Each retailer has their own Vendor Guide which completely lists their trading partner rules. Essentially, if you, the vendor, want to sell your goods to the retailer, you must follow their guidelines for everything. A buyer is interested in your product? Welcome to their playground and their rules.
#1: Get your vendor # or supplier #. This assigned number from your retailer sets your relationship in motion. Once you have a vendor #, you’ve officially changed from a unique company to a unique number for that retailer.
#2: You’re a real vendor now! Request a Vendor Guide, also called a Vendor Partnership Guide. This published document is your numero uno resource to successfully adhering to the retailer’s required procedures and formats.
#3: Check regularly for Vendor Guide updates. Some retailers publish on a schedule and some may make changes weekly. It’s up to you keep up with their rules. It’s also your responsibility to keep your warehouse and any other services up to date with changes to each Vendor Guide.
#4: If you have a question, ask. For your retailer, there will be no excuse for non-compliance to the Vendor Guide. Make sure that you are crystal clear about retailer expectations by creating a receptive relationship with your internal retailer contacts and choosing service providers (EDI, warehouse, labels) that are as focused on 100% compliance as you are.
Stay safe on the playground
If you’re just starting out or have an exclusive retailer relationship, it’s easy to keep the playground rules top of mind because there’s only one set to follow. However, the addition of a new retailer or expansion into multiple retailer programs can make your head spin. As your business grows and the number of Vendor Guides expands with it, look for service providers that can help you adhere to the rules and align themselves as a partner in your success.