Trainee buyer peddles her way to job success
Fion Shing Sau-man, a trainee buyer at a large Hong Kong-based retailer, discovered her interest in retail marketing when, as part of a final year university project, she provided business solutions for Wellcome and Watsons.
She tells Wong Yat-hei that she found the fast-paced and constantly changing nature of the retail sector a perfect fit for her personality and decided to apply for a buyer job as soon as she graduated.
What is your academic background?
I graduated from City University of Hong Kong, majoring in marketing.
How do you start your day?
We have various ad-hoc projects to handle every day. I usually start by checking my e-mails, as there may be inquiries from front-line staff and other departments that need to be handled.
When there is an ad-hoc task, my superior will meet with our team and we will try to come up with solutions. Every day is unpredictable.
What does your job entail?
My main duty is to understand the latest retail trends, nominate products for the product-development team and come up with marketing plans to bring those products to the market. This is a complicated process as I need to research customer preferences, set competitive prices and think of strategies to present the products in shops.
Sometimes I visit shops to try to learn about customer behaviour and preferences. I also look at what my competitors are doing and try to come up with the best marketing plans.
What are the major challenges you’ve encountered so far?
Given ever-changing retail trends, how to choose the right products and market them the right way to our target customers is a never-ending learning process. I try to keep up to date with customers’ shopping behaviour and product-selection methods by doing research and store visits.
What are your future plans?
I am only a year into my job and I have much to learn in this company. I work in the personal-care category and there are many sub-categories for me to learn. My short-term goal is to become specialised in as many product categories as possible.
In the long run I hope to enhance myself further by doing a master’s degree. I want to gain a few years of working experience to find out more about myself before continuing my education.
What advice can you give those interested in the industry?
The retail sector is dynamic and constantly changing. You need to be really passionate about it and be motivated to keep learning new things. If you are passionate about something, you will be willing to go the extra mile. This is the key to success for all jobs.
Teamwork is highly valued in the retail industry. I have to work with various departments to implement my marketing plans. A good team can make you more comfortable at work, especially when working under tight deadlines.