Having a job where you're paid to shop can sound fun, but it also involves a lot of responsibility as the economic health of the grocery store chain is partially dependent on your decisions. If you're a retail buyer for a grocery store chain, you will stay busy answering emails and making decisions about products from the moment you walk in to the time you leave at the end of the day. Becoming a retail buyer isn't easy, but if you like shopping, have a good head for management, and thrive when you're given responsibility, this could be a good career path for you.
There isn't one clear, defined path for becoming a buyer for a grocery store chain. However, you'll have a better chance of getting the job with a college education, especially if you want to work for a large retail chain instead of a smaller store. If you want to be promoted to manager someday, you'll definitely need a related college degree. A good starting point is to get a bachelor's degree in marketing or business administration.
Working Your Way Up
One way to become a buyer for a large grocery chain is to work your way up from the bottom with an entry-level job. The grocery buyer for Sprouts, Stuart Couturier, began his career as a meat cutter for a smaller grocery store. He was then hired as a store manager for a smaller grocery store chain and eventually transitioned to assistant store manager for Sprouts. After several years, he became an assistant buyer at the Sprouts corporate headquarters and eventually was promoted to buyer.
If you have a college degree, then you can start out applying directly for retail buyer jobs. You likely won't be able to start out as a buyer for a large retail chain, as those usually require applicants to already have experience as a retail buyer. Instead, after you graduate from college, apply for any merchandising or retail buying job you can find, whether it is with a smaller grocery store or with a different type of retail store, such as a department store. You can apply on the stores' websites or through your university's career placement office. You'll start out typically as a trainee, where you will learn buying techniques and merchandising practices. Then, you will be promoted to assistant buyer, then to buyer for a single department, and eventually to being the buyer for an entire store.
If you want to be a buyer for a grocery store chain, you should have good decision-making and analytical skills. You should be able to analyze a variety of options and determine which is the best. You should have good math skills so you can compare prices from suppliers and have good negotiating skills so you can get the best deals for your store. You should also be detailed-oriented and a planner who doesn't put things off until the last minute. You'll need quick thinking and confidence when dealing with vendors, and you shouldn't be afraid of conflict.