What Are the Duties of a Buyer in a Purchasing Department?

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Everywhere consumers go, it seems a merchant is pitching some item for them to buy. Buyers are responsible for what goods retailers sell. Since it's such a critical role, it's no wonder that buyers tend to be very organized and analytical, specializing in understanding the needs of clients. Buyers handle acquisitions and procure merchandise in farming, food, industrial and retail organizations.

Knowledge

  • Buyers must have knowledge of a company's purchasing practices and procedures and be familiar with materials and products within its market. Knowledge of basic functions of efficient budgets and revenue controls are required by some companies. It is best for the buyer to possess technical knowledge of the goods or services to be purchased referring to sales records and inventory levels of current stock. They must have the knowledge of office equipment and systems, including computer software programs such as word processing and spreadsheet tools. Companies prefer candidates with a college degree from an accredited institution with some background experience in the field.

Abilities

  • Buyers are known as negotiators and they must be able to bargain with merchandisers and service providers to obtain products for their company to sell. They must be able to demonstrate sensitivity to and respect the needs of a diverse population as well as keep up to date with changes affecting both the supply and demand for needed products and materials. Since a company's success is relevant to new and up-to-date merchandise, buyers must have initiative and independent judgment with style trends. They must be able to prepare and analyze technical specifications, bid documents, bidding process and results with accuracy and promptness.

Functions

  • Buyers are responsible for purchasing all or portions of a company's inventory. They usually work in specific departments or are responsible for individual products the company deems necessary. They review and analyze requisitions and order from external suppliers while investigating and developing new sources and supplies. They partner with the marketing team for promotional strategies and keep track of all expenditures. Buyers manage inventory and a budget and make recommendations on purchases to upper management for approval if necessary. They prepare bid specifications, issue bid requests and review offers from merchandisers. Retail buyers of purchase departments purchase goods such as clothing, jewelry or electronics. Buyers of farm and organic products purchase goods such as grain, pumpkins for Halloween, and tobacco for cigarette companies for further processing.

Places of Work

  • Buyers for purchase departments usually work in warehouses, department stores and government agencies. They also work for grocery supply chains, and machinery, equipment and supplies merchants. Buyers usually tend to work in a comfortable office setting with a 40-hour work week but may be needed for special sales conferences or production deadlines. They may be required to work until contracts are finalized into late evenings or weekends before major holidays. During peak periods right before holidays, management may discourage buyers from taking vacation because this is when the company needs them the most. Buyers may travel outside of the U.S. and to different countries around the world to find the most affordable and guaranteed product.

References

  • Photo Credit Rebecca Van Ommen/Lifesize/Getty Images
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