The buying function plays a critical role in a retail business because it is buyers who determine virtually all of the elements of the merchandise offer. If the buyer fails to get the ‘five rights’ (that is, merchandise, quantity, price, place and timing) right, no amount of slick presentation or promotion will save the retailer.

The effectiveness of the buying function has a major impact on the retailer’s ultimate profitability because:

  • Merchandise is the principal generator of revenue
  • Merchandise typically represents between 33 and 66 percent of a retailer’s total assets.

Viewed in this context, it becomes clear that buyers don’t simply acquire merchandise; they are in fact managers of money. Every decision they make has an impact on the company’s level of turnover, its profits, its cash flow and its return on investment.

Like most of us, buyers often complain that they don’t have enough money to buy what they would wish to.

One of the key challenges for buyers, therefore, is to allocate their limited financial resources in a way that achieves the best return.

What is a Retail Buyer?
A retail buyer is a person who purchases product on behalf of a retailer with the purpose of selling that product to the customer.

They must ensure that the purchase conforms to the following guidelines:
The RIGHT product
Instore at the RIGHT time
The RIGHT quantity
The RIGHT price
The RIGHT quality
The RIGHT colour
(Easier said than done!!)

The role of a Buyer is of critical importance. They are accountable for the influence of trends and how this affects the overall image and positioning of a business.

Retail Buyer Accountabilities

  • Financials Setting + planning of Open to Buy budgets
  • Achieving set budgets
  • Sales
  • Gross Margin
  • Markdowns
  • Stock levels
  • Product Development Sourcing product local/overseas

Positioning in the market

  • Image + profile


  • Type of events + timing of events
  • Product submissions
  • Achieving budgeted return on investment
  • Developing long and short term business plans

To provide a competitive product range

  • Range offered
  • Price
  • Ensure customer satisfaction
  • Price
  • Quality
  • Product Availability