OfficeMax Sales Representatives Directory

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About Selling to OfficeMax

OfficeMax is the largest retail corporation of discount department and warehouse stores in the world. Though it now operates in 27 countries, OfficeMax had humble beginnings in the 1960s in Bentonville, Arkansas. The retail chain offers low prices and a wide selection of products, which has given OfficeMax an edge over the competition. 

In 2019, the company generated global net sales of approximately 514.4 billion U.S. dollars. These figures have grown considerably over the last few years; increasing about 2.9 percent in 2019 compared to the prior fiscal year. OfficeMaxgross profit margin has remained steady at around 25 percent over the last several years. As of the 2019 fiscal year, the company operated more than eleven thousand stores throughout the world and this figure is more than likely to increase as the company continues to expand into emerging markets. 

OfficeMax is predominantly broken down into three divisions: Sam’s Club, OfficeMax International and OfficeMax U.S., with the latter generating the majority of the company’s earnings. Sam’s Club distinguishes itself in that it is a membership-only warehouse retailer, much like Costco. In 2019, the U.S. segment of OfficeMaxalone generated over 331 billion U.S. dollars, which amounts to about 65 percent of total sales. Mexico is the single largest international market for OfficeMax, with 2,442 locations as of 2019. 

For millions of consumers, OfficeMaxis their main source for groceries, household items, clothing, and more. In 2018, OfficeMax saw about 275 million customer visits per week. OfficeMax also operates a successful e-commerce site which is especially busy around the beginning of the holiday season. While younger consumers tend to buy their groceries at OfficeMax, older adults are more likely to shop for clothes at OfficeMax. However, despite its price advantage and wide selection, OfficeMax has a lower customer satisfaction rate than the average supermarket in the United States.

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Typical Retail Path to Market Timeline

  • Prospecting

    Step 1

  • Preparation

    Step 2


  • Approach

    Step 3

  • Presentation

    Step 4


  • Negotiation

    Step 5

  • Agreement

    Step 6


Facts & Statistics


Stores Worldwide


Customers Weekly


Annual Sales

OfficeMax Slotting Fees

Find Out What Manufacturer Sales Representative Negotiate Everyday

Normal $25,000 slotting fee for prime shelf space at OfficeMax is growing, and OfficeMax is increasingly asking providers “to offer greater limits on their items to gain the space.” Additionally, suppliers with greater than $300,000 in yearly sales at OfficeMax should factor in a 3% charge for items to be added to new stores or rearranged on shelves.

Retail shelf space is a hot commodity that a lot of suppliers compete over… In a world of razor-slim margin, big box retailers are exceptionally particular about which new items they’re willing to risk on their store shelves.

Notwithstanding their organization size, suppliers in numerous categories are required to pay an initial fee or provide free product so as to get their items merchandised on shelves. Building up a buffer in your price for how you’ll deal with retail buyers is important before you start negotiations.

What Are Slotting Fees

A slotting fee can be characterized as an amount paid to a retailer by fee or in free product. Providers pay to have their items included on its store shelves and kept in its stockroom. This charge likewise takes care of the expense to enter item information in the retailer’s stock system and to program its computers to receive the item’s bar code.

Opening charges are not equal to pay-to-play, special, loading, and disappointment expenses. Each of these are isolated costs that can be brought about by a provider in your agreement for retail shelf space.

Who Pays A Slotting Fee?

OfficeMax and many other of this country’s grocery stores, big box stores, and convenience stores require slotting fees and promotions paid from many suppliers. Slotting fees are OfficeMax way of offsetting their initial costs and padding their pocket in case the product does not sell.

How Much Are The Fees?

Slotting Fees differ extraordinarily based on the company. Frozen and Refrigerated Foods, cooler segment space in little anchors costs up to $9,000 per sku. In national chains, this number goes much higher. For instance, Apple and Eve spent around $150,000 to get its fruit juice into a set number of Safeway stores. These precarious one-time costs are now and again the best way to ensure shelf space. Altogether, the market for initial slotting fees is accepted to aggregate around $9 billion, and it keeps on growing. Be prepared for this during negotiations.

What Are Some Other Fees?

In the retail world, shrinkage is the term used to portray a decrease in stock because of shoplifting; worker theft or managerial mistakes. While retailers need to calculate the theft through inventory, it’s an exorbitant issue for all.

