A Buyer’s Responsibilities in a Buying Office
Buying offices help retailers manage the merchandise they buy for their stores. They are the hub for deciding what consumers want in their industry and help get these items get to the sales floors. Buying offices are typically led by a head buyer. An assistant buyer aids this person in the tasks that involve serving retailers. Assistant buyer positions may require an advanced degree, but experience in retail is a plus. An assistant buyer helps with responsibilities such as shopping for potentially popular items and building vendor relationships.
Notice Market Trends
Head buyers make important decisions based on market trends. Since buying managers are busy juggling many duties, the assistant buyer assists in the process of following market trends. Assistant buyers in the fashion industry may attend a show and make notes of what is on popular on the runway so they can choose what to offer their clients. Noticing trends is about more than taking notes — it is about studying buying history and researching trade publications to be able to estimate what customers may want in the future.
An assistant buyer helps organize trips necessary to see new retail items and purchase them to sell. Certain industries, such as fashion, travel to outside locations to see what is new in the market. Other industries have trade shows that accomplish the same goal. A buying office within a retail chain may have the assistant buyer arrange the details to attend these shows. Some buying offices work for many different retailers and offer this service through their buyer assistants as well.
Keeping track of the entire ordering process is a major responsibility for an assistant buyer. The head buyer has his influence in choosing items, but it is typically the assistant buyer’s responsibility to follow up on these orders. Monitoring the paperwork involved is a significant part of the ordering process. Handling issues with inventory, returns and making sure order numbers are correct is also a part of the assistant buyer’s responsibilities.
Interact with Vendors
Buying offices interact with outside vendors on a daily basis. Because of this frequent interaction, cooperative relationships with vendors are key. For example, the buying office for a major chain of hardware stores has a vendor for specific areas such as hand tools, plumbing accessories and landscaping supplies. Each one of these vendors typically has a representative with a different way of doing business. An assistant buyer has to adapt to each personality in order to have orders processed promptly and efficiently.