What is a Purchasing Coordinator?

Purchasing Coordinators are primarily responsible for arranging for the purchase of of raw materials, supplies and services on behalf of their employers. Purchasing Coordinators are an integral part of any business that revolves around selling physical products. Purchasing Coordinators are in demand across many sectors, including manufacturing, textiles and food production.

Also known as a Buyer or Purchasing Agent, the role of Purchasing Coordinator is considered an entry-level position. Supermarket chains, fashion retailers and any other company with a brick-and-mortar retail operation are the main employers of Purchasing Coordinators. Hospitals and other healthcare facilities also rely on Purchasing Coordinators to stay stocked with vital medical supplies. According to the National Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for Purchasing Coordinators is set to grow 2 percent through 2024.

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Purchasing Coordinator Duties and Responsibilities

The role of Purchasing Coordinator involves much more than simply placing orders. Based on our research of job descriptions, the following are the most common duties and responsibilities.

Research and Evaluate Suppliers

Before a purchase is made, the Purchasing Coordinator evaluates suppliers based on things like cost, selection, service, distribution capabilities and availability. He or she then communicates the findings to the Purchasing Manager.

Negotiate and Renegotiate Contracts With Suppliers

The Purchasing Coordinator serves as the liaison in negotiations between their employer and suppliers. It is their responsibility to negotiate new deals, as well as renegotiate expiring contracts.

Create and Send Purchasing Orders

A Purchasing Coordinator spends a good portion of their time placing orders for products and supplies. This requires extreme attention to detail, as one mistake could affect the company’s bottom line.

Monitor Purchases Through the Delivery Process

The Purchasing Coordinator’s job doesn’t end once a purchase order is sent. They are also responsible for tracking the progress of all shipments and addressing any problems.

Evaluate Supplier Performance

Since the Purchasing Coordinator is responsible for negotiating and extending contracts with suppliers, they must be well versed on the supplier’s level of performance.

Purchasing Coordinator Skills

Purchasing Coordinators need to be smooth talkers who love to negotiate. They need to have analytical minds that allow them to process information quickly. This is a position where being a people person is essential. In addition to these qualities, we found some core and advanced skills that companies want Purchasing Coordinator candidates to have.

Core Skills: The following are some core skills that popped up in almost every job description we analyzed.

  • Strong knowledge of Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Word
  • High attention to detail
  • Ability to make quick decisions
  • Organizational skills
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Customer service skills
  • Negotiation and conflict resolution skills
  • Ability to work independently

Advanced Skills The following skills were not listed as required, but possessing these skills is sure to make you stand out to employers.

  • Leadership skills
  • Ability to thrive under pressure
  • Advanced sales skills
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Purchasing Coordinator Q & A

To get an insider’s look at what being a Purchasing Coordinator is all about, we spoke to Jeremy Levi, Director of Purchasing at Mars Med Supply, a small medical supply company. Here is what Jeremy had to say.

What are some of the core duties performed by a Purchasing Coordinator?

To define the role of a purchasing coordinator as simply someone who does the purchasing for a company is misleading. Yes, of course they make the purchases needed by everyone in the company, from the goods being sold to everything else the company uses, including the toilet paper, but someone who does the job well does so much more. In addition to making the purchases they also make sure everything is on budget; screen the purchases being made to ensure there’s no waste; and to negotiate pricing with suppliers.

What challenges does a Purchasing Coordinator face?

Learning every part of the business. You need to make sure that all purchases are necessary and profitable, which is only possible if you understand what everyone is doing. How can you challenge the software guys on their monthly subscriptions if you don’t know what they are trying to accomplish. It’s worth the extra time to understand everything, at least peripherally, in order to make good purchases.

What skills do Purchasing Coordinators use most?

Juggling skills. Not in the sense of literal juggling but figurative juggling. You play an integral role in making sure the business is profitable; bad purchasing can be the difference between a profit and loss, even if the departments that asked you to make the purchase said it was necessary. You must juggle everyone’s needs with your need to be profitable; you need to juggle what purchases need to be made this month or which purchases can be pushed off a month to when there’s more room in the budget; and you need to juggle your responsibilities to the company with your responsibilities as a co-worker.

What should someone consider before becoming a Purchasing Coordinator?

Do they have the thick skin to make tough decisions; will they be able to challenge fellow employees on items they say they need, or prices they say they need to pay. It’s not a sit-at-your-job-and-click-buy type of job.

What type of person is successful in this job?

Someone who is good at balancing budgets and someone who can handle a lot coming in at once.

What do you find to be the most rewarding about being a Purchasing Coordinator?

If you’re in business there’s nothing more rewarding than being part of a business’s growth. A Purchasing Coordinator is an integral part of any company’s day-to-day operations and growth, something that will be highly rewarding in the long run.

Purchasing Coordinator Salary

The national median salary for Purchasing Coordinators, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $62,200. Those in the lowest 10 percent have a median salary of $37,900, while those in the highest 10 percent make over $100,000. The three states with the highest median salaries for Purchasing Coordinators are Maryland at $77,100, Virginia at $73,000 and New Jersey at $72,900.

Purchasing Coordinator Resources

Below is a list of additional resources to help you further explore the Purchasing Coordinator career path.

Industry Groups
The American Purchasing Society

Founded in 1969, the American Purchasing Society was the first to offer a professional certification for Purchasing Coordinators. In addition to certification, the APS website has resources on professional development and career advice. There are several courses, seminars and books that are offered at a discount to members.

Next Level Purchasing Association

The NLPA is a professional organization that offers training and courses for Purchasing Coordinators. They have a free basic membership that gives users access to their biweekly newsletter, monthly publication and live webinars.

American Production and Inventory Control Society

The APICS is a professional organization filled with people who have positions all along the supply chain. With over 45,000 members and 300 channel partners, the APICS is a large and diverse group that is worth joining.

Contract and Risk Management for Supply Chain Professionals

Written by X. Paul Humbert and Robert C. Mastice, this book is a goto manual for those Purchasing Coordinators looking to learn strategies for navigating contract negotiations with suppliers.

Green Purchasing and Sustainability

Written by Robert Menard, this book debunks the myths surrounding “going green”. It proves how environmentally friendly purchasing is not as expensive as people think, and then goes on to discuss the concepts behind green purchasing.

Essentials of Inventory Management

Written by Max Muller, this book dives deep into the concepts and strategies of managing inventory. Since this is one of a Purchasing Coordinator’s duties, this book is a great read for those looking to enter the field.

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