Job Description (What the job involves)
A beauty buyer plays a crucial role in the success of any beauty retail operation as they are responsible for sourcing, buying and managing the inventory of skincare products and cosmetics that their company sells.
This is a far more complex role than simply buying lots of products you like the look of though. There is a surprising amount of painstaking research, analysis and negotiation that goes on behind the scenes. Below is a selection of some of the typical duties a beauty buyer would be expected to carry out.
- Market place analysis - Beauty Buyers need to keep their finger on the pulse of what their customers want in terms of health and beauty products and the prices they’re going to be prepared to pay for these. They achieve this by analysing high street trends, inviting customer feedback, devouring trade magazines, talking to front line shop floor beauty consultants and conducting competitor analysis.
- Predict future trends - It’s not enough to know what today’s best sellers are, beauty buyers are also keen on predicting the best sellers of tomorrow. Cosmetic lines have to evolve if the company is to remain competitive. A beauty buyer will therefore be proactive in seeking new groundbreaking products to display.
- Source a suppliers - Armed with the knowledge of what their target audience wants the beauty buyer has to source suitable suppliers for these fragrances, cosmetics or beauty products.
- Product selection and negotiation - The process of product selection is quite a complex one. Before making a decision the buyer will have to determine which products will appeal to their target audience, whether the pricing is within the allotted budget and compatible with predicted sales targets, what bulk buying discounts are in force and if delivery schedules are suitable. Negotiation on a suppliers terms will often have to come into play.
- Review sales performance and optimize inventory - Once the beauty products start to be sold the buyer will be responsible for analyzing sales stats from the stores to evaluate the sales performance of all the various product lines. Their job is to manage the inventory and maximise the profitability of the retail operation by optimising it. For example, if a skincare range is selling particularly well then the buyer will need to anticipate when it needs replenishing and at what quantity. And if a particular skincare range isn’t selling well then decisions have to be made as to whether the price is discounted or the product transferred to another location where sales figures are healthier for that particular product.
- Maintain relationships with suppliers - Beauty buyers will want to establish and foster good relationships with their suppliers to enable preferential rates and continuing good service.
- Report writing, presenting and forecasting - Buyers are expected to come up with strategies for growing their company’s market share and to present to their peers and superiors so they can buy into their vision. Evaluation of whether these strategies are working is a key part of the job and buyers will be forever analysing current sales figures and predicting future sales figures according to current performance, historical data and prevailing market conditions.
- Manage other departments - It’s not enough for the beauty buyer to make their selection of a cosmetic skincare ranges and beauty products. They have to liaise with different departments (i.e. marketing, store room, shop floor) to ensure the products are despatched, stocked, promoted and marketed in the correct manner.
Hours and Working Environment
Lots of people aspire to become buyers as it appears glamorous and ultimately fun - it’s just shopping....right? In reality it involves putting in long hours. Forget 9-5! And with the long hours comes high pressure; the responsibility of choosing which cosmetic lines to stock, being forced to think outside the box and come up with solutions when suppliers let you down and being accountable for the P&L performance of your category.
The work environment is fast paced and necessitates being able to think quickly on your feet. This is retail and and therefore at the mercy of external market conditions. Beauty Buyers have to be able therefore to tap into and have an intrinsic understanding of their target market and be prepared when market conditions change or unexpected events arise to think quickly on their feet, change tact and at times make difficult commercial decisions.
It certainly involves a lot of plate spinning and for some this will simply be too dynamic an occupation.
However, if you can cope with the workload and pressure it’s an enormously gratifying occupation. To know you’re responsible for buying in the beauty products that are flying off the shelves or to have accurately forecasted the new next best beauty accessory gives a WOW feeling like none other.
Skills and Personal Qualities
- Highly numerate. You have to be good with figures so you can work out sales margins, understand your category P&L, sensibly interpret KPI’s
- Analytical mind. Able to analyse statistics, identify patterns, and make sensible decisions and predictions based on that data
- Enthusiasm. A passion for the beauty industry and beauty products is a MUST!
- Sound commercial judgement. Buyers have to take calculated risks and therefore good commercial judgement and reasoning is ESSENTIAL!
- Intuition. A good buyer develops a strong understanding of what the customer wants and of what products are most likely to appeal. This develops over time.
- Strategic thinker.
- Well organized with the ability to multi-task.
- Ability to work well under pressure.
- Confident decision maker.
- Good presentation skills.
- Fast moving and adaptable.
- Good influencer.
- Excellent communicator. Buyers have to maintain good relationships with suppliers, their own staff and across departments
- Good problem solver. A buyer always has to face potential problems i.e. your planned delivery hits a problem, a store sells more than anticipated and you run out of stock
- Able to say ‘NO’. No matter how lovely the supplier if the product, price or terms don’t suit the needs of your business you have to be able to say ‘NO’
If you’re serious about having an illustrious career as a buyer then we’d strongly recommend you acquire yourself a university degree. Degree selection is also important here with business management or marketing being favourable choices.
Some companies run graduate training schemes and newly qualified graduates if they’re lucky can enter these and fast track their way up the retail hierarchy. You nearly always have to start at the bottom as its the gaining of retail experience and learning the ropes from experienced buyers that really qualifies you for this occupation. If you’re lucky you’ll get to start working in the buying dept as a buyers administration assistant, progressing to being an assistant to a buyer, then junior buyer and onwards and upwards.
If you don’t have a degree you can still make it as a buyer by working your way up the ranks but it could take you much longer. Opting for this route you may consider starting as a cosmetic counter manager and aim to become a cosmetics department manager, then progress to becoming a merchandising assistant then junior buying position.
Whatever route you decide upon be prepared for a long hard slog. You have to have bags of enthusiasm, an unfaltering love for the industry and be prepared to persevere with obtaining your career goal whatever the knock backs.
Opportunities and Progression
This is a fiercely competitive environment and hierarchical in nature. You have to be prepared to start at the bottom of the retail hierarchy and work your way up,
For those that persevere promotional prospects can be very good. Progression can take place into senior buying roles as well as into other areas such as store management, marketing or merchandising.
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Potential Salary and Benefits
Salaries can be difficult to accurately report upon as it depends on the location and nature of business. Therefore you should treat our given figures as a guideline only therefore.
Buyers assistants - £10,000 to £12,500
Junior buyers - £12,500 to £17,000
Buyers (3-4 years experience) - £16,000 to £26,000. Average of £25,000 for up to 6 or 7 year’s experience
Senior buyers - For the larger chains senior buyers often earn upwards of £35,000 to £40,000 with the possibility of earning in excess of £50,000 or more