How do You Become a Buyer?

Becoming a buyer might interest anyone who enjoys working in retail settings. Buyers are the ones who determine the products that stores sell and the ones who order merchandise for those stores. They can work for smaller stores that are independent of any major chains and with major chains that operate hundreds of stores or more. Buyers must know how to analyze market trends and stay on top of what shoppers want. Most of the buyers working in stores today have a college degree and some management experience.

Get a College Degree

Though some stores will promote from within and hire buyers who have good retail skills, most stores hire from outside and look for those with a college degree. Design schools and other colleges offer degrees that relate to retail careers such as degrees in marketing or business. Graduates of these programs know how to lead and work with other employees, what to do to target specific groups of customers and the basics of supply and demand. Going to college and getting a degree can make a candidate stand out when searching for a job.

Related: 5 Scholarships for Business Majors

Gain Retail Experience

Some graduates leave college and assume that their degrees make them worthy candidates for most jobs, but employers now want those workers to have some experience too. Retail experience is almost a requirement for those who want to work as buyers. Even working on the sales floor and selling products to customers are helpful types of experience. That experience shows employers that those candidates understand what it takes to make customers happy and that they know what happens behind the scenes of a retail shop. Students can gain experience working in a shop while in college or after they graduate.

Develop Practical Skills

Before becoming a buyer, job seekers must also develop all the practical skills that employers look for in candidates. This goes beyond simply having good customer service skills though. Employers want to know that candidates have strong time management and multitasking skills. A buyer might need to order new merchandise while attending meetings with companies that sell products and also holding meetings with the sales staff. They also need to have strong organizational skills and the ability to use different types of financial software. Buyers create detailed reports that show the cost of new products ordered, the profit margins on each one and other costs such as how much delivery costs.

Join Professional Organizations

The Bureau of Labor Statistics recommends that prospective buyers either join professional organizations or get certifications and licenses from those organizations. These groups include the American Purchasing Society, Next Level Purchasing Association and National Institute of Government Purchasing. Each group focuses on a different aspect of buying and purchasing such as buying the supplies that the federal, state or city government needs or working in a retail setting. These groups offer certification for members that is valid for a period of up to five years. Certification can help candidates stand out from other job seekers going for the same jobs.

Every piece of merchandise that a store sells arrives on the sales floor because of the buyers working behind the scenes. They analyze data and market trends to determine what customers want to buy and when new items should go up for sale. Becoming a buyer generally requires some retail experience and a college degree.