Buyers, who are also called procurement managers or purchasing directors, are responsible for finding suppliers, choosing merchandise, office supplies and equipments, computer systems, materials or services and negotiating prices for a company. They review and analyze purchase requisitions, investigate and develop a list of suppliers, prepare bid specifications, issue bid requests and review quotations. Buyers interpret purchasing procedures directly to the management department head.
Tasks of a buyer include processing various purchase transactions based on company and government policies; examining and analyzing departmental purchase requisitions for accuracy; determining method to process requisition according to required timelines, competitive bidding or dollar amount; identifying the needs of requesting departments and developing specifications for supplies, equipments or commodities; identifying and selecting vendors that meets criteria such as price, quality, quantity and delivery dates; placing orders for the required commodities; assisting departments in initiating requisitions and orders; updating records and files; writing bid invitations and requesting proposals; analyzing bids, proposals and quotes, then awarding the contract to the chosen vendor; and resolving purchasing problems, among others.
Education and Training Requirements
If you’re interested in becoming a buyer for a company, you must obtain a bachelor’s degree in merchandising or a field related to the industry of the company, such as fashion design. Large companies also require candidates to have at least five years of buying experience or past work experience in the retail industry.
Knowledge and Skills Requirements
To become successful in this field, one must have exceptional written and verbal communication skills, analytical and problem-solving skills, excellent negotiation skills, marketing and sales skills, mathematical and statistics skills, time management skills, interpersonal skills and the ability to work independently and as part of a team. Buyers must also be detail-oriented and possess knowledge of purchasing procedures and practices.
Buyers work in an office environment, but travel regularly or work on the field to perform research, meet with vendors, scout merchandises or attend supplier events. Although buyers usually work 40 hours per week, many of them work longer hours and even on weekends. Being a buyer can also be a stressful job because they work under time constraints while making buying decisions and meeting deadlines.
Buyers earn an annual average salary of $40,000, with the lowest 10% earning $28,000 and the highest 10% taking home $56,000 per year. Salaries of buyers depend largely on the industry they work in. For instance, retail buyers earn around $47,000, while media buyers earn an average of $38,000.