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When I got hired for my first retail buyer job, it was for a museum store at a brand new historical attraction. I was the buyer and store manager and there was NO ONE else on staff with retail experience. I had no idea how to go about requesting terms from wholesale companies and the museum’s management didn’t want the buyer to have a credit card, as is standard for most companies. Luckily, I had some awesome wholesale reps who walked me through the process and I’m going to share what they taught me with you!
You have a few options for paying for merchandise from a wholesaler. You can pay with a credit card, you can ask for a total and prepay with a company check, you can SOMETIMES pay cash on delivery, or you can submit a purchase order and pay on account. Most companies (though not all) offer retailers terms known at Net 30. This means that you have 30 days from the date that the merchandise ships to pay the invoice.
Many wholesale companies have their own credit application that they want you to fill out, but most just request that you send your credit sheet. Also, when you attend gift shows to find new product lines, you’ll need a stack of credit sheets (preferably with your business card attached) to streamline the ordering process. So how do you create one? In many ways, creating a credit sheet is like creating a resume for your business.
At the top of the page, list your business name, address, and telephone number. I then break mine down into categories. I list my company’s mission statement so the wholesaler has an idea of what Retro Daddio is all about. I then list the administrative staff. Currently, mine just has my name, title, email address, and phone number. Depending on the size of your business, you’ll want to list your CEO, Director of Retail, Buyer, Accounts Payable officer, etc. and their contact phone number and/or email address.
Next, list the business’ Federal Tax ID and state sales tax ID number. Next up is your bank reference. Include the name, address, and telephone number of your bank, your banker’s name if you have a specific person that you work with, and your account number. Because I’ve had my identity stolen and my accounts hacked more than once, I prefer to not make it any easier than absolutely necessary for anyone to gain access to my information, so I only provide the last four digits of my account number on my credit sheet. Only once, have I been asked for the entire account number, and I gave it over the telephone to a well-established company that I trusted.
The last section that you absolutely need to include is Trade References. List at least three companies that you already have Net 30 terms with. Don’t have terms with anyone yet? No worries. Once you’ve ordered and paid with a credit card a few times, most companies will allow you to establish terms. They might give you a relatively low limit at first, but you’ll have credit. After you’ve ordered and paid your invoices on time for a few months, use these companies as your trade references. Include the company name, address, telephone number, fax number if they have one, and your account number.
I also list my social networking links–my online store/website address, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. You can also add LinkedIn, Twitter, or other accounts if you choose. It’s entirely up to you whether you want to include this section or not–I do because if the wholesaler chooses to check them out, they’ll see that we’ve had an online presence for several years and they can check out our photos to see similar product lines that their products will mesh with.
I definitely recommend that you keep the sheet to one page. As I said earlier, if you attend a gift show and meet with wholesale reps, you’ll want to have a stack of credit sheets with your business card attached and a copy of your tax ID certificate stapled to the back. These can get heavy when you’re toting around a stack of them AND catalogs, AND business cards that absolutely everyone is going to hand to you, AND line sheets, AND samples, AND whatever else reps hand you to entice you to order their products. Do yourself a favor and keep the weight to a minimum!