SCORE BIG BOX STORE ORDERS
If you want to land big box store orders, you need to land a meeting. Your product has been tested and you’ve proven there’s a demand, now you have to convince retailers to carry it. The process varies depending on the big box retailer. Following are examples of three different retailers and how to get started turning your dream product into a household name.
Home Depot provides detailed information online if you want to become a supplier. Whether you have a new product or non-merchandise supplies (shelving, computer software/hardware, etc.), you can begin the process online today. If you want big box store orders with Home Depot, check if you qualify as a small or diverse business within their Supplier Diversity program. It may provide a competitive advantage to get your first order.
If you’re aiming for Walmart, do your homework first. Their site outlines minimum requirements and offers recommendations that can strengthen your application. Minimum requirements include Universal Product Code (UPC) identification number, specific insurance coverage, Dun & Bradstreet listing and more. They also give you ideas on how to best position your product. Does your product fulfill a Walmart customer need? How is it better and cheaper than other products? These are some of the questions you’ll need to research.
Walmart’s supplier diversity program spent $11.6 billion with women and minority-owned businesses last year. In 2011, Walmart announced its commitment to source $20 billion alone from women-owned businesses. See if your business qualifies. You’ll still need to meet all the supplier minimum requirements, but it may improve consideration of your application.
Full instructions are included on Walmart’s website for filling out and submitting a supplier application packet. The process varies depending on whether you are applying to be a national or local supplier.
The Costco supplier process is less defined. On their site you will find a list of addresses for vendor inquiries. There are different addresses to contact depending on whether you supply food and sundry items or other types of products. Since Costco expects applicants to put together their own application package, you could use the Walmart application as a template of what big box retailers expect. Be creative so your application gets the attention it deserves.
Don’t forget, if you want big box store orders, retailers will expect you can ramp up production quickly to meet requirements. That means you should have your financing options already mapped out. Recently a client of ours was in the final stages of becoming a Walgreens supplier. The buyer specifically asked if they had financing in place to fulfill a big order. In anticipation of growth, they had contacted us about purchase order financing. All the paperwork was in place before they got the order, so they knew they could meet the new demand.
Getting big box orders from a large retailer is an ambitious goal. Improve your chances by doing important legwork in advance.
Dan Casey, founder and CEO of purchaseorderfinancing.com, believes every business has a story to tell. He’s been listening and helping small businesses grow exponentially since 2002 using a creative combination of finance tools. He’s been featured in publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Entrepreneur Online, Small Business Trends Online, The Washington Post, Crain’s Chicago Business & American Express Open Forum.
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