A wholesale buyer sources products which are stocked at a wholesalers. Wholesalers carry products which are sold to non-standard consumers, such as retailers, professionals, other wholesalers, and so forth. Wholesale buyers are closely related to retail buyers, who obtain products which are intended for retail sale. People who work in this field can make varying amounts of money, depending on where they work and whether or not they have specialized skills.
The goal of the buyer is to get products of the highest quality at the lowest possible cost, working out the best deal for the employer. A wholesale buyer may purchase a wide range of products for a wholesaler, or may focus on a specific area of interest, like farming equipment, clothing, or groceries. The buyer needs to be very familiar with the industry and with market trends so that good decisions can be made.
One problem wholesale buyers face is that they are setting up contracts and buying products months before they will trickle down to consumers. As a result, they need to have a good sense for how the market is going, and what will be popular in coming months and seasons. For example, a wholesale buyer who specializes in buying for a clothing distributor needs to know which colors and styles will be in as much as two seasons ahead. If the buyer doesn't predict right, a wholesaler can end up with useless unsold inventory.
In addition to handling buying to stock a wholesaler, a wholesale buyer may also work on the other end of things, developing customer relations and establishing a customer base. Customers may also need to work specifically with the buyer for specialty needs. For example, a grocery store that wants to start carrying a family of products may need to talk with the buyer at their distributor to make arrangements if the distributor does not normally carry that line of products.
The wholesale buyer negotiates contracts, keeps records, maintains inventory, and adapts to changing market needs and conditions. People usually enter this job through the process of apprenticeship, supporting a wholesale buyer and eventually becoming more independent. People who want to specialize in a particular type of product may also complete trainings in which they have an opportunity to learn more about that product and the customer base so that they can make good buying decisions for their employers. Many employers are willing to pay for some professional development if they have a career employee who wants to get more training.