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The Importance of Being a Good Buyer

9th October 2017 | Jonathan O'Brien

Award-winning author Jonathan O'Brien discusses the importance of learning to buy well and how it can benefit your personal and professional lives

The Buyer's Toolkit (9780749479817)

Buying. It’s something that we all do on a daily basis – from a morning coffee to a lunch-time sandwich to cinema tickets or a meal out. Sometimes, it feels like we do it automatically, almost without thinking. Other times, we put in a lot of thought and spend time doing research and reading countless reviews, especially if it’s a big ticket item.

While we all buy on a regular basis, it doesn’t necessarily translate that we’re good at it. Taking that into consideration, have you ever stopped to think about the difference learning how to buy well could make to your personal and professional lives? 

There are many benefits to being a good buyer. It can help companies of all shapes and sizes increase profit, reduce risk and perhaps even gain a competitive advantage. For third-sector organizations, it can help them do more with the funds available.

It can also save money, which is surely something everyone wants.

However, buying isn’t just about getting the best price – there’s actually much more to it than that. You might find this hard to believe but sometimes the price can actually be the least important consideration. It’s about making sure we get everything we need, and perhaps some or all of the things we want, all on the best terms possible.

Sometimes good buying can be about finding new and unique things suppliers can offer that can enrich our lives. Other times, it’s about helping the organizations or companies for whom we work improve what they offer. 

Yet it seems the benefits of learning and then implementing good buying practices often get overlooked. Buying skills don’t get taught in mainstream education, yet this is something that everyone needs to do, no matter their age and whether it be in their work or personal lives.

Unless someone specifically studies the profession of procurement or purchasing, the skills and techniques involved could remain a best-kept secret.

Suppliers are fully aware of this and love it as it gives them an easy advantage over us as buyers, often without us being aware of it. It is no accident that companies invest heavily in brand building, powerful marketing and ensuring their sales teams have all the training to win our business. 

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Buying is much more than a commercial transaction. It’s a practice that offers a wealth of possibilities and advantages simply by us having some basic knowledge of the process and using some simple tools and techniques that will put us in the driving seat. At the end of the day, isn’t that something we all want?

Adapted from The Buyer's Toolkit by Jonathan O’Brien

About the author: Jonathan O'Brien is the CEO of the international purchasing consultancy and training provider, Positive Purchasing Ltd. With over 27 years' experience working in purchasing, he has worked all over the world to help global organizations increase their purchasing capability through training, education and working directly with practitioners and executive teams to drive in the adoption of category management and other strategic purchasing methodologies. He is also author of Category Management in Purchasing, Supplier Relationship Management and Negotiation for Procurement Professionals, all published by Kogan Page.

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Logistics, Operations & Supply Chain Management

Kogan Page publishes groundbreaking books on logistics and transport, operations, supply chain management, and procurement. Our authors are leading thinkers in the field, sharing their insights from academia and industry. Follow us on Twitter @KPLogistics.

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The Buyer's Toolkit