What does it mean to be a buyer?
Have you ever wondered what it means to work in the Buying Office, whether for a brand or a retailer? You've come to the right place! Discover the ins and outs of the role below:
The career path varies from company to company, but it would be something like the below:
My career began as an Assistant Buyer. My favorite aspect of this role is that you get to be analytical & creative simultaneously. Excel skills are necessary for someone in this position. Knowing shortcut keys is beneficial and allows one to work more quickly. Learning the reports like the back of your hand is important. It's a huge plus if you are able to think outside the box, for example if you realize two reports feature the same information, or you can work with the systems team to create a new report that will allow the team to better analyze data. Know all of the formulas in the reports, and be able to recognize if something is off. Don't hand anything to an executive that isn't perfect - it's better to review a report and catch any mistakes than give it to them immediately so they have it earlier. The role of an Assistant Buyer is to set your buyer up for success. If you are able to work quickly with accuracy, making few mistakes; you're setting yourself up for success.
Market is when the buyers go to a designer's showroom, and see the collection they have designed for the upcoming season (usually at least 6 months in advance). During this appointment, the styles the retailer will feature in the store are selected. Exclusive styles and advertising looks may be discussed. Before the appointment, the assistant runs all market reports and executes any necessary prep work. Once the appointment ends, the team is able to write the order. Once the order is confirmed, the assistant is responsible for entering the PO and ensuring the web team has all necessary assets (ex. fabrication %) in order to post the styles online. Some tasks include, scheduling meetings both inside & outside the company, brainstorming ways to tweak a style in order to make it exclusive or work better for your customers, working with the DC (Distribution Center) on any shipping issues, put together re-orders (order into goods that are working) or transfers (transfer merchandise from one store to another store that's selling the item better), and so much more! The role is what you make of it. One could come in, complete the necessary tasks, and leave for the night. Or, one could request to sit in on meetings and ask to review things with your buyer; doing anything to learn and soak up necessary knowledge & get more face time with executives. It's important to stay on top of your retail math skills because the formulas will be used daily.
As a buyer, it's your role to run a mini business within the company. You have vendors assigned to you, and you & your assistant's eyes are constantly monitoring the brands. You write the orders, project the monthly OTB (Open to Buy: meet with Planning/Executive Team in order to discuss receipt flow for the rest of the season), project how you'll end the season (EOS) and have conversations with vendors about this. When writing orders, one needs to look at how items sold last season, but also be aware of upcoming trends.
The Divisional Merchandise Manager (DMM) oversees a department, for example handbags or shoes, and the General Merchandise Manager (GMM) is the head of either Women's or Men's for the company.
Example of a work week as an Assistant Buyer:
- Monday: filled with reporting. First thing in the morning, you run the necessary reports for your division. You review what merchandise came in & booked out via RTVs (Return to Vendor) during the prior week. Take a look at the week ahead, and prepare for any meetings.
- Tuesday: Get organized and go through your emails from the day before, following up or actioning tasks
- Wednesday: Enter orders or transfers, check to ensure everything is correctly posted online
- Thursday: Schedule appointments, or in-store clinics (where the vendor conducts an in-store training for the sales associates). Visit a store or have a phone call to touch base with managers.
- Friday: Made it to Friday! Friday is about preparing for the next week, and making sure everything is organized and ready to go on Monday. Go through emails and follow up