How to Become a Retail Buyer

Want to turn your love for shopping into a job that pays? Then, you’re in the right place with our ‘How to Become a Retail Buyer’ guide.

Here, we’ll show you the ropes on how to get started - and ahead - in this dynamic field, where your passion for shopping meets the thrill of making important decisions. Being a retail buyer is more than just picking out items, however - it's about knowing your customers, spotting trends, and analyzing buyer habits to maximize profits. 

For retail buyer training, our suite of retail buyers courses is designed to keep you agile in your career. Each course is crafted by industry experts, ensuring you receive practical knowledge and hands-on strategies that you can apply directly in your role.

What Does a Retail Buyer Do?

Essentially, a retailer buyer selects which products are stocked in a retail store, chain of stores, or online. The buyer will research and analyze buying trends, choosing products that will best fulfill consumer needs and enhance revenue and profitability.

Overview of Skills Needed

  • Working harmoniously with other people                                  
  • Flexibility 
  • Persuasion and negotiation 
  • Customer service
  • Use of initiative 


Key Responsibilities

Retail buyer responsibilities primarily focus on: 

  • Reviewing the selection of products a retail department stocks 
  • Monitoring competition to ensure you remain competitive
  • Staying in the loop about the latest products to hit the market
  • Monitoring trends and patterns in customers’ shopping behaviors


Gaining the Right Experience to Become a Retail Buyer

There are many types of retail buying careers to choose from. For example, perhaps you are keen on becoming a fashion buyer or electricals buyer? Perhaps you would rather work in wholesale rather than retail?

Generally, to get into this career, you will take one (or a series) of the routes below:

  • Work experience in the retail field, at least some of it in a store
  • Completing a college or university course that has a retail focus
  • Undertaking industry-recognized training
  • Starting as an Assistant Merchandiser and transitioning to a junior buying position when opportunities arise

Building Your Resume with Relevant Work Experience


Though a Bachelor’s degree is not essential for entry-level retail buying, having that qualification at close hand can increase your chances. 

It can also help fast-track you to more senior positions. Many people progress to retail buying after starting out lower down the retail career ladder.

Entry-Level Internships and Apprenticeships

To gain relevant work experience, browsing job sites like Indeed can be worthwhile. Being entry-level positions, salaries tend to be low at this stage; however, applicants will get the opportunity to add to their resumes, picking up the necessary experience to later advance to a promising retail buyer career.

Studying for a College or University Degree


Though a diploma may help you land a retail buyer position, a Bachelor’s degree in a retail-related subject can deepen your industry knowledge (though it’s worth mentioning a degree is by all means not essential - just one route that some choose to take). 

With this option, graduate schemes can also give you hands-on retail experience.

Completing Industry-Recognized Training


Whether you’re just looking to get started in retail or want to upskill and advance, it’s essential that you stay on top of your training. As you may well know, retail is not an industry that sits still, so those looking to go far should likewise be prepared to stay agile. And be willing to travel. A good share of buying is done on overseas trips.

At Martec International, we take pride in delivering a range of retail buying courses designed to meet industry standards. Whether you're based in bustling cities or remote corners of the globe, our specialized e-learning platform and unique micro-learning approach bring these courses to you, anytime, anywhere. 

Let’s Get You Started on the Right Training Program

In taking steps to become a retail buyer, you may be wondering where to begin - in which case, we would advise you to take the retail induction classes, which have all the foundational knowledge for those just starting in the industry.

Already have some retail experience? If you’re currently working in retail but are looking to build on your knowledge and move into a more advanced buying & merchandising career path, you should opt for our comprehensive retail buyers course program - the go-to choice for learners worldwide.

Tip 1:
Apply for jobs in multiple locations: The job listings site Zippia recently used their database of 30 million profiles to reveal some promising stats about retail buyer demographics, including the best states to apply for.

Tip 2:
Get connected: Build a strong network within the industry. Make friends in buying departments.  Connect with professionals, attend networking events, and engage with peers. Sometimes, opportunities arise from who you know.

Tip 3:
Seek mentorship: Find a mentor within the field. Their guidance, advice, and insights from their own experiences can be incredibly valuable in accelerating your career path.

Tip 4:
Stay on top of learning and development: The flexible nature of Martec e-learning courses makes them easy to squeeze even into busy schedules.

Preparing for Your Interview

It’s important to nail this stage, as the interviewer is bound to quiz you on how you would handle retail buyer responsibilities such as forecasting customer behavior and closing deals with suppliers.

Tips for a successful Retail Buyer Interview

Tip 1:
Keep the company, role, and job description in mind:
Though this may seem obvious, it can be easy to deviate or run off-topic. When answering questions, always try to apply them to what you understand the job at hand to be, liken it to previous experience and showcase why you’re confident in your capabilities.

Tip 2:
Plan answers to probable questions:
It can pay to research questions that often pop up in interviews for retail buying jobs

Tip 3:
Numbers count:
Discuss quantifiable achievements where your decisions positively impacted sales, customer satisfaction, or the retailer's profitability. Numbers make your achievements stand out. 

Tip 4:
Think of what to ask the interviewer: Why not ask why they enjoy working at the company and what their best retail buyers are like? Asking questions will demonstrate your curiosity and interest.

Advancing Your Retail Buyer Career: Why Professionals Choose Martec

At Martec, we run retail buyer courses across three pricing tiers

  • Beginner-friendly Induction
  • Intermediate Professional
  • Most advanced Performance Enhancer

At any of these levels, earners can benefit from our more than 35 years’ experience providing corporate development opportunities. Our class programs also carry these merits.

Studying As You Go - Continual Learning & Development


We have built our retail buyers courses in such a way that learners can complete them at their own pace.

These programs tap into our subject matter expertise and have multiple delivery options, such as self-paced e-learning, downloadable aids, Ask the Expert features, web-based group tutorials, and more.

Staying Informed About Industry Trends


Our Retail and Consumer Goods (R&CG) WIKI contains not only a set of downloadable tools and job aids but also a body of information that we regularly update to ensure it continues to provide the latest industry insights.

For details on how to cost-effectively access the WIKI on an ongoing basis, please contact us today.