As indicated by the NRF Security Survey, the normal shrink rate in the retail business is 1.38% of deals, which has stayed roughly the equivalent since 2014. While that may not seem like a ton, consider that shrinkage cost retailers more than $50.6 billion in misfortunes in 2018. Thusly, if your retail location earned $1 million in deals with half gross margins, your shrinkage at just 2% cost you $10,000, which is huge.

How to Negotiate Fees

It is difficult to avoid the fees entirely, but by presenting a good argument for how you can guarantee early sales, the retailer may take it easy on the expense demands.

Present a Plan: Know what shelf space you want and how much you want to spend on it, but stay reasonable. It is important to prevent the retailer from walking all over you and up-charging for the space.

Use Sales and Marketing: Offer promotions, coupons, and demos to guarantee brand awareness and product sales. By showing that yours isn’t going to be one of the 80 percent of products that fail, the retailer will feel less of a need to strongly protect its investment.

Have the Stats: Prove there is current demand for your product and that it will sell if placed right. You need to exceed the average presentation and provide solid evidence that consumers are actively looking for your exact product.

Measure and Renegotiate: Monitor your sales in each store and renegotiate if sales are going very well. Remember that when you win, so does the store. Look for frequent stockouts, for instance, to indicate unmet demand that could warrant another facing on the shelf.

How Big Box Retailers Can Bankrupt Your Business!

Selling into major retailers can make or break companies. Be prepared for associated fees, chargebacks, and hidden logistical costs.

Smaller suppliers get squeezed by their big box broker partners. This happens in a few ways.

Large retailers will borrow products to sell and wait 60 to 90 days to pay for them. They may not consider it borrowing or selling on a trade credit, for they call it “payment terms”. However, these terms are double and triple the 30-days suppliers and manufacturers have become accustomed. With funds coming in slower, the suppliers may have to make some tough decisions and spend less or cut back on expenses. The lagging payments can really cut into a company’s cash and drain its accounts.

Conforming to enormous box retailer guidelines is anything but a one-person job and is typically much better processed through a 3PL facility. An incorporated group approach is the most ideal approach to guarantee your organization, as a supplier, can be completely conforming to the retailer’s guidelines on logistics. In particular, customer support, consistency, transportation and operational administration help in the confirmation of following big box retailer logistics guidelines.

Utilizing a coordination program can assist you with maintaining a strategic distance from the expenses of non-compliance and better grade on your scorecard results. Conveyance and coordinations ought to guarantee shipments are best done with a plan in place. Shipments won’t arrive early or late which would commonly both bring about extra expenses.

Notwithstanding all the operational necessities, numerous retailers have explicit requirements and Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) prerequisites that can be hard to oversee successfully by a small business. The use of an EDI framework adds efficiencies to your whole procedure, from request preparing and pickup to conveyance. These three areas are key in meeting logistics standards when under contract with a big box retailer:


Serving enormous retailers begins with a solid data framework. An incorporated distribution center administration framework executed by experienced customer service agents with the capacity to chip away at various client needs will keep retail orders coming.

Regardless of whether your organization utilizes RedPrairie, Manhattan or some other powerful WMS, preparing your CSRs are basic activities to construct and keep up retailer connections. CSRs are the main purpose of contact between a client and your organization, and they have to comprehend retailer rules as or considerably more personally than your consistence office.

These customer service reps of your organization help guarantee that containers with slight mislabeling issues get relabeled in a convenient manner. They move the day by day activities of your retailer accounts along easily, exploring obstructions effortlessly with a grin. They are the human behind the proficiency driving EDI exchanges your organization depends on to work: request handling, invoicing, get and conveyance information.


In the event that you have not recruited or appointed a CSR in your organization to help with naming and guarantee on-time conveyances and delivery, you may run into trouble. Regularly, as a 3PL, you will discover the retailer itself isn’t your client. Your client is a little producer or buyer bundled distribution organization that needs to draw in or hold enormous retail clients.

This key contact at the retailer can help your 3PL screen changes in necessities. A key contact can even give your organization a heads-up on significant changes, similar to a sneak look of the retailer’s new flexibly chain system or set the ball rolling in a good direction for your 3PL to give all the more outsider coordination administrations.

