An associate buyer works as a buyer’s assistant in a retail store. An associate buyer assists the buyer in selecting the store’s clothing, accessories, shoes, and other fashion styles. The primary goal of an associate buyer is to select clothing and accessories that will sell and increase sales at the store or retailer where they work. While not all employees require a formal education in the field, some do, along with experience and talent. Developing these skills and locating retailers and fashion companies that are hiring associate buyers will assist you in becoming an associate buyer.
Earning a degree in fashion merchandising or something similar is one of the first steps. Earning a degree not only gives you the knowledge you need to perform the associate buyer job, but it also gives you a leg up on the competition when it comes time to look for a job as an associate buyer.
Getting experience is one of the most important aspects of becoming an associate buyer. Internships are usually required as part of a fashion merchandising degree program. Working with a buyer is a common part of the internship. Furthermore, the internship usually includes training in the other aspects of merchandising that you will need to know in order to become an associate buyer. Advertising, promotions, marketing, sales, inventory management, and working with vendors or designers are common cross-training opportunities.
After you’ve finished your degree and internship, you can start looking for open positions as an associate buyer. Retailers may not hire you directly as an associate buyer in some cases. Instead, they might hire you as a sales associate to learn about face-to-face customer interaction and to get a sense of the styles and other things that customers are looking for.
Some companies may even require you to work in multiple departments in order to gain a thorough understanding of the company before being considered for an associate buyer position. When you become an associate buyer, you will report to and work closely with the buyer of the department in which you are employed. Utilize this working relationship to gain additional purchasing experience.
When it comes to transitioning from an associate buyer to a buyer, having more experience and knowledge can help. You can make this transition within the same company or look for opportunities elsewhere.