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How to Become a Buyer (Retail)

Every retailer needs to stock its stores with goods that people want to buy, and that’s where a buyer comes in. Retail buyers must know not only what customers want to buy now, but also what they will want to buy in the future. They must seek out new products that will appeal to the retailer’s customers and maintain its competitive edge.

What Do Buyers (Retail) Do?

The general duty of retail buyers is to select new products for sale by a retailer, usually relating to one particular type of good, such as food or clothing, or possibly even more specific. They must thoroughly understand their customers’ requirements and predict what they will want to buy in the future. Bearing these things in mind, they must then seek out suitable new products and suppliers and negotiate favourable deals.

A good retail buyer should be prepared to:

  • Work with related departments to track customer reactions to products and monitor sales
  • Make arrangements with suppliers, including the negotiation of prices and other contractual terms
  • Select which products to offer in upcoming ranges
  • Assess the quality of products and solicit customer feedback
  • Monitor consumer buying patterns and anticipate future trends
  • Go to industry events, such as trade fairs, to find new products and suppliers

Entry Requirements and Qualifications

While it is possible to become a retail buyer without a degree, a Level 3 Diploma in Fashion Retail or a Level 4 Diploma in Buying and Merchandising may help with finding a starting position and easier promotion. A degree or diploma in a related field—such as business studies or retail and distribution—may also help. Those entering the profession without a related degree may have to spend more time learning the trade at junior positions, or start in a more general training programme, which may offer the opportunity to specialise as a retail buyer later on. Almost all of those entering the profession will start as trainees or assistants to buyers before moving onto junior positions and eventually becoming fully-fledged buyers.

Hours and income

A retail buyer will typically work office hours, although part-time positions may also be available. Extra working hours may be required during busy periods, such as when putting together a new product range to meet a deadline. Much of the work is carried out within the office, but travelling to meet with suppliers and attend industry events is an inherent part of the job.

For a full-time, entry-level position, salaries start from £12,000, with salaries rising according to increases in experience and responsibility.


Level of Experience

Salary Expectations





Senior Level



Opportunities and Career Growth

Like most professions, there is the opportunity to progress to higher levels depending on ability and commitment. Organisations often operate general schemes for new recruits, giving them experience in a range of departments in order to establish a good understanding of the business. You may also have the opportunity to study for further professional qualifications once in an established position.

You could check the following websites for further details about the job of a buyer (retail) and some current vacancies:

Are you a buyer or have experience in the field? Add your tips about how to become a buyer (retail) in the comment section below.

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