Retail Buyer

Note: Completion of a TAFE SA course does not guarantee an employment outcome. Formal requirements other than educational qualifications (eg licensing, professional registration), may apply to some occupations.

Job Prospects Openings 5 years to November 2019: 5,001 to 10,000
Salary Range Median weekly earnings: $1051 to $1300 to Source: Australian Government Department of Employment 2015
Brief Keeping up to speed with current shopping and fashion trends is an important part of a retail buyer's job.

There are approximately 300 retail buyers in South Australia. Employment is largely full-time and most work in the Retail Trade industry. Over half of persons in this occupation are males and most are employed in the Adelaide metropolitan area. The median age of persons employed in this occupation is 42 years old.

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TAFE SA courses that may be relevant for: Retail Buyer

Accredited (Award)


Retail buyers purchase products and merchandise from wholesalers for sale in shops, warehouses and department stores. Buyers are responsible for tasks such as reviewing stock levels, comparing and selecting goods, and observing what their competitors are purchasing. It is vital that buyers keep abreast of any new products in the marketplace. They also decide on product pricing, which is influenced by the wholesale prices buyers negotiate with the suppliers of products, and the level of consumer demand. Another of a retail buyer's key tasks is deciding how products should be displayed and advertised to their best advantage. They must also encourage sales, so retail buyers must relay any important information about products to other retail staff, especially sales staff. Excellent negotiation skills and the ability to identify how to market and promote products effectively are necessary prerequisites for success in this challenging job.

Figures and ComputationalInfluencing and Personal Contact

Education Requirements

In some instances entry into this occupation requires relevant work experience is required in addition to the formal qualification. Of those people currently employed 8% have Bachelor degrees; 9% have Advanced Diplomas or Diplomas; and 16% have Certificate III or IV. Around 62% have no post-school qualifications. It is recommended that you gain the available qualifications to get the best possible chance of employment.

TAFE SA offers courses relevant to this occupation including the Diploma of Retail Management. Pathways include the Certificate I & II in Retail Services, Certificate III in Retail Operations or Retail Supervision and Certificate IV in Retail Management.

Still unsure? Then try a short course also offered through TAFE SA such as Introduction to Retail or Retail Christmas Casual Course. Check the website for a full list of short courses.

SA Apprenticeships are available in this occupation for further information go to the Traineeship & Apprenticeship Services Website at or phone the Freecall number 1800 673 097.

Career Path

Employment opportunities for retail buyers in South Australia, especially in large department stores, are declining. Most buying is centralised in Melbourne and Sydney. This trend is likely to continue. These positions have had a history of being filled from the existing 'executive pool' of established buyers.

Nature of the Job

Retail is not the easy industry many people think it is. It should be approached as a profession, not just a job. The industry can be demanding; however, people with the right attitude, personality, professional outlook and those who are committed to retail, enjoy the work. The rewards include a high level of job satisfaction and, in some cases, sharing company profits as a priority shareholder. You will have to go to seminars and trade shows throughout the year, which will include interstate and even overseas travel.

Typical Physical Working Environment

Retail buying requires strengths in working with and relating to people. Ideally, buyers should have strong customer service skills, and the ability to anticipate retail trends and consumer wants and needs before starting this job. Some people are more naturally adept at this role; however, others may gain these skills on the job. A preparedness to do this and a commitment to ongoing learning are also both highly advantageous to job satisfaction.

Typical Occupational Example

Travelling is an excellent way for retail buyers to check out what new products are available and, when overseas, to catch what's in vogue, for the following season in Australia. Overseas travel is an aspect of the job particularly relevant to people who choose to specialise in a particular area of retail buying. If becoming a fashion retail buyer is your thing, then work trips to London, Paris, Milan and New York would not be out of the question, particularly for those buyers who work in the bigger chains. Similarly, if you'd like to focus on the information technology or electrical retail industries, then you may have to fly to Japan. There are many other areas that retail buyers can choose to specialise in including millinery, shoes, leather goods or jewellery.

Some employers prefer formal training, while others recognise skills gained on the job. Whether you have formal qualifications or not, beginning on the shop floor and learning about the products and the market is a great starting point. This way you can work your way up to the top. Experience is essentially what makes a good retail buyer as it enables you to develop a greater understanding of the philosophies of retailing and customer service. Unique strategies can be applied to suit your business to achieve higher and faster returns and results. A large amount of a retail buyer's time is spent in an office; however, they may also spend time in warehouses or retail outlets previewing merchandise, and comparing quality and price. Although their working hours are generally 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., exceptions have to be made for travel and during any other communications with interstate or overseas clients. Time differences need to be taken into account in this industry.

Further Information

For further information about all TAFE SA Courses, phone 1800 882 661 or enquire online