Retail Buyer

Occupation Information table
Overview: Retail buyers decide what merchandise will be offered for sale by their company. They inspect and grade merchandise and decide which goods offer the best buy. They analyze consumer survey data to decide what kinds of merchandise will be most in demand by customers. Buyers often set merchandise resale prices.
Duties: The role of the retail buyer is critical to the success of a retail establishment. Retail buyers purchase the merchandise that their company will sell. Buyers often specialize in what they buy. For example, a buyer for a department store may buy only shoes. However, in small companies, one buyer may buy all the products.

Retail buyers design and conduct surveys of customer preferences, needs, and willingness to pay for new products and merchandise. They determine what products will best satisfy customer preferences basing their decisions on the potential appeal the products would have to customers of the retail sales company. This is based on knowledge of cutomer tastes, changing trends, and a balance of quality and value. To make informed decisions they study marketing research reports, industry and trade publications and trends in the economy. They track market conditions, price trends, or the futures market. Many buyers use computers to track this data. They also use computers to monitor inventory and sales.

They attend exhibits, shows and presentations for new products. Retail buyers review the history and quality of the suppliers and may travel to factories to examine products. They make choices and try to bargain for a lower price on the goods. They then arrange purchases from manufacturers. They determine delivery dates and prices for the products and authorize payments for the merchandise upon receipt.

Retail buyers plan and conduct staff meetings with managers and salespersons in the retail stores to introduce the new products to them and advise them of sales strategies to use. Some large department stores employ fashion coordinators to work with buyers in selecting merchandise.

The most promising buyers become merchandising managers whose role is to supervise buyers. Buyers who have been promoted through management levels may reach the position of corporate merchandise manager.

Degree(s): A.A.S. Accounting 
A.A.S. Management: Marketing Concentration 
A.S. Business Administration (Accounting and Marketing) 
Job Outlook: Employment in this field is projected to grow 5% to 8% percent from 2018 to 2028, which matches the average growth rate for all occupations.
Salary Range (National Average): $29,000 to $37,000
Green: Green Career
Education Level: Training for this occupation generally requires an Associate Degree from a 2 year or community college.
Additional Training/Education: Large stores and distributors accept applicants with either an associate's or bachelor's degree in business administration. Training in computer applications is essential. Employers prefer to hire people who know how to use computers, especially word processing and spreadsheet software and who have good math skills. Employers look for people who understand customers, are resourceful, can make quick and good decisions about products and have leadership and negotiating skills.
Recommended Skills:
  • Weighing out the options in a situation or a problem and logically choosing the best course of action.
  • Actively looking for ways to help people.
  • Paying attention to what other people are saying, and taking time to understand the points being made.
  • The ability to make appropriate use of equipment and materials to get a job done.
  • Allocating and budgeting your time for different tasks so that things get done when needed.
  • Using mathematics and/or statistics to solve problems.
  • Bringing people together to discuss and resolve differences.
  • The ability to understand complex written paragraphs, instructions, or reports.
  • Using logic to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Talking, giving speeches, or speaking in a group to convey information, explain ideas, or give instructions.
  • Teaching others how to do something.
Recommended Values:
  • Being able to decide on how to get something done without significant direction from someone else.
  • Having a routine job where the duties are very predictable and not likely to change over a long period of time.

* National data collected by the Department of Labor in 2014 with projections through 2024. For New York green job information .

* For New York salary data information .

* For New York green job information .

Understanding acquiring positions in this field may be enhanced through continuing academic study (i.e. earning a baccalaureate or a master's degree) and/or work experience in the field, Queensborough Community College has established transfer agreements with other institutions for students who wish to further pursue their educational goals. Students are highly encouraged to meet with one of our Career Services to fully understand the opportunities available through study in their degree program.