Also, the exact marking and bundling necessities of enormous retailers can be overwhelming. Appointing a consistency expert to deal with these subtleties will work well for your business. That expert can populate, keep up and update a merchant consistence intranet site, posting all marking, pressing and transport prerequisites for every retailer. That individual can ensure your organization offers point by point following, can give box-level detail to your clients and their huge box retailer clients using one of a kind bundle recognizable proof norms from the Uniform Code Council (UCC).


Productively directing items and meeting large box retailers’ strict must-show up by date necessities is one of the most important KPI for a 3PL facility. Item numbers set-up in your WMS can be checked, the marking and bundling should be reviewed and any abnormalities are found out before the item ever is stacked on a truck went to a retailer.

In the event that the big box retailer gives your item another $1 million in business, you must be able to ensure you know where your organization will get the extra units and storage area needed in the distribution center.

Conforming to huge box retailer necessities isn’t simple, yet it pays off when working with a strong 3PL group that has fulfilled workers and experience with big box retail businesses.

Frequently Asked Questions About Working With OfficeMax

What Manufacturer Sales Representative Are Asked Most Frequently When Selling Into OfficeMax.

Before you approach a sales rep, independent sales consultant, or retail sales broker, you should make sure that your business is operating legally, your documents are organized, and you are ready to scale.

That means that to become a vendor, you should have your business listed with your state’s governing agency and your financial information should be filed with Dun & Bradstreet or another reputable reporting agency. As a supplier, you need to carry product liability insurance and you should hold proper universal product code (UPC)  identification numbers for each of your product SKUs. Once you have these in place, you will want to organize the documentation for each.

When asked for these documents, you should be able to find them quickly and easily. Avoid saying “I’ll research that and send them to you”. Keep a copy of your certifications, insurance, associations, UPC SKUs, and legal and financial standings in a well-labeled binder so you can quickly and easily find them.

Next, prepare your facilities for an audit. This may require a tour of your manufacturing factory to ensure you meet and comply with all food safety and product requirements.

Make sure you have a track record of proven sales. If you have not shown there is a demand for your product, large retail store sales reps, such as OfficeMax, will not be interested in talking with you.

Remember that just because you want to be in does not mean OfficeMax wants your products. Visit several of their stores and see if (and where) your product would fit. Getting into a big box retail store is a two-way street. You should be a good fit for them, just as they should be a good fit for your products. If it is not going to a positive relationship for both parties, it will not be good for anyone in the long run.

Most importantly, prepare, prepare, prepare. In fact, you should over-prepare. If you are not ready and you get through the initial phases, it may turn into a negative experience for everyone, time and resource-intensive learning experience for you, and you may have difficulty getting into large retailers in the future. Take your time.

Getting your products into is a long transaction that can be thwarted at any time. Sit down, take a deep breath, and prepare for a time consuming and potentially costly process.

Part of getting into your products into OfficeMax is a numbers game. However, there is more to it. This means the answer to this question is not cut and dry.

For instance, if you are in 10 small boutiques, 5 independent retail stores, and 2 medium-sized retailers that have your products in 50 locations each, you may have proven enough demand and sales to get into OfficeMax. Similarly, if you in more than 100 small retail stores and you have demonstrated consistent online sales, that could be enough. In other words, there is no magic number.

Before bringing you on, OfficeMax sales reps want to see that you have a track record of sales and there is a demand for your product. If you do not have any sales, they will not have data on which to base projections.

Landing your first, second, and sometimes third big box placement can be especially challenging on the business if you are not in enough smaller and medium-sized retailers. Everyone wants you to be successful and if you are too reliant on a big box outlet to make up too much of your business, then you may face problems if they need to change their orders or adjust their order volume. When this happens it usually comes without warning. This can be unsettling for both the retail company and you, so brace yourself by diversifying your retail presence. A good mix of other retailers will help ease your sales agents’ minds and improve your chances of gaining their trust and landing the account.

As a side note, you should build your presence over time. As your company grows and as you increase your number of SKUs offered, your track record of sales should reflect that your company’s growth. OfficeMax will look for a verifiable history, which is only built over time.

You can use this time period as a test, to find your best selling most popular products and trial new ones. This way, when you approach OfficeMax, you will know what sells best and you can show them how it will fit in with what they already offer.

