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Alternative titles for this job

Buyers purchase goods to sell in warehouses, shops or department stores.


Buyers usually start on about

$42K per year

Buyers with five or more years' experience may earn up to

$115K per year

Source: Trade Me Jobs, 'July-December 2015 Salary Guide', 2015.

Job opportunities

Job opportunities for buyers are average due to increasing demand for their services, but high competition for jobs.


Pay for buyers varies depending on the size of the business they work for, what other duties they do, and how much experience they have.

  • Buyers usually start on about $42,000 a year.
  • Experienced buyers with at least five years' experience can earn up to $115,000 a year.

Source: Trade Me Jobs, 'July-December 2015 Salary Guide', 2015.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Buyers may do some or all of the following:

  • review stock levels and order products
  • learn about new products and consumer trends
  • talk with sales representatives and negotiate prices with suppliers
  • inspect, compare and select goods for sale
  • arrange for payment and delivery
  • decide how much to charge for goods
  • assist with product range and development.

Skills and knowledge

Buyers need to have knowledge of:

  • the market in which they intend to sell the goods
  • the products they are selling
  • competitors' prices, services and products
  • presentation and sales techniques
  • shopping and fashion trends
  • global product trends
  • budgeting, currency conversion and exchange rates.

Working conditions


  • work regular business hours, but may have to work longer hours when travelling
  • usually work in offices, but also spend time in warehouses and shops
  • usually travel domestically and sometimes internationally, to trade shows, seminars and expos.

What's the job really like?

Noema te Hau

Noema te Hau


"Buyers need to know the retail industry inside out and gain experience by starting from the bottom," says Noema te Hau. "My focus is on profit and making sure the store is making money. So weekly, daily and even hourly, I'm continually monitoring profit, which can be stressful. In a supermarket, where things are happening at 100 miles an hour, I also have to be prepared to be flexible and patient."

Work changes with the seasons

Observing seasonal trends is also important. "Christmas is always a challenge. I need to get in enough stock, especially sponges for trifles, eclair cases, cake mixes and baking ingredients. It's always the small things that count too, like making sure we've got enough hair dyes for the school ball!"

Being part of a team

While much of the buying process is done on computer, Noema says buyers need to enjoy interacting with people. "I work as a team with company representatives to negotiate prices and work out the best way to sell their products through things like product location, space and presentation.

"It's setting goals and achieving them that makes the job fulfilling. I can set a target, for example to sell 20 pallets of toilet paper in a week, and I achieve that by working out the best way of marketing the product."

Entry requirements

There are no specific entry requirements to become a buyer, but employers usually prefer you to have retail experience, or tertiary qualifications in business, marketing, management or commerce.

Many buyers start their career by working in retail outlets as salespeople, and gain skills required for the job by attending trade fairs and assisting with stock purchasing.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a buyer. However, useful subjects include English, maths and accounting.

Personal requirements

Buyers need to be:

  • outgoing, confident and persuasive
  • able to make good judgements
  • good communicators.

You've got to keep ahead of trends all the time. This can involve looking in magazines, searching on the internet, watching television and reading newspapers to keep up to date.

Photo: Noema te Hau

Noema te Hau


Useful experience

Useful experience for buyers includes work as a:

  • salesperson
  • storeperson
  • customer services worker.

Experience with importing and exporting is also useful.


Buyers can choose to gain certification in production and inventory management through NZPICS Incorporated, which offers modules in all aspects of production management and planning.

Find out more about training

Retail NZ
0800 472 472 - www.retail.kiwi/contact - www.retail.kiwi
0800 863 693 - info@serviceiq.org.nz - www.serviceiq.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Retail sales growth has led to more buyers being employed

There has been continued growth in the retail sector over the past eight years, resulting in an increase in the number of buyers employed in retail.

According to the Census, 1,458 buyers worked in New Zealand in 2018.

Available jobs may not be advertised externally

However, competition for buyer jobs is high, and vacancies are not always advertised. Often employers fill vacancies by promoting existing staff from positions such as sales assistant, shop manager or area manager.

Types of employers varied

Most large retailers employ buyers. These include:

  • department stores
  • clothing stores
  • homeware and hardware chains.

Smaller stores also have buyers, but the job of buying is often combined with other tasks, such as managing the store. In many cases the owner of the store also does the buying.


  • Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2006-2014 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2015.
  • Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
  • Stats NZ, 'Retail Trade Survey: March 2016 Quarter', accessed July 2016, (www.statistics.govt.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Buyers can progress to being brand managers or merchandise managers.

Buyers usually specialise in a certain type of product such as vehicles, clothing, food products, electronic goods or raw materials such as wool. They can also specialise in brand management or visual merchandising.

Some buyers go on to set up their own retail businesses.

Tamanda Chinula and a salesman looking at products laid out on a shop counter

Buyers talk with salespeople and negotiate prices with suppliers

Last updated 30 March 2020