What is a Retail Buyer and what role do they play in Fashion

Retail buyers in the fashion industry are responsible for selecting and ordering clothing and accessories that match company requirements. In order to succeed as a fashion buyer, you’ll need to have a strong business sense, an eye for trend-spotting, and excellent communication skills.   

If you’ve always dreamed of a career in fashion, you may want to consider the role of retail buyer. It’s an excellent job role for people who are passionate about the business side of fashion rather than the design part. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the role retail buyers play in fashion, and how to pursue a career as a fashion buyer.

What is a Retail Buyer in Fashion?

A retail buyer in the field of fashion is someone who makes purchasing decisions for a clothing retailer. It’s a role that requires business savviness, an analytical mind, and a keen eye for style, among other things. 

Retail buyers will pick pieces based on current trends, past sales history, and upcoming trends. They are always aware of what has sold well in the past in order to make smart current purchasing decisions that enhance profits. 

In addition to ordering, fashion buyers attend fashion shows and events to stay up-to-date with styles and trends. This gives them a clear sense of the market so that they can make the most informed purchasing decisions that will best appeal to the brand for which they are working.

Retail buyers also need to be quite active on social media platforms like Instagram to discover and reach out to emerging fashion brands.

Responsibilities of a Fashion Buyer

Being a fashion buyer is rather demanding, but also extremely rewarding. Here are the typical responsibilities of a retail buyer for fashion.

  • Sourcing and meeting suitable suppliers/manufacturers. Fashion buyers are responsible for finding and meeting with suitable suppliers or manufacturers in order to obtain high-quality products from which they can make maximum profit.
  • Building relations with new suppliers. Fashion retail buyers need to build and maintain good relations with suppliers for a long and thriving business relationship. 
  • Attending fashion shows and events to look for new products. Fashion retail buyers are responsible for sourcing and selecting new products by attending fashion shows, trade fairs, and other related events. 
  • Managing stock levels. It’s very important for retail buyers to ensure they have healthy levels of stock to continually meet demands and turn around a profit.
  • Presenting reports and forecasts. Retail buyers will need to present reports and forecasts to superiors to keep them updated. 
  • Negotiating prices, quantities, and delivery times. In order to enhance profits for the company, retail buyers must acquire goods at competitive prices, order enough of a product, and ensure stock is delivered at an appropriate time.
  • Analyzing what is and isn’t working. Retail buyers continually need to analyze what is and isn’t working with regards to products. They need to decide if a product should stay or go, if a new supplier is needed to increase profits, and other important decisions.

Skills of a Fashion Buyer

Here are some of the skills successful fashion buyers possess:

  • A keen eye for fashion and trends
  • Confidence and creativity
  • Math skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Business skills
  • Ability to communicate clearly and efficiently
  • Attention to detail
  • Analytical skills
  • Able to meet tight deadlines 
  • Able to work under pressure

What is the Average Salary of a Retail Buyer?

Salaries vary depending on the employer and your location. In the UK, retail buyers in fashion can expect £27,000–£40,000 per year while salaries for US-based retail buyers range between $30,000-$100,000 per year.

However, if you’re choosing this job path out of pure passion, a high salary may not be your priority.

What is a Retail Buyer and what role do they play in Fashion

Tips for Becoming a Retail Buyer in the Fashion Industry

Would you like to explore your passion for fashion and business by pursuing a career in retail buying? That sounds like an excellent choice. Without a doubt, retail buying is an interesting and fulfilling career choice. Here are some helpful tips for becoming a retail buyer in the field of fashion.

  • Get a degree in fashion. A degree in fashion or textiles is usually needed for entry into retail buying. Other relevant degree subjects include business, management, marketing, and retail management. If getting a degree is not possible, try to gain at least some kind of qualification in fashion or business. Alternatively, take a few courses so you can hone your knowledge and stand out on your CV. Employers favor those with extensive knowledge in the field.
  • Get experience. The more experience you gain in retail buying, the better. Prepare to start at the bottom and work your way up. While employers like seeing a list of qualifications on an applicant’s CV, it really is the hands-on industry experience that matters most. Besides learning on the job, you’ll also be able to forge valuable connections and perhaps even earn yourself a great reference letter to give to future employers. Show off what you can do, and you will be rewarded for your hard work.
  • Write a great CV. When all is said and done, it’s your CV that’s going to be the deciding factor over whether or not you land your dream job role as a retail buyer. Put time, effort, and creativity into your CV so that it highlights all your abilities, experience, and formal education. Show employers why they should hire you over the next applicant. Remember to also focus on the design aspect of your CV. You are applying for a job in fashion, after all. Employers need to know you have a keen eye for aesthetics.

Retail buyers play an important role in fashion. They are responsible for making decisions that affect a company’s profits, brand, and overall success. In order to make it as a fashion buyer, you need to be willing to devote a lot of time and commitment to your career. You’ll be working long hours in a highly demanding job role and must be willing to travel, depending on the role and company.

Being a fashion retail buyer is an excellent career path in the fashion industry. Besides giving you the opportunity to stay on top of trends and meet with famous designs, this role gives you the chance to understand the business side of fashion. As a retail buyer, you play a part in bringing looks from the runway directly to the consumer. If that sounds like an exciting opportunity, you’re no doubt an excellent candidate for becoming a fashion buyer.

Your journey into fashion starts here…

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