Written by Olivia Rostron
“I decided to pursue a career in buying as I had just finished a Marketing degree and knew I did not want to pursue that… an assistant buyer vacancy came up and I applied as I was interested in the product.
“I have only been in the buying industry for four years, but I have already seen a shift in focus towards getting great promotion deals for the consumer, as they are looking more and more for a great deal or a great value for money product now. There is also a focus on creating an experience in store for the customer; retail is not purely just a transactional experience now. There is also a great deal of price matching in retail now, which drives us harder to get discounted deals to recoup lost margin.
“In the next 10 years, I am unsure as to how the buying role will change, as the current model is unsustainable. Constant discounting and price matching is hugely detrimental to profit margins and will only lead to closure of businesses.
“In terms of adapting, I think it is really important for buyers to communicate with their suppliers to create a symbiotic relationship. It will also be important that Buyers observe the market they are in more closely, to see any changes that may affect them so they can react quickly.
“The hardest thing about being in the Buying sector at the moment would be the market. I buy fashion products for a local department store chain, and it is very difficult to stand out in the current environment. As mentioned before, the price matching activity is something that needs to be constantly observed, to make sure we are in line with our competitors in the market, but that isn’t always easy. Competitors may have a bigger buying power (such as John Lewis), as they are buying more volume so can negotiate better prices, meaning if they offer a discount, it will not affect their margin so much. Retail overall seems tougher at the moment, Brexit is an uncertainty on the consumer’s mind and people aren’t spending so much.
“I have learnt a huge amount in my personal skills; communication and negotiation being the key two. Meeting suppliers daily (I probably deal with 50+) meant that I had to increase these skills and learn on the job, which was a great way to get up to speed quickly.
Loren’s Hints and Tips
“Always listen to your gut feeling when looking at product! It is important to think about the commerciality of a product or range, but listen to your intuition as well! Communicate with as many people (externally and internally) as possible, network building is really important and you never know when you might need a favour!”