Wholesale buyers purchase goods and merchandise from manufacturers and others for resale to retail businesses and sometimes to other wholesalers. A bachelor's degree in business administration, marketing, supply chain management or a related area is often required if you want to become a wholesale buyer. Some employers might hire people with an associate’s degree and requisite experience or without any college background but with substantial prior experience in the purchasing arena. Being familiar with the particular industry in which you are seeking employment also can help you begin to become a wholesale buyer.
Joining a professional buyers' association as a college student can help you gain knowledge about the field through classes, events and written material. A professional organization might also offer job listings and career contacts. Organizations such as the American Purchasing Society, for example, offer associate memberships to full-time students in the United States. This organization and others like it also provide professional workers in the field with certifications that signify expertise as a purchasing and supply chain professional. Certification can require various combinations of education and experience, depending upon the organization offering it.
Excellent communication skills to work with vendors and teammates are important if you want to become a wholesale buyer. Having a natural intuition about people and being able to read and understand body language and voice inflection can be helpful when it comes to negotiating purchases, which is a big part of the wholesale buyer’s job. Having some degree of friendly assertiveness also is important to negotiating.
A propensity for math and numbers also will help you perform some of the tasks of buyers: determining inventories needed; reviewing invoices, purchase orders and other related paperwork; and determining resale pricing. Using spreadsheets, databases, purchasing programs and other software also is necessary for someone in this position, so strong computer proficiency is important. Familiarity with using the Internet to conduct searches and find information is helpful.
The job of a wholesale buyer might involve reviewing previous buying trends, forecasting purchase quantities to ensure adequate inventories and developing sales and profit plans, so good analytical and planning skills are helpful if you want to become a wholesale buyer. A buyer's job can be very fast-paced, so being able to work well under pressure, multitask and be flexible enough to handle changing priorities is also needed. Having an attention to detail in order to keep track of various goods and materials also is helpful.