Retail buyer

Retail and customer services

Career outlook for retail buyer

UK Salary Ranges





Currently employed in Scotland


Salary information is provided by the "National Careers Service". "Oxford Economics" supplies job forecasts and employment figures. Due to COVID-19 the jobs market is constantly changing. Some of the information may not reflect the current situation.

What's it like?

You would find exciting new products that you think people will want to buy. You’d negotiate with suppliers to sell them in the shops or retail organisation you work for.

You’d need to be able to spot future trends. You’d need to work out what your customers are likely to want and the prices they are willing to pay. It would be important to understand your shop’s customers and what motivates them to buy certain things.

Most buyers specialise in one product type, for example, clothes, homewares or food and drink.

You would:

  • Analyse trends and consumer buying patterns
  • Go to trade fairs or fashion shows to find new products and suppliers
  • Choose product ranges
  • Judge product quality and get customer feedback
  • Place orders with suppliers and negotiate prices and delivery contracts
  • Present products to colleagues and write reports
  • Track sales performance figures
  • Monitor what other shops are doing
  • Take action to maximise sales and minimise losses

Within a retail organisation, you'd be responsible for one area, category or brand, such as footwear, cosmetics, or beers and wines.

You would work closely with retail merchandisers, visual merchandisers, designers and marketing staff.

Working conditions


You may work standard office hours, Monday to Friday, though tight deadlines can often mean working late. Most jobs tend to be full-time.


You would be office-based.


You would travel widely to meet suppliers and attend trade fairs, sometimes abroad. A driving licence and car could be useful.

UK employment status





Self employed


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  • Positive attitude
  • Building relationships
  • Cooperating
  • Networking
  • Verbal communication
  • Working with numbers
  • Researching
  • Attention to detail
  • Negotiating
  • Analysing

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Getting in

Entry requirements for courses can change. Always contact the college, university or training provider to check exactly what you'll need.


There is no single entry route to this profession.

Many employers look for Higher National Certificate (SCQF level 7), Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) or a degree (SCQF level 9/10) in areas such as:

  • Retail
  • Marketing
  • Business management

Employers also value relevant work-based experience and qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualifications in Retail (SVQ level 2/3).

You can enter a Higher National Diploma (SCQF level 8) with National 4/5 qualifications and one to two Highers or equivalent qualifications.

To enter a degree in Retail Management or Marketing (SCQF level 9/10) usually requires National 5 qualifications and a minimum of four Highers at B or above or a relevant HNC/HND.

With a relevant degree and work experience you may be able to access a management training scheme.

Entry to this profession is highly competitive and many jobs are in company head offices based in London and the South of England.

Useful subjects

  • English (required by most employers)
  • Maths (required by most employers)
  • Social studies subjects such as psychology
  • Administrative subjects
  • ICT
  • Business subjects such as business management

Relevant design subjects such as fashion and textile technology or design and manufacture may also be of value.

You will also need

  • Previous sales experience, purchase and supply knowledge is often essential
  • The ability to meet targets is often essential

You will also need a driving licence for some jobs.

Helpful to have

Qualifications and experience in customer services and sales such as Skills for Work Retailing (SCFQ level 5) may also be of value when applying to courses or entry level sales jobs.

Relevant work-based qualifications such as a Scottish Vocational Qualification in:

  • Retailing (SVQ level 2/3)
  • Procurement (SVQ level 3)
  • Supply Chain Management (SVQ level 3/4)

Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) qualifications will be particularly relevant.