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How do I Become a Wholesale Buyer?

By Vicki Hogue-Davies
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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Wholesale buyers purchase goods and merchandise from manufacturers and others for resale to retail businesses and sometimes to other wholesalers. A bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing, supply chain management or a related area is often required if you want to become a wholesale buyer. Some employers might hire people with an associate’s degree and requisite experience or without any college background but with substantial prior experience in the purchasing arena. Being familiar with the particular industry in which you are seeking employment also can help you begin to become a wholesale buyer.

Joining a professional buyers' association as a college student can help you gain knowledge about the field through classes, events and written material. A professional organization might also offer job listings and career contacts. Organizations such as the American Purchasing Society, for example, offer associate memberships to full-time students in the United States. This organization and others like it also provide professional workers in the field with certifications that signify expertise as a purchasing and supply chain professional. Certification can require various combinations of education and experience, depending upon the organization offering it.

Excellent communication skills to work with vendors and teammates are important if you want to become a wholesale buyer. Having a natural intuition about people and being able to read and understand body language and voice inflection can be helpful when it comes to negotiating purchases, which is a big part of the wholesale buyer’s job. Having some degree of friendly assertiveness also is important to negotiating.

A propensity for math and numbers also will help you perform some of the tasks of buyers: determining inventories needed; reviewing invoices, purchase orders and other related paperwork; and determining resale pricing. Using spreadsheets, databases, purchasing programs and other software also is necessary for someone in this position, so strong computer proficiency is important. Familiarity with using the Internet to conduct searches and find information is helpful.

The job of a wholesale buyer might involve reviewing previous buying trends, forecasting purchase quantities to ensure adequate inventories and developing sales and profit plans, so good analytical and planning skills are helpful if you want to become a wholesale buyer. A buyer's job can be very fast-paced, so being able to work well under pressure, multitask and be flexible enough to handle changing priorities is also needed. Having an attention to detail in order to keep track of various goods and materials also is helpful.

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Discussion Comments

By Monika — On Sep 25, 2011

@KaBoom - A lot of professional organizations offer memberships to students. I think it's great too!

I actually had a friend who was considering going into this field. He did join a professional organization to learn more about what was involved. However, he discovered that he wasn't very good at selling to people, which is an essential part of this job. I'm glad he discovered that before he tried to make a career out of working as a wholesale buyer.

By KaBoom — On Sep 24, 2011

The job of wholesale buyer sounds like it would be a fun job in theory. I mean, I like buying stuff. Who doesn't?

However, it sounds like there is a lot involved in buying wholesale. I know I don't think of math and spreadsheets when I think of buying stuff, but that's what's involved in wholesale buying.

You would actually really have to know what you're doing to do a good job. I'm glad there are some professional organizations that extend classes and training to college students who are interested in this profession. That way they can learn about it before they graduate and get a job.

By chivebasil — On Sep 24, 2011

@backdraft - My parent's are a fine example of how this kind of deal can go wrong. They have told me this story many times and I'll pass it along to you guys.

When they were a young couple, just married, they came across a deal to buy and sell a big shipment of electric pepper mills. The got one in the mail, thought it was a good product for a good price and decided to buy a lot of 5,000 of them.

The basement was filled with boxes of pepper mills that they were sure would sell like crazy. But it turns out that people don't buy pepper mills that often and that these particular ones broke easily and also did a poor job grinding pepper.

They also discovered that you have to have a plan if you want to sell to more than just your friends and family. It takes a lot of customers to sell 5,000 of something.

Long story short they sold about 150 of them and ended up losing a ton of money. But they learned their lesson and now they have a good story to tell (and a ton of pepper mills).

By backdraft — On Sep 23, 2011

Becoming a wholesale buyer can be a great way to make some quick money or it can leave you pretty deep in the whole. The whole key is getting a bunch of something cheap that you know for sure you can easily sell for much more money.

Of course this is easier said than done. There is a lot of stuff that you think will sell but it turns out that everyone thinks its junk. Or you can screw up on the prices, paying too much for the initial stock or charging too much when you go to sell it. There are lots of small variables that have to be taken in account.

But if you can find a good deal you can make a huge return on your investment.

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