Making Sense of the Application
For designers who are just starting out, it’s easy to get tripped up by the language presented on these forms. Company type refers to how your business is structured—it could be an LLC, a proprietorship, a partnership, or a corporation (learn more about the breakdowns here).
Another daunting phrase is terms of sale. You’re likely presented with three options: proforma, net 30, or COD. Proforma is your best friend in this early phase; it means you agree to pay for all goods before the vendor ships them out. Net 30 is mostly reserved for well-established design firms who have a good credit history with a vendor. Under those conditions, a designer has 30 days to pay their invoice. Often, designers going this route will be asked to provide references. If you’re just starting out, you can skip this section, or explain that you’re a new business looking to establish an account. COD, or cash on delivery, is not typical for new trade accounts either.
Similarly, it’s smart to ask a trade partner how they accept payment. Credit cards might be standard for e-commerce, but don’t be surprised if a showroom requests a check or a bank wire to complete a transaction.
A Note About Minimum Orders
It’s not uncommon for a trade company to have an opening minimum order. This refers to the amount of money you need to spend with a vendor to establish an account. Every brand is different, but minimums can range from $500 to $2,000. This should be stated up front, but it’s good practice to ask about minimums, because you might find a piece that fits within your project budget but falls below the minimum. That will be hard to explain if your client already has their heart set on it. It’s also worth asking if there’s a minimum to reorder with that same vendor.
After your application has been reviewed—expect a wait of 48 hours to five business days—you’ll be notified by a sales rep and issued a vendor ID number to use when purchasing. You may also receive designer login access to begin sourcing immediately, which is the best way to celebrate your new trade account status.