Wholesale and Retail Buyers, Except Farm Products

Wholesale and retail buyers purchase commodities or merchandise for resale to consumers at the wholesale or retail level.

By Julia Mann
Posted 2012

Buyers evaluate price, past buying trends, sales records and quality of merchandise to decide value and yield. They select, order and approve payment for merchandise according to contractual agreements. Buyers may conduct meetings with sales personnel and introduce new products. Buyers negotiate prices, transportation arrangements for merchandise and discount terms. They manage their own departments and speak with sales and purchasing personnel to gather information about customer needs and preferences. Buyers often examine, select, order and purchase at the best possible price. They check merchandise to verify consistency in quantity, quality, specification requirements and other factors.

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Buyers examine and review sales records, trends and economic conditions to predict consumer buying patterns and decide what the company will sell and how much inventory is needed. They introduce new products and conduct meetings with sales personnel. This field also includes assistant buyers.


  • Buyers use computers to organize and locate inventory, and operate spreadsheet and word processing software.
  • They review and permit payment of invoices or return of merchandise.
  • Buyers set or recommend mark-up rates, mark-down rates and selling prices for merchandise

Work Environment for Wholesale and Retail Buyers, Except Farm Products

Wholesale and retail buyers work on both desktop and laptop computers, using several types of business software and systems, including resource planning software, Point of Sale (POS) software, logistics and supply chain software, business solutions software and general word processing software. Buyers must work well with others, as a great deal of time is spent on negotiations and problem solving.

Education, Training and Licensing

Wholesale and retail buyers typically require training in vocational schools, related on-the-job experience or an associate’s degree. Previous work-related skills, knowledge or experience is required for this occupation. Buyers usually need one or two years of training involving both on-the-job experience and informal training with experienced workers. A recognized internship program may be associated with this occupation.

Analytical skills are critical, with sharp math skills needed to add, subtract, multiply and divide quickly.

Employment Figures, Projections, Outlook and Earnings

Wholesale and retail buyers held 110,560 jobs in 2014, according to research published by the Occupational Network Database (ONET). Positions in this field include buyers, traders, procurement specialists, merchandisers, merchandise managers, category managers, product manager and purchasing managers.

Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports indicate that median annual wage for salaried wholesale and retail buyers was $52,270 in May 2014. The middle 50% earned between $38,890 and $70,260. While the lowest 10% had an annual income at or below $29,700, the top 10% earned upwards of $93,900 per year.

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