Assistant Buyer Job Description
Assistant buyers provide analytical, operational, and clerical support to store buyers in the retail industry. Passionate and knowledgeable about their industry and company, including everything from market trends to product details, assistant buyers are employed in the retail industry, which includes fashion, home improvement, manufacturing, construction, and many other retail sub-industries. While assistant buyers may visit their company’s brick-and-mortar retail locations occasionally, most of their work is done from the corporate home office. They usually work standard office hours and often have holidays and at least one day of the weekend off.
Assistant buyer is an entry-level position within the inventory management arm of a retail or manufacturing company. They work under the direct supervision of a store buyer, the next position up from them on the corporate ladder. Both of these positions answer to the purchasing manager. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents, which includes assistant buyers, is set to decline 3 percent through 2026.
Assistant Buyer Duties and Responsibilities
We researched assistant buyer job descriptions to come up with the following list of core assistant buyer duties and responsibilities:
Assistant buyers constantly monitor their employer’s inventory, as it is their responsibility to keep stores fully stocked.
Assistant buyers conduct the research that the store buyer depends upon to make good decisions. This includes researching market trends and conducting a cost-benefit analysis of potential vendors.
Participate in Vendor Meetings
Assistant buyers hardly ever meet with vendors alone; they are part of the group that sits in on meetings. They take meeting notes and provide supplemental comments as the store buyer leads the negotiation process.
Place and Write Purchase Orders
Placing orders and completing the corresponding paperwork is a task the store buyer delegates to an assistant buyer.
Advise Retail Locations on Price Points
Assistant buyers use their knowledge of their company’s margins to advise retail locations on proper pricing strategy. This requires them to continuously monitor the market trends in their industry.
Assistant Buyer Skills
Assistant buyers have to be experts in the products they’re buying. Fashion buyers are experts on textiles, while construction buyers are experts on building materials. Assistant buyers conduct market research and cost-benefit analysis to compare vendors. Possessing an analytical mind and a passion for staying current on the trends within their industry, assistant buyers should also be good listeners and good communicators to assist the store buyer in negotiating with vendors. In addition to these traits and areas of knowledge, the following skills are required to succeed as an assistant buyer:
- Analyzing market trends to help retail locations determine pricing strategies
- Monitoring inventory using inventory management software and placing orders as necessary
- Crafting and proofreading purchase orders
- Conducting cost-benefit analysis on various vendors using a strong attention to detail to make sure all the figures are correct
- Participating in vendor negotiations based on needs of store buyer
Assistant Buyer Tools of the Trade
- Inventory management software – this is used to keep track of the inventory of retail locations
- Microsoft Office – used to conduct cost-benefit analyses, create vendor presentations, and write purchase orders
Assistant Buyer Education and Training
The education requirement for assistant buyers varies depending on the industry. Employers in the manufacturing industry prefer candidates with at least a bachelor’s degree in business, business economics, or a related field. In the merchandising industry, employers may hire assistant buyers who only have a high school diploma if they have retail experience. Since this is an entry-level position, many skills and areas of knowledge are honed through on-the-job training.
Assistant Buyer Salary
According to Payscale, the national median salary for assistant buyers is $44,850. Those in the top 10 percent make above $60,733, while those in the bottom 10 percent make below $$32,831.
Assistant Buyer Resources
Are you interested in learning more about the world of purchasing? If so, check out the list of resources below.
American Purchasing Society – The American Purchasing Society is the go-to organization for buyers and purchasing agents of all kinds. It offers in-person seminars and professional development workshops at chapter locations around the country. It also offers various certifications that can help assistant buyers advance in their career. The website has an educational resources section that has lists of books, websites, and webinars to teach and reinforce skills relevant to assistant buyers.
Pocket Handbook for Assistant Buyers: A-Z of Textile Terms – This book was written by a college professor who realized a need among her students. She saw them struggle with memorizing all the various textile terms, so she wrote a reference book covering these terms from A to Z. This is the perfect book for assistant buyers looking to work in the fashion industry.
My Career in the Fashion Industry: An Insider’s Guide on How to Become a Buyer – This book is based on the author’s 15 years of experience working as an assistant buyer, buyer, and purchasing manager within the fashion industry. Her strategy is based on experiences that worked for her. It is another great read for any assistant buyer who aspires to work in the fashion industry.
Fashion Buyer (Fashion and Information Series Book 2) – This book extensively covers all aspects of being a fashion buyer. It has a section that covers the most common assistant buyer interview questions and how to answer these questions strategically.
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