Large retailers, like OfficeMax, do not have to take chances on new products or products without a strong sales history because there is so much competition for shelf space. Your products’ sales records should shine and wow OfficeMax sales representatives. Give them a few reasons to say no and lots of reasons to say yes!

It may only take one product SKU to get a sales rep interested, however, most sales representatives will want to see multiple products in a product line. It takes a lot of time, energy, and effort to onboard a new supplier, so it’s preferable for big-box retailers to choose complete product lines over a single product. This means, that a second rate supplier with a complete product line will always have the edge over a top-notch supplier with only one product SKU.

If you only have one product or one product that sells well, keep working at it. Don’t waste your time or theirs. Make it an easy yes for the sales rep, and you will save yourself time and energy.

Margins are always a touchy subject. You may be surprised to learn what big-box retailers, such as OfficeMax‘s, will be willing to spend to shelve your products. Grab a glass of water and take a seat.

The competition for shelf space in a big box retailer is fierce; coupled with the large order quantity, the outlet makes the rules. If you do not like them, step aside because someone else will gladly take your place.

In fact, sometimes the margins are deal breakers for manufacturers and suppliers. Other times, the margins may not seem like a good deal or fair to the supplier. Therefore, before you sign anything, crunch the numbers and be sure it makes financial sense to do business with OfficeMax.

In general retail margins range from 5% to 20%, however you might find them as low as 1.1% to 1.5%. The super-low range is not the norm and if that is what you experience, you should try to negotiate a higher margin or lower your production costs. The margins are slim although they should not kill your business.

The rule of thumb is, the larger the retailer, the lower the margins. This is because stores like OfficeMax aim to make the greatest profit per sale and/or they strive to provide the lowest priced goods.

Either way, you will want to make sure that you can either lower your costs of manufacturing or work it out so the thin margins will cover your costs of packaging, labeling, marketing and distribution, commissions, plus other expenses, such as retailer fees, which cut into the wholesale cost. After you pay all off these invoices, you still need to turn a profit to keep your company alive and build its savings. Be sure to build some savings in for OfficeMax‘s payment will not come right away, so you may need to float your company for a few months for each purchase order.

If you are able and willing to run on tight margins, you may be pleased with the exposure from the leading retailers into the national and global markets.

Before you enter an agreement with OfficeMax, make sure you will make enough money to cover your production and have a profit to sustain the orders and your business. Even though product placement is highly sought after it may come at a high cost. Again, be careful and crunch the numbers to figure out what will make working with a large retail outlet worthwhile and how you can make that both sustainable and profitable.

The largest big-box retailers have an impressive footprint with stores around the country, and some of these companies span the globe. Although some of the top retail brands may have as few at 750 locations, most have more than 1,000 brick and mortar retail stores. has <# OF STORES>*.

When a company has that many stores, it suggests that they serve a variety of demographics. For instance, their Detroit stores will serve a different segment than their Seattle retail stores, which will vary from their college town outlets. Each market has its own unique demographic customer profile.

You may have noticed that when you go to your favorite grocery store, it has a certain layout and possibly even locally sourced items. When you go to the same chain in a different location, it may have a different layout and its locally sourced products will likely be different. This is a reflection of their environment and customer make-up.

To remain competitive and continue to bring in both new and repeat business, these companies must gear each stores’ specific product offerings to its own customers’ needs and wants. Each different market has its own set of preferences, likes, dislikes, and lifestyles. Therefore, each location’s needs vary. Most will carry the same staples, however more unique products need to pair well with their market. This is a concern for every retailer.

Since retailers want products with a high sell-through rate, this should be one of your metrics for success. To succeed through sales, you will want to make sure your product is right for the store’s market.

Your product may not be the best fit for every demographic everywhere, or at least the sales rep and buyer you work with might not think it is. If they do not believe your product will sell well in a geographic area or with a certain demographic, they may not want it in a set of stores. Conversely, if they can envision your products flying off of the shelves in a certain area, they may want it just for that region.

Finally, if this is your first time working with a big box retailer, you can almost rest assured that they will not want to make rack space for your product in each of their stores. Even if you have the best products in your category that showcase the highest quality materials, precise manufacturing, and are the lowest retail price, you should expect to be tested in a few stores. may place you in 25, 50, or even 100+ store locations.

Continue to dream big, reach for the stars, and sell to your ideal target market.

