On the Road (On the Weekends)
Marketing is one function of a buyer's job; analysis and store visitations are others. A background in retail comes in handy with store visits. Buyers must pay attention to how their company's merchandise is being displayed, what colors and sizes are available, and where and how other competitors' merchandise is displayed. Since most major brands offer locations throughout the U.S., it is not unusual for a buyer to spend substantial time on the road. Frequent travel, combined with rigorous hours, makes buying an exhausting profession. "Buyers have to go to stores on the weekends. They need a pulse about what's going on in the 'real world.' Buyers also visit stores on holidays, especially around Christmas." All that traveling inspires not only fatigue, but also high turnover. After several years, many a burnt-out buyer will move to another, less time-intensive job within the fashion industry.
All for One
Buyers frequently collaborate with other groups within merchandizing. As such, weekly meetings with the whole merchandizing department are the norm. The department may discuss upcoming sales, new strategies, or targeted goals. Explains one buyer, "For Memorial Day Weekend, we might discuss which merchandise will go on sale. We'll talk about the possibilities of a combined sale and how best to promote our goods in order achieve our overall sales target." Buyers are trying to make not only their individual sales targets, but also the sales targets of the entire company. This dual aim leads to intense pressure that motivates some buyers and drains others. "My company holds its buyers accountable for its plans and sales targets. I'm always aware that my actions can make or break the company as a whole," confesses one buyer. "The pressure doesn't abate month to month because if I don't make my sales target, then the CEO has to go back to the shareholders and explain why." He concludes, "You don't get to a buyer position unless you understand the rules and play the game well."
Many buyers also experience what are known as Open Buy Weekends; these generally take place once a month. Open Buy Weekends offer a forum for all major company representatives. Buyers approach Open Buy Weekends by preparing reports on sales and revenue. Shares a buyer: "I'll go to the meeting and say that I'm either on target, overbought, or underbought. If I'm over- or under-bought, I'll need to explain why. Often, the managers are already aware of the possibility of off-target sales. However, if the problem comes as a surprise, that's very bad. I may have to cancel an order from a vendor. I may even lose my job because, in essence, I'm playing with the company's money."