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What does a buyer do?

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

What does a buyer do? Many things, including being a visionary for their brand

What does a buyer do? Many things, including being a visionary for their brand

Have you ever wondered where all that glorious merchandise comes from, that tempting eye-candy you see in catalogs and in stores? Someone has to buy it, of course. That person would be a buyer. What does a buyer do and why is it such an exciting career.

For someone who loves to shop, has a discerning eye and instinctively knows what the public wants before the public knows, it this is an excellent choice of occupation. She or he has to know what people want, need and desire, including household products from detergents to decorative candles, food, recreation and best-selling scents.


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The individual working as a retail or wholesale buyer purchases products from a wholesale outlet or catalog for the store she believes will be a big hit and bring in lots of money. She (or he) has to be aware of current trends and fads, popular colors, what people are using in their lives, what people are interested in and also be a bit of a visionary. In other words, she may need a crystal ball.

She must be able to forecast what she believes is next big trendthis is where the crystal ball comes in handy — and she has to manage store inventory and learn to negotiate like nobody’s business.


A store (including catalogs) must be competitive and the purchaser has to ensure she is picking the right merchandise. It must be priced right and displayed and promoted to its best advantage so customers look at it and go “Wow! I want that!” There is a lot of psychology involved in this job and the individual should have good aesthetics and creative flair.

If you are the type of person who never ventures out and doesn’t pay attention to the world around you, this job is not for you.

Know Pretty Much Everything About the Store She is Buying For

The purchaser understands her company’s customers and their requirements. The goal is to keep consumers coming back time and time again, eager to see the company’s latest product. If the customer is dissatisfied with a produce or service, you can kiss him and his money good-bye, particularly when it comes to on-line shopping.

The individual must know her wares. If a woman has never played soccer she probably isn’t the best choice when it comes to purchasing sporting goods for a company. Yes she can learn, but having a background in something benefits the buyer. She has used the products. She knows what is good and what to avoid and can make wiser purchases as a result.

In this job, the individual goes to shows and sales. The upper-crust fashion buyers go to Fashion Week, where they rub elbows with celebrity fashionistas. The purchaser gets to know the vendors well. Ideally, she has a good relationship with them and they can tip her off to new-coming trends and products.

Educational Background

Most have a degree, usually pertaining tor retail management, business, economics or fashion design and marketing. Being able to speak a foreign language is advantageous because some travel abroad.

Before a person can become top in this profession, she must have lots of experience, so do not expect to land a coveted job a week after graduating from college. Get your foot in the door and get on-the-job experience and then try to rise in the ranks.

Yes, you must have an eye for fashion and design, but also understand finances, the economy and what’s going on in the world, both of which influence consumers, and be able to analyze the market and, essentially, predict the future.

Trend Setter

A very savvy purchaser can introduce trends herself. If she intuits something is going to be well-liked and in demand by the store’s customers, even though no one else thinks so, she is ahead of the curve and puts her store in the driver’s seat because it is the first to offer the coveted product.

The individual may take risks. Sometimes they pay off, sometimes they don’t.

A buyer must have her finger on the public pulse and know what people are champing at the bit for. If successful, the individual can make very good money.

Making or Breaking a Store

The buyer can make or break a store. If the individual misinterprets or altogether misses what the store’s audience is clamoring for, or if her productions about color, style, clothing, home accessories, etc., are wrong, she can cost the store a fortune in lost sales, and probably won’t keep her job.


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Since 1996, has been considered the web's catalog shopping authority. Our trends experts have carefully reviewed thousands of catalogs and online stores and have featured only the most respected, distinctive, and trusted ones. From popular favorites to new discoveries, you'll shop and save with exclusive coupon codes!

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