Purchaser Job Description
Purchasers, also known as purchasing agents, purchase tools, supplies, equipment, and/or parts from various vendors and suppliers. Service, manufacturing, and retail businesses hire purchasers to work full-time shifts primarily in office environments. Purchasers work independently in a highly collaborative environment that requires frequent communication with other departments and usually, report to upper-level management executives. Purchasers may travel to the warehouse and storage areas within the company to complete their usual job tasks.
Purchaser Duties and Responsibilities
Daily duties for purchasers vary based on the types of items they’re purchasing and the type of company they work for. However, the core job tasks performed by purchasers are universal in all businesses.
Write Purchase Orders
Purchasers purchase items from vendors and suppliers, filling out all necessary purchase orders.
Purchasers shop for the best available deals on needed items by looking up prices from multiple vendors and suppliers to find the highest-quality items for the lowest price.
Purchasers process purchase orders, updating digital files as needed to record purchases made, when money has been received, and all other relevant information.
Purchasers monitor and maintain inventory levels, ordering new items as needed to keep the inventory fully stocked and supplied.
Purchasers ensure that purchased orders are delivered by coordinating with warehouse and transport staff.
Purchasers negotiate new contracts with existing and new vendors and suppliers.
Purchasers locate new vendors and establish working relationships with them. They also maintain existing vendor and supplier relationships.
Purchaser Skills and Qualifications
Purchasers collaborate with other members of the supply chain, ensuring that purchases arrive in a timely fashion precisely as ordered to keep inventories well stocked. Employers hire purchasers who have the various skills required to fulfill the duties associated with this job:
- Leadership – to work closely with warehouse staff and other staff members within the company, ensuring they are managing purchases properly on their end of the supply chain
- Communication – purchasers work in a collaborative environment that requires coordination with other departments and negotiation with vendors
- Computer skills – to keep digital files updated and manage purchase orders
- Multi-tasking – to manage multiple duties and responsibilities at once
- Organization – to maintain purchase order paperwork and digital files, monitor inventory systems, and ensure deliveries
- Detail-oriented – to find the best rates for purchased items and maintain inventory levels
Purchaser Education and Training
A majority of employers look for purchasers who have a bachelor’s degree in business management or a related field of study. However, some employers accept candidates who have a high school diploma or GED, in addition to past work experience in a purchasing role or within the supply chain.
Upon being hired, purchasers go through a paid training period. The length of this training period is determined by how much education and experience purchasers already have and by company policies. During training, purchasers study purchase order forms, inventory systems, and supply chain operations, generally working closely with upper management until they learn how to perform their usual job tasks.
Purchaser Salary and Outlook
Information provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that purchasing managers, buyers, and purchasing agents occupied more than 500,000 jobs in 2016. BLS projections show that these jobs are likely to decline by 3 percent through 2026. These professionals earned a median yearly salary of $66,610, $32.00 hourly, in 2017. Buyers and purchasing agents buy products for organizations, performing the same duties as purchasers. In many companies, the three titles are interchangeable.
Most employers offer benefits packages that include health care coverage to purchasers. Dental and vision insurance are often included in these packages, along with life insurance and retirement planning options. Purchasers usually also receive paid vacation days and holidays. Some companies might additionally offer profit-sharing bonuses to purchasers. Other perks might include free parking, free or reduced gym membership, and wellness program enrollment.
These books and websites provide job listings, educational resources, upcoming events dates, workplace strategies, and other useful tips for purchasers who want to excel:
American Purchasing Society – This professional association of buyers, purchasing managers, and purchasers offers job listings, career resources, articles, online courses and training seminars, information about certification programs, and professional development resources to help professionals advance in and succeed at their career.
Purchasing Agent RED-HOT Career Guide; 2631 REAL Interview Questions – Learn strategies and quick answers for all the interview questions that employers are likely to pose to new purchasing agents and purchasers with this book that contains thousands of interview questions and the right answers to them.
International Federation of Purchasing & Supply Management – Get up-to-date news and events dates for purchasing professionals of all types at this website, which also contains an extensive knowledge bank full of helpful career resources.
How Purchasing Agents and Supply Chain Managers Can Prepare for a Successful Negotiation – Find out more about the art of negotiation with this book written specifically for purchasing agents and purchasers. The text includes tips on using buying power, negotiation preparation, and how to close the deal.
The Association for Supply Chain Management – Read all the latest information on supply chain logistics with the magazine content at this site, which also provides learning resources, upcoming event dates, and education tools for purchasers and other supply chain professionals.
Contract-to-Close: A Step-by-Step Manual for Buyer Agents – Avoid all the little pitfalls that can derail a good negotiation with the tips and information in this book, and learn how to get to the closing phase of contract negotiations.
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