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What is Materials Procurement?

By Erin J. Hill
Updated May 16, 2024
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Someone who is involved in materials procurement is responsible for the buying of new goods or the materials needed to make those goods. This can involve many types of things, including food items, software, curriculum, and clothing items. Any business organization that uses, creates or sells products will generally have a materials procurement department.

Often a materials procurement manager will be in charge of this division, although several different people may be needed. This person will meet with potential providers of goods and factor in any number of things when making a decision to buy. The goods a company purchases and then resells to consumers can make all the difference between success or failure in the marketplace.

When considering a new product, materials procurement personnel will weigh several things in their minds. First and foremost is the use of the item and the need this function meets for consumers. If there are already similar products being sold in the marketplace, they will also compare potential goods with them to get an idea of well these items sell.

Another important factor in material procurement proceedings is the negotiation of a price. Retailers in particular often haggle to get the lowest priced merchandise so they can then raise the prices and resell goods to consumers. The manager or buyer of the procurement department may be responsible for discussing price issues with sellers.

There are also companies whose main objective is to buy new goods and services for other businesses. This is a form of materials procurement as well. These people find out a business's needs, find products that meet them, and help negotiate prices between the seller and buyer. A fee is then charged to the hiring party.

Biological or organic materials can also be a part of this process. Metals, wood, and other natural items are used as building materials for a wide variety of products on the market. Materials procurement involves the finding, gathering, and delivering of these goods to manufacturers or builders who will use them to make saleable merchandise.

In some cases, materials procurement involves no negotiation in terms of price. For example, government agencies will state a need and various businesses will place bids to gain the account. The company who offers the lowest price while still meeting all quota and time restrictions gets the job. This process often involves the buying of large quantities of items, such as medical supplies.

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Discussion Comments
By SkittisH — On Jun 10, 2011

@aishia - It's not all just fun and games shopping when you work in this kind of job. Remember, depending on what business you work for, you could end up haggling for the price of truckloads of sawdust, or tons of two by fours rather than anything people usually think of when they imagine shopping.

Also, procurement policy dictates what you're allowed to buy, too. The company you work for will give you a certain amount of money to spend on a certain kind of object, and that and only that is what they fully expect you to go out and negotiate for and bring back to them.

Not to steal your thunder or anything. I mean, I'm sure there are procurement jobs that involve shopping for conventional stuff like clothing. Movie extras might need a bunch of costumes. Maybe a restaurant needs a procurement person to shop for not only their food ingredients monthly or weekly, but also for whole new sets of dishes and flatware.

It could be really fun, or really dull, depending entirely on what kind of business you end up working for. I say if you're interested in the idea and open to buying weird stuff, try it and see if you like it! The worst you can do is quit, right?

By aishia — On Jun 08, 2011

So, procurement management is about haggling for the items your company or business needs to buy in order to make their own items?

Like, say if I owned a tailoring business. I would have the procurement manager person buy all of the cloth and thread and patterns and stuff, at a cheaper price than I was going to sell the finished clothes, so that I made a profit?

That like being paid to do somebody else's shopping. That actually sounds like a pretty cool job.

I guess the title "manager" throws me off; when I hear it, I imagine somebody whose job is to order a bunch of other people to buy all of the stuff the business needs and then report back to the client that they did it. LOL -- taking credit for all of their department's work, that's what managers do, really!

By seHiro — On Jun 07, 2011

@Hawthorne - I'm pretty sure you'd have to take some kind of business college classes or at least some classes on economics to be able to do this job well.

I mean, it relies on you making a profit by buying low and selling high, right? That means you need to understand marketing tactics and skills. Business and marketing degrees are probably something people look for when they hire a procurement sourcing person.

A good way to get experience doing procurement work would be to volunteer for places that need such a person, such as non-profit health care places or pet shelters. That would give you the title of procurement manager to add to your resume, which will catch people's eyes when they are looking to hire somebody to do that job.

Also, let's face it, volunteering looks great on any resume -- not to mention you're helping those in need!

By ahain — On Jun 05, 2011

I work as the procurement manager for a rather large business, and I have to say that my job is a hundred times easier thanks to computers.

Procurement management software makes tasks that used to take me weeks take only days now, because there's a lot less shuffling of paperwork, and I can send out my files to other employees instantly using the software rather than waiting for them to check their email, or check their mailboxes. It's revolutionary!

This site is absolutely right -- as the procurement manager, I am the person that customers want to talk to directly when there's a problem with pricing. That means that I'm a manager, but I kind of double as customer service somewhat, too.

You have to be a good people person to do this job. You've got to be able to read people, haggle with people for the lowest price you can get on their goods, and keep everybody happy while still making a profit. That's a delicate balance, and if you don't like competition and haggling, it's not for you.

By Hawthorne — On Jun 03, 2011

I would imagine that material procurement services are extremely important for those in the movie making industry. Imagine what kinds of materials all of the set construction takes alone, not to mention the materials for making props, materials for making costumes, costumes themselves if the actors will be wearing ones that are just bought, fake blood if you're doing a gore flick, hair dye and such for the make up department...the list goes on and on.

I'm pretty good at haggling prices for things in thrift stores and when I buy in bulk from big companies who would rather get my big order than make me pay full price. I wonder if I could get a job in movie procurement services?

How does one break in to that kind of business, anyway? Does it take any schooling to do it as a career?

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