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Rodeo Drive

There's a murmur in the industry,  the stage is set.  

The front rows are graced with celebrities and... B U Y E R S... highlights the role of a Buyer... How do you become one?  What does a buyer really do?  Is it all Champaign and air kissing?

Today pens are scribbling orders,  Australia's fashion talent is on show and the order books are filling.  But what does it take to be a "scribbler"? Those chosen few who write the orders to ensure we can buy fashions must haves..

The Role of a Buyer

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A buyer is largely an analyst.  Buying is a numbers game.  Buy the right product, at the right price, in the right quantity and right size ratio and you are a success.  Short buying could cost you sales and over buying will see you compromise margin.  Every buyer is allocated an "open to buy" which is a budget they need to stick to.  This open to buy comes with a minimum margin,  that is the amount of profit the retailer expects for the sales.  Put simply,  buying is a careful combination of product, quantity and price.  

The Job Spec... A FASHION Buyer

Position Objective

Buy the right product at the right price and in the right quantity,  and make sure it sells without marking down the price...

Key Tasks

Select Suppliers, ensuring they are good designers, with quality product, at the right price. Here ability to deliver and quality is really important.  You've got racks to fill,  being out of stock or suffering late deliveries is a retailers nightmare... Selecting the supplier is a critical role of a buyer.

You will also be responsible for scribbling those orders, managing your budget, getting the quantity right,  as well as the styling of course.  Yes a buyer has to have an eye for fashion but analytical skills are a major part of fashion buying in the end it is the careful combination of an eye for fashion and careful management of the numbers.

Key Skills

Eye for fashion, and intimate knowledge of the customer you are buying for.  What will they buy and at what price?  Analytical skills.  Ability to work a spreadsheet,  understand margins, open to buy budgets, mark downs, profit and loss statements and more. Numbers, Numbers Numbers!  You may have a merchandise planner who works with you buy it's up to you to make the money...  Pressure not just Champaign!

Key Performance Indicators

In 3 words.... Sales, Profit and Stock.  Make sure it sells,  make sure it makes a profit and make sure you have nothing left at the end of the season...

So how do you shape your career for fashion buying?

An understanding of numbers is essential.  When recruiting buyers the retailers are looking for a few key things.  

1. Your ability to understand the customer and buy the right product

2. Your strong analytical skills, a business qualification is becoming essential here.  Do you understand a budget, P & L, margin analysis?  Can you produce and read sales report?

3. Your ability to pick a good supplier, negotiate good trading terms and ensure the product is right

So fashionistas you don't need just have a good eye for fashion for the holy grail role of a buyer,  you need the brains too!  Have you got what it takes?

Natasha X 


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