Buyer's assistants help retail buyers and merchandise managers to purchase and procure goods for future retail sale. They work in retail stores, such as department and variety stores, speciality shops and chain stores. Assistant buyers help with the day-to-day aspects of retailing. They assist with developing merchandise strategies and inventory plans, create purchase orders, report on sales trends and monitor replenishment stock. Some assistant buyers also supervise personnel and provide on-the-job training to new staff.
Primary responsibilities and job tasks
Assistant buyers perform various functions. Some of their work is administrative and may involve record-keeping, processing orders, coordinating receipt and shipment of merchandise, facilitating communications between vendors and internal staff and maintaining inventory. Other aspects of the job are more strategic and involve analysing competitor pricing and strategies, researching trends and creating advertising layouts for publications. Some job duties include travel, such as trade show attendance, tours of vendor facilities, site inspections and training.
Assistant buyers must have both business savvy and technical acumen and know how to use various software packages common to the retail industry. They are organised, decisive and good at planning. Assistant buyers use their analytical ability to review supplier data, identify market trends and forecast sales accordingly. Their diplomacy, communication, negotiation and quick-thinking skills are useful during vendor negotiations and dealings with staff and customers.
Many employers prefer to hire assistant buyers who have a bachelor's degree, some merchandise and retail experience, sound judgment and analytical ability. The job is best for creative individuals with a university degree in business or economics and coursework in retailing or buying. Reading trade journals and other industry-relevant material is also helpful when speaking with potential employers about news in the changing marketplace. A master's degree in business or public administration is often required for promotion to top-level retailing positions.
Career advancement depends on job performance and education attained. Assistant buyers with sufficient experience typically proceed to retail buyer jobs. Assistant buyers who demonstrate strong leadership and technical expertise may eventually advance to merchandise manager positions. Some managers get promoted to senior management roles, while others branch off and open independent businesses. While a bachelor's degree is usually sufficient for entry into the industry, career advancement usually requires a graduate degree in business.
PayScale indicates assistant buyers in the UK average a base salary range of £15,353 to £27,240, with a bonus potential range of £200 to £800 depending on the number of years at a firm. Buyer's assistants employed by companies offering profit-sharing programmes can expect additional earnings up to £1,150. These estimated total compensation figures for assistant buyers in the UK, are correct as of June 2013.