People who hold purchasing manager jobs buy an array of products, goods and services for companies and organizations. Their purchasing strategy, designed to get the lowest possible purchase price, is formulated through in-depth analyses of sales records, inventory stock levels and careful attention to product supply and demand data. In addition, they have a technical knowledge of the products and services they buy. Purchasing managers generally buy wholesale and retail merchandise for resale, goods and services for companies and organizations, and farm products.
Wholesale and retail purchasing manager jobs involve buying goods such as apparel, home furnishings and other tangible products. These professionals, who are also called buyers, work directly with manufacturers and wholesalers to purchase goods for resale in retail and commercial venues. Given their significant responsibility for what products will be available at these establishments, buyers must be highly sensitive to clients' interests to ensure the merchandise they purchase will both attract consumers and generate profits. Their decisions about what to purchase are driven by internal and external sales data, economic conditions and consumer trends.
Purchasing managers within corporate and government settings accept bids and make offers for supply and service contracts such as for vendors of office equipment and janitorial services. Purchasing managers who buy farm products purchase goods such as agricultural equipment, crops, feed and grain. Some of these items, particularly crops, may be purchased for further processing and resale.
An essential requirement in a purchasing manager's job description is the ability to research potential suppliers to determine the most reliable, cost efficient and reputable vendors. Purchasing managers can use the Internet to conduct these kinds of evaluations and attend trade shows and conferences to familiarize themselves with supply companies and industry trends. They often interview suppliers and conduct site visits to their distribution facilities to assess the facilities' ability to deliver goods and services on time.
In addition to identifying the best suppliers, a purchasing manager job description will specify that a person must be able to develop fiscally responsible contractual terms that align with the company budget. Given the kinds of duties he must assume, a purchasing manager must possess effective communication, mathematical and negotiation skills, as well as the abilities to think critically and to solve problems. He should also be able to lead teams of assistant buyers and be proficient in using both industry-specific software and the Internet.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of professionals working in purchasing manager jobs is projected to increase by 7 percent by 2018. There are several reasons for this anticipated growth, including greater collaboration between large and small companies that will require more purchasing managers to oversee negotiations. Also, more people will be needed to identify suppliers as traditionally in-house work is increasingly outsourced to cut company costs. College graduates with degrees in business, economics and marketing are likely to be hired for purchasing manager jobs, while these kinds of jobs within large companies and government agencies may require advanced degrees in either business or public administration.