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A day in the life of a retail buyer: what’s new and how the role has changed

An afternoon within the lifetime of a retail purchaser: what’s new and the way the position has modified

A lot has changed since my early days as a retail buyer. Before I came to EDI Here I spent 12 years at Target, all in merchandising, the first nine in stores and the last three in e-commerce. It’s a high stakes, high stress job and it has actually gotten more so over time. These are a few of the changes I’ve seen in those 12 years:

  1. The multi-channel buying experience is changing the focus to online.

While this is obvious to buyers today, it is a distinct difference from a decade ago. When I was working as a stores beauty buyer, 98% of sales were happening in-store. Now digital channels are driving growth with increasing sales and by influencing the majority of in-store purchases. Today’s consumers look to e-commerce for virtually any product, looking for unique items that aren’t always available in the brick-and-mortar stores, and digital retailing has come a long way to offer a better shopping experience due to comprehensive content, free shipping and pick up in store options.

  1. It’s harder to keep track of competitors and suppliers

When I first started, we could easily identify our competitors. At Target, we kept our eye on Walmart and any of the other big box retailers and department stores. Then Amazon came along and after that, the number of online sellers just exploded. Now, anyone can set up an e-commerce site or specialty store selling a narrow niche of products. This makes keeping track of competitors more difficult. As any retail buyer today knows, competitive analyses are not as straight-forward as a decade ago.

  1. Collaborating with internal teams ramps up

I think back to when I was a buyer in sporting goods, I spent my time with three or four internal teams. When I moved to beauty products, I needed to partner with many more from sourcing to the online team to the online presentation team to quality management to marketing. And when I was in digital, it was even busier. Along with managing in-store items online I was dealing with suppliers and products we didn’t carry in the stores, which meant my portfolio of products was even bigger.

  1. The role of data and analytics are changing

There’s more data out there but it’s harder for everyone to get at, and harder still to efficiently derive insight from it. Data sources have multiplied and now include the basics such as store sales and inventory, alongside e-commerce sales, social engagement, mobile promotions, customer loyalty, weather patterns, regional events and much more. A retail buyer can be quickly overcome with data and most analytic tools haven’t kept up.

One of the reasons I came to EDI was to be able to help buyers do their jobs better. Having spent 12 years where they are, I know what buyers struggle with daily. EDI is able to help them do their jobs better, more easily, and collaboratively with their internal teams and suppliers.

If you’d like a demonstration of what EDI Here can do for you as a buyer, please visit our website to see how we can help you to find compelling new items and advanced sales analytics.

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