The buyer interacts with different levels of management. Some are individuals in his or her own division, both above and below him or her in the table of organization, or others who are employed in other segments of the store’s structure. In addition to the Merchandising Division, particularly in large retail organizations, interaction may be with those specializing in advertising, visual merchandising, special events, store and department management, and human resources.
The buyer’s superior in large chains and department stores is the divisional merchandise manager. This executive is responsible for such tasks as disseminating the merchandise budget, setting goals for the division, and establishing a fashion image if the store has a fashion orientation. The buyer seeks guidance and counsel from the divisional merchandise manager because most likely he or she has served in a purchasing capacity and has the experience that could assist the buyer in decision making.
Below the buyer are the assistants who help the buyers in many ways. Good communication with these people will tell them exactly what is required of them and how they can better serve the buyer’s needs.
In fashion organizations, fashion directors help apparel and accessories buyers with their future purchasing plans. A good relationship with them will help with the difficult task of forecasting which styles are likely to make the grade.
Whether in a small single-unit operation or a large organization, the buyer usually has an advertising responsibility. He or she doesn’t have anything to do with the artistic areas of the broadcast or print media designs, but is generally the one who makes the merchandise selections. Who better than the buyer to know which items should be promoted?
Through regular communication and a good working relationship with the advertising manager, the buyer is likely to have ads placed that will assure his or her department of the proper consumer exposure. Advertising is the best means by which a merchant “prospects” for customers.
3. Visual Merchandising
In most major department stores, chains, and independent single-unit operations, one of the motivational devices used to attract shoppers to specific merchandise is visual merchandising. Displaying specific products in windows and store interiors in a style that will capture the shopper’s attention in an eye-appealing manner will result in purchases.
As in advertising, the merchandise selected for display is usually the buyer’s decision. Choosing items to be featured in displays that are either trendsetting or are getting attention in the editorial pages of leading consumer magazines (as in the case of fashion merchandise) or those that are price competitive (as might be the case for any type of products) will help promote sales.
With the right merchandise selection and the appropriate display setting, good sellers may become winners.
4. Special Events
Whether it is a fashion show, anniversary sale, or any special store promotion with a merchandise orientation, the buyer is the one who selects the items to be used for the special event. As with other promotional endeavors such as advertising and display, the insertion of the right merchandise can contribute to more sales.
5. Store and Department Management
Although the buyer is often based in corporate headquarters, far from the store’s branches and individual units, a good, steady relationship with the store or department managers is a must. These are the people who learn firsthand about customer merchandise requests and complaints and forward this information to the buyer to make adjustments to their inventories. These are also the managers who might position the goods on the selling floor in a manner that will enhance sales.
Through proper communication techniques, the buyer ensures cooperation that will make his or her bottom line more profitable.
5. Human Resources
Selecting the people who are best suited to aid the buyer in his or her everyday role is not the responsibility of just one person. Although the buyer makes the ultimate decision concerning the choice of assistant buyers, the Human Resources Department plays a significant role in the selection process. Through the proper recruitment techniques and screening devices, the buyer will receive a list of candidates that has been narrowed to those with the most potential. In this way, the buyer is needed for only a brief period to make the final decision, and is saved from spending valuable time that could be used for other responsibilities.
By working closely with the people in human resources, the type of individuals sought by the buyer can be more easily discovered. Although initially the recruitment procedure is based on company job descriptions, a word from the buyer will most often help to give specific suggestions for the search.
When the working relationships between the buyer and the other members of the store’s management team have been solidified, and a regular dialogue has been established, the overall success of the company is better served.