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What Is a Purchasing Agent and What Do They Do?

what is a purchasing agent

Without suppliers, a supply chain cannot exist. Therefore, purchasing agents are crucial. So what is a purchasing agent? Purchasing agents do everything it takes to guarantee there are sufficient raw materials, component bits, semi-finished items, and packaging to satisfy the needs of sellers, manufacturers, and customers. Some individuals believe that purchasing (also known as procurement) consists solely of locating the cheapest suppliers and ordering stuff. There is far more to it than that.

Purchasing agents must make intelligent, cost-effective purchases and handle the practical aspects of procurement, such as invoicing and pricing negotiations.

What Do They Do?

Now that you’ve asked “What is a purchasing agent?”, let’s look at what they do. These supply chain specialists make crucial purchasing decisions on everything required to generate consumer goods and keep businesses operational. Procurement is important in manufacturing, where raw materials costs, components, and packaging can potentially make or break a firm. However, buying agents also operate in hospitals, learning institutions, and government organizations that must routinely acquire consumables for operations.

Procurement is more complex than it may seem. In some instances, overnight or two-day delivery fees may be at least 50% more than the standard delivery charge. Purchasing agents do not just locate and deal with the suppliers that can provide the required parts the quickest. Shipping speed is merely one of the aspects that must be considered. Purchasing agents must take into account the price and quality of the materials, shipping costs and speeds, accessibility of storage space, and the effect a material shortage might have on productivity.

Under the supervision of purchasing managers, purchasing agents construct and maintain a dependable supplier network. Depending on the organization’s size, a purchasing agent may be responsible for all of the firm’s procurement needs or may specialize in acquiring a certain part, raw material, or kind of equipment. A purchasing agent at a small firm may examine the many suppliers, investigate the lowest available rates, handle purchase orders, and negotiate contracts for all goods. They may even develop the company’s purchase strategy.

A purchasing agent working with a large hospital network, on the other hand, might be responsible for negotiating with medical supply merchants but not facilities management providers. They have technical expertise in the things they source. The same can be said for purchasing agents who operate in industries where hazardous products are commonly used.

Now that you’ve answered the question “What is a purchasing agent?”, give us a call today to get connected.

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