In the second of the series of fashion roles i’ll be covering we move onto the buying role, the opposite of the role i previously touched on, merchandising. The buyer role is a lot more on the go, where you’re regularly out the office to either go to market in the key fashion show weeks, or just general brand meetings. The fundamentals of the buying role is to use the information given by the merch team and combine it with their expertise to pick the best product from the brands’ offering and curate a range that puts you ahead of the opposition and up to date with the latest trends.
To go into a bit more detail about the levels of the buying hierarchy (below director) there’s often the buying manager who oversees a range of teams and plays a key part in project orientated work, whilst being present in the key brand meetings along with going to market at all opportunities. The level below is the senior buyer, who in a similar fashion to the buying manager goes to the key brand meetings but just on a smaller scale. the buyer is where the differences start to show, like the aforementioned roles they’ll go to market and play a role in the big brand meetings, however they’ll be the ones that often put the detail in behind the actual buys that are made at product level. The junior buyer once again has the same fundamental role but with brands just relevant for their own department. As you go further down the levels the assistant buyer often goes to the local appointments driving input and from time to time pull together the buy sheets for the buyer. The buying admin is in the name, with the role often being responsible for sending the seasonal orders, ensuring pricing is aligned and competitive and dealing with getting product live on site asap.
Market is obviously a key part of the buying role, it’s effectively as aforementioned the team go out to country in line with the seasonal fashion weeks where they know a large majority of the brands will be releasing their new rtw collections. They book appointments in advance and often have to juggle meetings, shows and writing up the orders in a very short period of time, making the trips a lot less glamorous than one would originally imagine. Pre buying appointments the merchandising team will often provide the buyers with an overview of the brand performance from a numbers perspective such as; general sales, buy at cost, retail and sell through along with loads of other information such as category and geographical mixes. Further to that it will also include the forecasted spends which we plan to make for that brand, obviously these can change dependent on how good the collection is, however they’re often pretty much the guidelines for how much the buyer should plan to spend there.
The brand meetings themselves completely vary dependent on the brands you’re meeting with, for example if you’re meeting with Balenciaga or Gucci they’re a lot more focused and can be driven by the brand. whereas the smaller brand meetings to which i’ve been to a few often start with said overview of performance, what worked and hasn’t worked and then just ways of working. It the proceeds onto the going through the brands showroom, product type by product type and the buyers picking out what they want, supported by the brand where they highlight their own best sellers to help curate the collection. Once the product has been selected etc it’s a process of putting the buy-sheets together and working with the merchandiser team to quantify them to then send the po’s to the brands.
A further aspect of the buying role which links into brand meetings and buying product is the side where they forecast trends, working with marketing to see where the movement is going to go and then researching to bring new brands that we don’t currently offer, whether they’re low-key and unknown or just not part of the sites collection yet but could add something different to draw new customers on.
That’s the main bulk of the buyer’s role, but on top of that at the lower levels it’s always a case of ensuring the company remains competitive through comp shops and comparing our offering to that of our competitors, that all product set up is in a good place for it to be uploaded and then working closely with marketing to make sure we push the right product at the right time.