What Is a Purchasing Agent?

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It’s funny how you make a decision to change careers. One day you are working as a purchasing agent job for a local trucking company, and the next thing you know you are creating a door to door flyer distribution strategy for an international company. It was a flurry of details and unlikely coincidences, but your purchasing agent job found you on the phone with a supplier in the Virgin Islands. A few phone calls later and you were on the phone with a not for profit company in Haiti that was actually hand producing the unique bracelets your company was looking for. After your customers received these bracelets in the gift bag your company distributed, you have had calls to not only purchase more bracelets, but to also help the not for profit group with some of their other goals.
And, just like that you are now working for a non profit group. Currently, you are helping a group of local volunteers plan door to door flyer distribution for these new handmade gift items that are being made in Haiti, but distributed through a company in the Virgin Islands.
Stranger things have happened, but it is interesting how your former purchasing agent responsibilities for a for profit company so closely mirror the tasks needed for the not for profit corporation that is now your employer. Turns out, no matter who you are working for, the skills involved in buying products to use or resell are transferable. The ability to evaluate suppliers and negotiate contracts is a much needed skill in nearly every industry. Whether you are working for a Fortune 500 company or a small non profit, having the ability to measure product quality from a distance is essential.
Negotiating air and cargo fees is as important, if not more so, when you are working with donor funds, than with a multi million dollar sea freight shipping budget. The search for the best prices in shipping and the best products for packaging take on a new sense of urgency when you are trying to help a group of Haitian women make enough money to purchase more books and hire more faculty for their local school house.
So, if door to door flyer distribution is what it takes to encourage even more interest in your product so that you can in the end negotiate a better price for the increased product numbers, then door to door it will be. You have also decided that given the nature of your clientele, you should also be looking for shipping options that leave a smaller carbon footprint. As a result you have switched to eco-friendly transportation and are using recycled boxes and bags to ship the goods. An added benefit is that selecting paper products to package your goods reduces the plastic packaging amount, thus making even the cargo more eco-friendly. The next step is to decide if direct cargo transportation services, with decreased time and stops will allow your cargo to be transfered in an even more environmentally friendly way.
Just like in the previous job, your purchasing agent tasks never end. A constant search for better and more cost effective delivery of the best products available.

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