sign contracts, place orders, and arrange delivery of the products.

If you work for a larger company, you may only be responsible for buying a single line of merchandise. However, if you work for a small store, you may be responsible for buying the store's entire inventory. Part of your job may also involve setting retail prices for the products that you acquire, developing purchasing budgets and approving merchandising displays.

What Is the Predicted Employment Outlook?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that employment of buyers and purchasing agents is predicted to decline 7% between 2018 and 2028. Employment growth for retail buyers is predicted to be limited because of the adoption of centralized buying departments and the consolidation of multiple buying departments in the retail industry. To maximize your chances of finding employment as a retail buyer, you may want to consider earning a bachelor's degree.

Are There Any Education Requirements?

Although different employers have different education requirements, the BLS states that many companies, especially larger stores, prefer to hire those who have a bachelor's degree in business or a related subject. Employers may also prefer applicants who are familiar with their merchandise, are computer-literate, and have retail experience.

Whether you earn a degree or not, you'll begin your career working as a trainee for a period of 1-5 years. As a trainee, your responsibilities may include keeping inventory, checking invoices, and selling merchandise. Over time, you'll be introduced to more and more buying duties. To advance your career, you generally need to participate in continuing education, which may include attending seminars or taking college courses.

What Are Some Related Careers?

One similar career to retail buying would be bookkeeping, accounting, and auditing. These kinds of clerks perform a variety of financial duties for organizations in all industries. Little college education is usually required for these careers, though some basic accounting training is typically essential. Another alternative career option could involve purchasing management, which involves overseeing and directing the activities of retail buyers within their company. A bachelor's degree is the basic academic requirement for this career, though extensive experience is required by most employers. If you're interested in the efficiency of business supply chains or how goods and services and delivered, you might consider working as a logistician - a job that requires a bachelor's degree.

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