Becoming an outstanding retail buyer doesn’t happen overnight—it requires time, patience, training and a desire to know more.
So what makes these guys succeed? Retail buyers deal with people -with vendors -and it’s important that they know what’s right to buy at what time. This means they need to understand market trends, be flexible, strike when an opportunity presents itself and get the best possible terms.
Training and teaching is the key that unlocks the doors to learning and success. A good training program kindles curiosity and instills a passion to improve, become better and continuously improve. By creating a conducive environment for growth, allowing them to gain global experience, empowering them with practical knowledge, organizations can help people who start of as mere planners, become great buyers.
Of course, it goes without saying that it’s a process that involves many steps. Training is necessarily the first step, beginning in the classroom, but this should gradually move out to the place where there’s action—the stores with their numerous departments. Training underscores the value of good communication and the importance of listening. A linear or closed-minded approach is not going to do a buyer or a manager any good. They should learn to listen and understand—good relationships depend on this.
Communication between departments should be encouraged, and with barriers broken, a new culture of sharing, caring and honesty is established—one in which everyone learns and grows. This permeates throughout the organization. Buyers are human beings and they are going to make some mistakes; what is important is that they learn from them—the training should provide for this.
After such initial training, where roots have been laid for bigger things, trainees need to get a feel of all the other departments, the retail brands and the different locations that the organizations has branches in. Such exposure means that they can be moved across domestic and international divisions to gain important experience. At the end of it all, the would-be buyers will understand the impact and importance of all buying decisions that they make.
Thus, teaching and one-on-one training is crucial not only for creating value and achieving goals but also for the long-term success of the company and creating shareholder value.
While expanding the buyer base is important, developing a large talent pool is no less so. Hiring and training add to the talent pool but holding on to the best is very important. Talented individuals should be made to feel that each one is important and organizations need to do whatever needs to be done to make them stay.
The ultimate aim of teaching, training and exposure is to empower the future retail buyer, instil confidence in them, help them take intelligent risks and be comfortable while taking big decisions.
Retail buyers are part of the heart and soul of the retail organization and as successful retail buyers make the transition from an individual contributor role to a bigger leadership role, they need to be prepared for bigger responsibilities. Training and teaching are hence an inevitable part of their success.