I was very much reminded of this recently when I saw a couple of relatively 'new' retailers succumbing to the demands of suppliers rather than their customers.

Buyers must be buying agents for their customers rather than selling agents for their suppliers.

Every buying decision should start with the customer in mind, and buyers must strive to understand the needs and expectations of those customers so that they may be translated into a sellable and profitable product range.

There are two distinct aspects of the buyer’s role as buying agent:

1. As a change agent - Buyers influence customers to change their purchasing behaviour by introducing new products and replacing obsolete products. They also educate customers through promotion and thus play an important part in product innovation, adding excitement and increasing sales.

2. As a service agent - By managing the flow of product and determining the choice and depth of the assortment, buyers ensure that customers get what they want when they want it.

As both service and change agents, buyers also act as ‘gatekeepers’ by determining which products will be made available to customers.

Do this and you'll rarely end up with aging stock. Promise.