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Anyone who is online shopping today has lived long enough to see the fall of the great American shopping mall. Retailers are closing more than twice the amount of brick-and-mortar stores than they’re opening. Though e-commerce is clearly a favorite among modern shoppers (just look at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s insane net worth), some major retailers can still boost the popularity of your brand if you manage to land a product on their shelves.
Target has managed to outlive the retail apocalypse, and they actually have an open call for potential suppliers. It’s not a matter of who can figure out Target’s merchandising contact either. The brand wants to give access to not just suppliers with privilege but to small business owners who have had to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. If you want to get your product stocked in Target stores, you need to make your Target vendor application impressive.
Target’s Merchandising Contact
You don’t need to reach Target’s merchandising contact to get your product stocked in stores. The company has an online portal with a vendor application. All you really need to do is go to their website and fill it out, but there are strict rules you must follow before the brand will place the first order.
Follow Target’s Rules and Responsible Sourcing
To be a Target supplier, you have to follow some of the brand’s major rules. This is all written in their terms of service, and the information can be found on the retailer's website. The brand also has certain social compliance standards, product safety and quality assurance standards and standards of engagement that all vendors must follow.
Target’s social compliance rules, for example, follow a strict set of labor and human rights policies. They want to make sure their products don’t come from sweatshops that exploit workers in third-world nations or use metals and minerals sourced from conflict-laden mines. All vendors have to go through a comprehensive responsible sourcing audit.
Use Target’s Specific Systems
Vendors have to be able to do a couple of things before they can work with Target. You must be able to use an electronic funds transfer with the company’s accounts payable team if you’re a domestic partner. You have to use electronics data interchange to receive purchase orders.
In other words, Target will not use a paper purchase order. It has to be processed electronically, and you must also consider joining Target’s drop-shipping program.
Fill out a Target Vendor Application
The last step in getting your products into Target is to fill out a Target vendor application. You want to make sure that your product has a competitive margin that will make both you and Target money. You also want to be able to prove that this is something customers want.
Include sales statistics in your pitch. If they allow you to attach additional documents, you’ll want to include a sales sheet that has product images, ordering information, customer testimonials and pricing information. If you can land an actual meeting with Target’s buyers, this is where you can show off your product in person.
Target Supplier Diversity
Target supplier diversity is a huge deal to the brand. They have a specific program to help stock goods created from diverse suppliers. They’ve partnered with organizations like the National Minority Supplier Development Council, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce to help meet their initiatives and provide diverse supplier relationships.
If you are a member of a minority group who is looking to get your product stocked in Target stores, you may want to reach out to one of their partners after you fill out a Target supplier application.
Mariel Loveland is a small business owner, content strategist and writer from New Jersey. Throughout her career, she's worked with numerous startups creating content to help small business owners bridge the gap between technology and sales. Her work has been featured in publications like Business Insider and Vice.