What does a Buyer and Purchasing Agent do?

Median Pay $66,610
Growth Rate -3%
Citation Retrieved from BLS.gov

Buyer and purchasing agents evaluate supplies, review quality of products, and negotiate contracts. These findings are used to buy products and services for an organization or institution to use or resell. They attend trade shows, conferences, and meetings to remain current on new industry trends and make contacts with suppliers. Buyer and purchasing agents assure the supplier delivers products on time, with correct quantities, and without sacrificing quality.

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How to Become a Buyer and Purchasing Agent

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Most employers require a bachelor’s degree in business, finance, or supply management. In some cases a high school diploma may be sufficient. Employers typically give on-the-job training of up to 1 year or more to ensure the buyer and purchasing agent can perform their job including negotiating with suppliers and monitoring inventory levels. Those interested in becoming a buyer and purchasing agent of farm products may benefit from a degree in animal science, agriculture, or agriculture production.

Buyers and Purchasing agents can also get certified though not required by most employers. Certification usually involves written or oral exams along with work experience and educational requirements. Earning these credentials allows buyer and purchasing agents with experience to advance to the positions of assistant purchasing manager, purchasing manager, supply manager, or director of materials management. With further extensive work experience one can even become the Chief Procurement Officer(CPO).

Job Description of Buyers and Purchasing Agents

Buyer and purchasing agents perform evaluations of suppliers in searching for the best price, quality assurance, and delivery time of the products. This allows them to select the best supplier and product for their organization. They conduct interviews with vendors and visit supplier’s distribution centers and plants to examine products, services, and prices. He or she analyzes price proposals, financial reports, and negotiate contracts for their employer. They also meet with vendors and staff to resolve and discuss defective goods or unsatisfactory services.

A buyer and purchasing agent monitors contracts to ensure the vendors and suppliers comply with the terms and conditions of the contract. They maintain accurate records of past purchases, costs, deliveries, inventories, and product performances. He or she attends trade shows, meetings, and conferences to remain current about new industry trends. They also attend to network and make contacts with suppliers. A buyer and purchasing agent should be skilled in decision making, math, negotiating, and analytical ability.

Buyers and Purchasing Agent Career Video Transcript

Wholesale and retail buyers purchase products like clothing and electronics for stores and organizations to sell or use. They have two major goals: to buy goods their company can sell at a profit, and to increase their customer base by offering products that consumers want. Buyers are successful if they choose merchandise that sells, and fail when warehouses and store racks are left with unwanted goods. That makes for a lot of pressure in this position!

The most challenging part of the job is predicting which items will be popular. To do this, buyers must understand both their product and their customers. They visit trade shows and showrooms for ideas, and research trends in their product area. They analyze economic conditions, study past sales records, and listen to customer feedback to identify buying patterns.

Wholesale and retail buyers often specialize in one or two types of products when working for a large organization, and must be familiar with a larger variety of products when working for a smaller business. They carefully select product suppliers that will meet the quality, cost, and delivery date promised. Extensive retail experience is required to become a buyer, along with a high school diploma, or for some positions, a bachelor’s degree in a retail or business related field. This career depends on good planning skills, decisiveness, and the willingness to trust your intuition.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Purchasing Managers, Buyers, and Purchasing Agents
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The career video is Public Domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.