Job description: Buyer

Written by: CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs
Published on: 31 Jul 2019

Buyers research, evaluate and purchase merchandise such as clothing, electronic goods, food etc. to resell to customers at retail or wholesale companies.

Image of two colleagues working on stats

It is an important role as profitability can be affected by how successful a buyer is in their work. Since a buyer can enhance profits by effectively negotiating and sourcing the best goods at competitive prices. Buyers must understand their target market and be able to predict future trends so that they can purchase what the customer wants.

What are the duties of a buyer?

With the main focus of their role to select the best products and buy at reasonable prices to generate profit for their organisation, the buyer’s responsibilities revolve around this task.

Key responsibilities may include:

  • Identifying the organisations purchasing needs
  • Researching, selecting and purchasing quality products and materials
  • Building relationships with suppliers and negotiating with them for the best price, quantities and delivery timescales
  • Processing requisitions and updating management on the status of orders
  • Updating inventory and managing stock levels
  • Arranging transport of goods and tracking orders to ensure timely delivery
  • Understanding the target market and analysing trends in order to make informed buying decisions
  • Coordinating with inventory team, management, and stockroom
  • Monitoring the stock quality and escalating any discrepancies to suppliers and management

What salary can you expect as a buyer?

How much you can earn as a buyer depends on your seniority in the role. However, even entry-level roles tend to pay well with starting salaries between £18,000 and £25,000 in the UK.

This increases to £35,000-60,000 as you gain more experience, with senior buyers earning £55,000-70,000 a year, depending on the location and size of the organisation.

If you’re interested in buyer roles, search CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs for current opportunities.

What personal qualities and skills are required to be a buyer?

Buyers are skilled negotiators and have a natural ability to build relationships. They are great at recognising business needs and making decisions, as such there are a select group of skills needed to succeed in the profession.

Here are the key skills needed to excel as a buyer:

  • Commercial awareness
  • Interpersonal skills, particularly in negotiating
  • Ability to make decisions
  • Ability to cope with pressure and adapt to situations
  • Analytical skills
  • Maths skills
  • IT skills
  • Able to work well in a team
  • Good organisational skills
  • Can remain calm under pressure
  • Creative mindset

What qualifications does a buyer require?

Like many roles in the profession, you do not need any specific qualifications to become a buyer. However, depending on the company and job level, you may be required to have a degree in a relevant subject, such as business, marketing, mathematics or finance with most employers accepting a 2:2 or above in the UK.

Alternatively, a buyer apprenticeship could be a good first step towards a career in purchasing and can give you the edge on graduates as you learn on the job. UK apprenticeships are available at different levels which means there’s something for people at different stages in their careers.

The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) also offers a range of qualifications for its members that are available globally and recognised throughout the profession.

How do you get started in your purchasing career?

As the industry body for procurement and supply, CIPS can really help you kick-start your career or take the next step up. Search available qualifications here.

Typical entry-level roles include:

  • Buyer’s Assistant
  • Junior Buyer
  • Finance Assistant
  • Procurement Assistant

If you’d like to see some examples of the opportunities available, have a look at the positions advertised through CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs, the official jobs board for CIPS.

What career progression opportunities exist for buyers?

The job market is looking promising for buyers with plenty of opportunities for progression into specialisms or senior roles.

Typical roles include:

  • Senior buyer
  • Direct buyer
  • Indirect buyer
  • Strategic buyer
  • Procurement buyer
  • Purchasing manager
  • Head of purchasing

Whatever you’re wanting from your career as a buyer, CIPS and its publication CIPS Procurement & Supply can help. Whether that’s keeping up to date with industry news and trends, personal development or searching for your next adventure. Why not have a scroll through our jobs site now?

Search CIPS Procurement & Supply Jobs for buyer roles