In most cases, individuals who want to buy shares of stock do so through a brokerage firm, which are available either online or through more traditional means such as face-to-face interaction, according to the Wall Street Journal. Although brokerage firms make buying and selling stock much simpler, it is not an absolute necessity to take this route to purchase stock, as reported by NBC. Some companies may sell shares of stock directly to consumers, though going through brokerage firms is generally considered to be the easiest and most efficient means of purchasing stock.
Banks and other financial institutions sometimes offer brokerage accounts that allow users to deposit a certain amount of money for use in purchasing stocks. Opening this account is often the first step in purchasing stocks, as described by the Wall Street Journal. Buyers then select the stocks they want to buy and decide between a market order, in which the buyer pays the price of the stock at the time of the order, or a limit order, in which the buyer specifies a specific price and the broker purchases the stock only when the stock's price matches the specified price. Individuals who buy and sell stocks through online brokers are also usually required to open an account in order to buy stock.