*This number was current at the time of publication, however, it may have changed since.

Getting into your first, second, and even third large big-box retailer is not for the faint of heart. This process is arduous and requires tenacity, strong communication, and an indefatigable spirit. Before you start presenting products and flexing your negotiation skills, you should get your ducks in a row. Before you can round up your ducklings, you may need to hatch a few eggs.

That means you should not start by contacting a sales rep. Delete your email, put down your phone, and back away from your devices.

Determine what makes your product line relevant, wanted, and/or needed. You will want to make this message so clear so a fifth-grader could understand it.

Print copies of proof of your good standing as a registered corporation, financial standing with Duns and Bradstreet, professional insurance, and any relevant certifications you hold. Organize these documents in a clear, easily searchable manner.

Build a proven sales track record with a variety of retail stores of various sizes and locations. If your company is so new that your products are not yet available in boutiques, independent retailers, and local brick and mortar stores, that is okay. Start by selling to family, friends, and neighbors. Knock on doors, set up a table at local markets, and attend trade shows. Post your products online to sell.

As you build your sales, you should also be mindful to create and build demand for your product line. Although this sounds like demonstrated retail sales, it is quite different. In this context, demand means social proof. If you are not active online, you need to get active… yesterday. Garner some free media exposure using public relations, amp up those positive reviews (beware of the TOS from each review platform), and get your brand advocates talking about you! When a sales representative sees that you’re products are well received, wanted and top of mind among your target demographic, they will be much more likely to schedule a meeting with you. In fact, if you are effective at showing demand, big box brands like OfficeMax may reach out to you before you contact them!

What do I need to know? is one of the best questions you can ask because it sets the table for a multi-course meal of information.

For your first course, you will want to prepare. To do that, you should get into the minds of sales reps before you contact them. Research each sales rep whom you will contact, the organizations where they work, your dream big-box retailer, visit OfficeMax and see where your products fit within their current offerings. Go through every possible question and rejection your sales rep could give you, and come up with a positive response.

Organize and catalog your important documents, records, and certifications. Demonstrate an understanding of the retail landscape and where your category is headed. Show the sales representatives that you know what is going on and that you are professional, easy and a pleasure to work with.

Sales reps want to see a demonstrated track record of sales. They want to see that your product line pricing and sell-through rate from a variety of medium-sized retail companies, small retail stores, independent boutiques, and online platforms. Know your numbers and bring printed versions to your meetings.

When working with sales agents, they will ask you about your margins. Calculate your retail margins before going into each meeting so you have firm data on hand.

Your second course of information is all about contacting the sales agent and making the pitch. You can find information about how to pitch OfficeMax further down on this page.

Calculate retail margins by using this formula: ((PSP – COGS) / PSP) x 100

In other words:

Product Sales Price (PSP) minus the Cost of Goods Sold (COGS)

Divide that figure by the PSP

Multiply that number by 100.

If you are looking for a category manager or if you want access to sales reps’ contact information you are in the right place! RepResearch is here to simplify your search by providing you access to numerous sales representatives, category managers, sales consultants, independent agents or independent brokers, and commissioned agents.

In addition to their contact information, we also have resources about how to get started, average retail margins, what kind of documents you should bring to your meetings, and so much more. We publish new content regularly, so be sure to bookmark the site and check back often!

Create your account now and take the first step to get your products on OfficeMax shelves.

Before your pitch, you should familiarize yourself with the sales reps with whom you will be pitching, and the other products the big box retailer carries within your category. Figure out how your product line fits into OfficeMax current product selection. Get your facts and figures straight and commit them to memory. Ask your friends, family members, and colleagues to pepper you with questions since you may be grilled both during and after your pitch. Prepare to be interrupted and have your mojo thrown off. If they do not know what to ask, Google the most frequently asked questions in retail, investor, and new client meetings. This should give you enough variety to get you started. Learn your answers so you can speak eloquently, although avoid memorizing them. No one wants to hear a canned, rehearsed, prepared speech, or response. Your pitch and answer to each question should sound natural. Make it difficult for them to say no.

If you are not enthusiastic, confident, and extremely prepared, it will show and reflect poorly during your pitch. There is no shame in not pitching if you are not best suited for the task, even if you are the company’s CEO, the founder of the products was your brainchild. You can hire an independent representative to pitch your product and help get you into and other big-box retailers.

