Merchandise Buyer: Job Description, Duties and Career Information

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become a merchandise buyer. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about training, job duties and certification to find out if this is the career for you.

Merchandise buyers procure goods and products for wholesale and retail. They assess how much their company is projected to sell and coordinate their purchases with the company budget in order to reach maximum sales for the company.

Essential Information

Merchandise buyers purchase a broad range of finished goods and products either for wholesalers or retailers. Buyers should be able to evaluate current trends and negotiate the best price for the products their company sells. A bachelor's degree is generally necessary to begin a career in this field. No certification is required for this job but options are available that can assist in helping applicants secure employment.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in a sales or business-related field
Other Requirements Voluntary certifications available from the American Purchasing Society or the Institute for Supply Management
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024)* 2% for all buyers and purchasing agents
Median Salary (2015)* $52,620 for all buyers and purchasing agents

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Job Description of a Merchandise Buyer

Merchandise buyers, also known as purchasing agents, must assess what products their company should sell, how much of that product they should buy and which supplier will best fit their needs. Perhaps the most important aspect of this career is the ability to understand the customers' needs and then use that knowledge to help the company be more profitable. To do this, the buyer must study and identify trends in the marketplace.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), assessing prospective suppliers is another critical aspect of being a merchandise buyer (www.bls.gov). The buyer must ensure that suppliers can fulfill the merchandise requirements in a timely fashion, while maintaining a quality product. It is the merchandise buyer's job to guarantee that the client is getting the best deal possible when contracting with a supplier.

Duties of a Merchandise Buyer

A merchandise buyer is involved throughout the entire supply management process. Common duties performed by merchandise buyers include:

  • Track trends in consumer consumption to determine which products should be sold
  • Evaluate prior sales to establish future fulfillment needs
  • Research suppliers and negotiate contracts for product fulfillment processing
  • Place orders and ensure inventory is properly distributed
  • Attend tradeshows and conferences to stay abreast of industry standards

Merchandise Buyer Career Information

Applicants may begin their career as assistant merchandise buyers and work their way up to a purchasing manager position. Certification and experience help make these advancements possible. Those looking to advance their careers might consider certification from either the American Purchasing Society or the Institute for Supply Management.

A 2% increase in employment was expected for buyers and purchasing agents during the period of 2014-2024, according to the BLS. The median annual salary for these professionals was $59,620 as of 2015.

Merchandise buyers typically need a bachelor's degree to enter the profession. Though employment openings in the field are expected to grow slower than the national average, merchandise buyers can earn voluntary certification to potentially increase their career prospects.


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