I’ve wanted to write this post for awhile now because I wanted to share with you all what my full time job is! Currently, I am working as an assistant buyer for a east coast department store. The company operated 49 stores and with my buyer, I am responsible for buying, stocking and managing the young men’s and boys 4-7 clothing departments. Most people don’t know the specifics for what buyers do, they mainly think that we just go shopping all the time and raid the sample closets for cute clothing. I’m here to share my day to day life as an assistant buyer and what exactly my job is.
4 out of the 5 days that I’m working, I am at my desk in the corporate office. Monday’s are mostly spent going over sales from the last week, analyzing what products sold or not, and going over what we’re going to price products for the next week. Monday’s are not glamorous, they are actually the worst and busiest day of the week. The second busiest day is Friday believe it or not. Tuesday’s are all about advertising and pricing. Our company runs a lot of newspaper and television ads so we have to come up with that content. I spend most of my mornings writing up ad copy and sending clothing sample to the photo studio to be shot for the ads. During the afternoon I spend all my time updating the prices of items that are advertised or unadvertised and I make new signs for the store to put out on their floors.
Wednesdays we are in NYC and I will explain what we do their in a second. On Thursdays I am usually working on putting together orders, entering them, talking to vendors about style numbers, UPC’s, MSRP’s and retail prices. That part is actually interesting because you are entering orders for products that will be on the selling floors in each stores in a couple months. We work out a whole year in advance so we just finished buying spring/summer 2020 and now we’re working on fall/winter 2020. Friday’s are very hectic days because we are making sure that everything we did during the week gets finished. Editing those newspaper ads is a big part of my job because we have to make sure everything that is shown is correct from the percentages off to the prices and images.
What people are mostly in awe about is how I get to go to New York City mostly every Wednesday for work. Our work supplies a bus for all the buyers and assistants to take, I get on around 7:30 am and we arrive in the city around 9:30-10 am depending on traffic. What we do here all day is visit clothing vendor and they show us what products we should sell in our stores each season. Currently, we have over 75 vendors that we carry their clothing and accessories in our stores. We usually see about 5-6 a vendors a day for an hour or two at a time. Our trips are usually day trips however, during the busy season we do stay in a hotel overnight.
During our time with each vendor they show us their line of products that they believe our customers would buy. They hand us a book of images of the products or CAD’s that we take notes on. We talk garment construction, color analysis, styling, sizing and pricing with them. Visiting and talking with each of these vendors is all about creating a professional relationship with them so that they give you a good deal and ship your products on time.
We get back on the bus around 5 pm and I don’t get home until 7:30 pm. It’s usually a 12 hour day and usually I’m so tired all I do is shower and go to bed. Walking around the city all day can be very tiring.
Back at the office on Thursday, we take those CAD’s that the vendors gave us and plan out what we are going to buy for the next season. We analyze past sales data, color and size trends, and we decide on what price we are going to sell them for. It sounds like an easy process, you just pick the designs that you like and send the vendor the order, it’s nothing like that. That’s the biggest misconception about buying, you’re not buying products that YOU like, you’re buying products that have a sales history of doing well and you think the customers will buy a product that is similar to it. Once we decide what we’re going to buy we have to go through an approval process with the divisional managers and have them look everything over. When they give us the okay that is when we begin enter the orders, sending them to vendors and deciding which store to give the merchandise too.
Another part of being an assistant buyer that no one really thinks about is managing the stores that you buy the products for. Every day I talk with store and department managers about their inventory levels, when products will be shipping to them, and how they should display everything. They call me with pricing questions about new merchandise that just came in and they call to ask me for signs and other random things. It seem annoying with 49 store managers calling me all the time but it’s actually nice because you develop professional relationships with them and you get to know more about their lives and how their store is doing.
During the month of December we actually travel to the stores near us. We work in the stores on Thursday’s and Saturday’s in December up until Christmas. Having to drive to each of these stores does suck but we do get paid for gas mileage and we get a free lunch! We usually spend about 5 hours there putting out merchandise that is in the stock room and making sure customers are actually buying it. I like doing this because we actually get to see the products we bought and display them them in a visually appealing way. I’ve always liked visual merchandising and displaying the product in a nice way so the customers will buy it. It’s also nice seeing people actually buying the products that you bought a year ago.
Being an assistant buyer is a big job, I manage a lot of vendors and work with many departments within the company. I do hope to be promoted to associate buyer soon so that I can start buying my own products. It’s a hard but rewarding job and my favorite thing so far was when I saw a little kid wearing an outfit that I had specifically bought. I was so proud that a little kid (or his mom) liked the outfit enough to buy it!!