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Junior buyers help companies with purchasing decisions and processes. They can play a part in all the various stages involved in bringing merchandise to shelves for consumers to purchase. For instance, a junior buyer for a clothing chain may contribute to discussions on which prom dresses to carry in the spring. When the team has made some decisions, a junior buyer may look into lines by different designers for cost and availability. After securing items at an appropriate price and delivery schedule, the junior buyer may be responsible for writing up purchase orders and overseeing the progress of the shipment. When the dresses finally end up in stores, the junior buyer may advise retailers on proper pricing.
Junior buyers generally work full time out of an office. Travel, however, can be a vital part of the position. Besides visiting potential suppliers, junior buyers often attend trade shows to stay on top of trends and learn about potential products their employer might want to carry. Junior buyers and their colleagues may operate in a stressful environment when deadlines loom or when choices must be made. Failure to make the right decisions can mean losses for the company.
Junior buyers often start out as assistant buyers. As junior buyers gain experience, they may go on to careers as senior buyers, purchasing managers or supply chain managers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, job prospects for wholesale and retail buyers should increase 6 percent between 2014 and 2024.
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Junior Buyer Duties and Responsibilities
Junior buyers are an integral part of the team that purchases merchandise for places to sell. Job postings for junior buyers frequently list the following as major duties candidates are expected to perform:
Junior buyers keep detailed records of transactions. Their actions create an easily accessible database of what has been purchased from whom, contact information, and particulars regarding costs and deliveries. Junior buyers may make notes in files about specific suppliers, such as ones that are good at fulfilling rush orders and ones that have previously made errors in their shipments.
Junior buyers help their department research trends and suppliers. The information they garner is vital to decision-making. Spotting the next "hot" item can mean substantial profits for the company.
Getting a good price for items in the quantity desired delivered in a satisfactory time frame is important to employers. Junior buyers discuss needs with vendors to work out appropriate arrangements.
Junior buyers inspect the quality of the shipments they receive. If the delivery has problems, junior buyers contact the sender to inquire about the delay or to fix the order to bring it up to par with expectations. They also may be responsible for keeping track of stock on hand in order to make requests to replenish when inventory is low.
Junior Buyer Skills
Successful junior buyers often possess a strong sense of team, knowing that their efforts contribute to the success of the whole. They are also good networkers who know that connections within their industry can give their company an edge. Other qualifications that impress hiring managers who are looking to fill positions for junior buyers include:
- Exhibiting good interpersonal skills to get along with co-workers and outside vendors
- Communicating clearly to deliver vital information to upper-level staff
- Following directions well
- Attending to detail to ensure specifications are being met and quality of purchases is up to standard
- Displaying admirable negotiating skills in order to get the best deals
- Demonstrating a passion for the type of products being purchased and a willingness to continuously stay up-to-date on trends in that sector
Junior Buyer Tools of the trade
As they go about their job, junior buyers often encounter the following:
Trade shows – industry-specific exhibitions in which businesses display or demonstrate their products
Vendors – companies selling items your company wishes to buy
Computers – used for inputting data, monitoring shipments, correspondence, and traditional office tasks
Material Requirements Planning (MRP) – a software-based system used for production planning, scheduling, and inventory control
Orders – pertinent information containing specifics about products, quantity, timeframe, and delivery location
Invoices – the amount an order costs
Packing slips – lists of what is contained in a shipment
Inventory – stock on hand
Junior Buyer Education and Training
Junior buyers generally possess a bachelor’s degree in a field such as marketing, supply chain economics, or business. Coursework in the area in which you are working also impresses hiring managers, such as studying fashion if you’re interested in a junior buyer position for an employer who sells clothing. Likewise, previous retail experience can be a plus, such as having worked in a housewares department if you want to become a junior buyer of kitchen products.
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Junior Buyer Resources
Especially if you have a passion for the type of products you’ll be purchasing, being a junior buyer can be a rewarding career. Explore your options further with these sources:
American Purchasing Society
Since 1969, this organization has been helping junior buyers and similar professionals to advance their careers and continue their education.
Fashion Buying: From Trend Forecasting to Shop Floor
With business case studies and beautiful illustrations, this readerfriendly textbook has been called "a breath of fresh air" by reviewers.
A Buyer's Life: A Concise Guide to Retail Planning and Forecasting
The author of this book retail buyer is a seasoned who shares her experience as well as provides details on the mathematical formulas and forecasting used in decision making.
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