The health and growth of any company depends on several internal ingredients that include synchronicity, communication, market position, and product awareness. The ability to identify future trends, as well as forecast social, economic, and political changes are essential skills that impact profit margins. Purchasing managers are the front line specialists that record, track, and keep abreast of any changes that might affect the demand, as well as the supply and the need for products, materials, and information that make a difference in company projections and goals.
Purchasing Manager Job Responsibilities
Purchasing managers have different titles based on the business or industry. Retail companies call their purchasing managers, buyers while wholesale companies may call their purchasing managers, purchasing agents. Whatever title is assigned to the job of purchasing the responsibilities are similar, they study inventory levels, record sales, identify domestic as well as foreign suppliers, and stay focused on market conditions that can alter the supply or the demand for products and materials. Effective purchasing managers help companies meet planned projections.
Government agencies as well as some manufacturing firms use titles like contract specialists, purchasing directors, and purchasing agents to describe employees that buy parts, materials, supplies, machines, services, and other items that affect the production of a product or service within the organization. Some purchasing agents negotiate as well as supervise supply contracts. They are call supply or contract managers. Government contract managers may be responsible for developing a bid system that adheres to strict conditions as well as certain regulations that eliminate any hint of impropriety in official transactions.
Purchasing specialists in the retail and wholesale business are commonly called merchandise managers and buyers. They are an integral part of a complex system of merchandising and distribution that identifies and then satisfies the needs of end consumers. Wholesale buyer’s purchase goods directly from manufacturers or from other wholesale companies and they resell them to retail chains, commercial institutions, and other organizations. Wholesale as well as retail purchasing managers must be able to identify product that will appeal to consumers before the product reaches the stores. They must constantly track consumer trends, and the buying habits of a specific social group. They must be able to balance inventory levels with sales and be able restock stores in a manner that increases sales. Trends can change quickly so competitor and economic changes must be constantly monitored in order to meet quotas and profit goals.
Merchandise managers work with marketing departments to develop ads, and sales promotions and they stay in touch with store personnel through emails as well as store visits in order to adjust store inventory levels and make price adjustments that eliminate slow moving products.
One of the most critical responsibilities of a purchasing manager is evaluating suppliers. Production delays can ruin sales plans and destroy inventory control. Late deliveries as well as poor quality ruin profit margins. Purchasing managers are measured by supplier performance so they must attend trade shows and conferences; search the Internet for new concepts, and subscribe to industry publications that contain pertinent supplier and consumer information.
Purchasing Manager Training and Education Requirements
Most large companies expect applicants to have at least a bachelor’s degree in business in order to be considered for an entry level buying position. Retail and wholesale companies prefer to hire applicants with a college degree, but they do hire trainees, purchasing clerks, junior and assistant buyers, and expediters who are familiar with their product or service as well as their wholesale and retail buying practicing. Retail chains tend to promote from within so many operation employees can become part of a buying team by demonstrating their product knowledge as well as their ability to identify consumer needs. Most employees must have at least two to five years of retail experience before they are considered for a buying position.
Some manufacturing and wholesale companies have training programs for employees that focus on company purchasing as well as management responsibilities. Skills like understanding spreadsheet software, word processing, and the ability to analyze technical data are essential. Buyers must be able to communicate, negotiate, and manage in all sorts of business situations.
Purchasing Manager Salary and Wages
Purchasing manufacturing and wholesale managers earn an average of $73,000 a year plus benefits. Purchasing agents in large companies earn $120,000 a year, and entry level buyer positions usually pay around $30,000 depending on the company. Most retail buyers earn around $50,000 plus benefits, but large retail chains pay their buyers well over a $100,000 a year plus lucrative benefits, but they usually work a fifty to sixty hour work week.*
*According to the BLS, http://www.bls.gov/oco/
Purchasing Manager Certification
Most buying certification is done on the job in manufacturing or wholesale companies, but information about training, employment, education, and certification for a career as a purchasing manager is available through the American Purchasing Society.
Purchasing Manager Professional Association
There are several purchasing associations that offer buyers all sorts of valuable information. The Retail Buyer Association in New York, the Institute of Supply Management; www.ism.ws, and the National Institute of Government Purchasing Inc; www.nipg.org are excellent associations for purchasing agents, buyers, and managers.