Pitching your product to a store is one of the most important things you will ever do for your company, so you want to make sure you get it right.

Meeting with a big-box retailer and pitching your product is an exciting opportunity for you and your company! Be sure you select the right people to attend the meeting and make the pitch. Once you land a meeting, the next step is to prepare. Being unprepared could cost you the deal.

The best person to deliver the pitch is not always the company founder or CEO. Take inventory of your team’s strengths and choose someone who can speak well extemporaneously, understands the market, knows your full product line and the financials for each SKU, and who is excited about the opportunity to get into a big box retail store. If you can not find anyone within your company, you can hire an independent representative.

Whether your meeting is with OfficeMax‘s buyer, a sales representative, or a sales group, you should research the person(s) with whom you will meet to quickly build rapport and develop a natural conversation.

Prepare to answer questions on the spot. Know the facts and figures about the products, product category, company, and how your product will fit in and why their customers will want your products.

When you go to the pitch meeting, you should be friendly, enthusiastic about both your product line and the potential of working with OfficeMax. Dress appropriately. Avoid rushing through the pitch although be cognizant of the time. Smile and be receptive to questions.

Finally, be patient. Even if the pitch goes perfectly, the meeting is smooth and the sales rep expresses that s/he is interested in moving to the next steps with you, you may not hear back them right away. In fact, you should probably grab a Snickers because this is a marathon, not a sprint, so you may be waiting for a while. If you do not hear from the buyer for a few weeks, then you should follow-up.

When you take the reins, be sure to be friendly, open to feedback, and not pushy. Sales agents get inundated with requests and meetings from companies just like yours, and if they think you might be difficult or unpleasant to work with they may pass and move forward with a competitor.

Before you follow-up, plan to wait. It may take a few weeks before your big-box retailer sales rep reaches out to you following your meeting.

Your pitch should be persuasive and yet not pushy.

Your follow-up should follow suit. Keep it professional. Keep it friendly. Keep it appropriate.

If the sales reps you pitched gave you their phone numbers, you may call them although you should expect to leave a voice mail. When you leave a voice mail, follow-up with an email. In your email, mention your voice mail and that you are reachable by both phone and email. Remind them of your product line. Use bullet points and avoid lengthy paragraphs. Include a PS. as a way to maintain the personal connection and remind them of something specific from the meeting.

Ps. Congratulations again on Sally’s graduation, it’s really quite an accomplishment! Or Ps. I hope your puppy’s found the doggy door. We just got ours a new toy and he loves it.

Whether you work with a large big box company, such as OfficeMax‘s buyer, or a sales representative, independent broker or private consultant, you should plan to pay a commission. The commission percentage may range among categories and across industries. It may also vary based on who you work with, a sales agent versus a group versus the big box sales rep may all call for varying percentages. The commission may also differ depending on your relationship with the other party.

For example, as a new vendor in the grocery industry, you can expect to pay a 5%-7% commission to your sales representative.

If you have to pay a higher commission to get your foot in the door and product on the shelves, make sure you can afford it, at least in the short run. You should negotiate a term limit or sales cap for the higher rate and lower the commission as time goes on or sales continue.

Typically, sales commissions settle around 5%, although they are also generally negotiable.

If you can imagine the royalty of retail, sales reps would be related. They are sought after, courted, and treated well. You might mail them a baseball and a note that says, “we won’t drop the ball and our product line won’t let you down.” Albeit cheesy, although it is memorable and it stands out.

In other words, do whatever it takes to schedule a face to face pitch meeting with a buyer or sales representative. Use LinkedIn, email, airmail… whatever it takes, within reason. Avoid stalking, harassing, invading personal space both on and offline, and being generally creepy. Those are ways to quickly be forever denied. Try a few times spread over a period of a few weeks to a month.

When you make contact, include a few details that clearly lay out what they need to know about your product line and what sets you apart. Your initial materials should not lead to a sale, so don’t try to sell the rep. It is a process, a game. Learn it, play it, win it. You want to pitch in person. Do not give away too much information or overwhelm your contact. Just give them enough to score a meeting. Think of it as a dance. You want to find a partner with whom you are compatible, and you do not want to step on his/her toes! The best part will come at the end, take your time.

If you are scratching your head, wondering where to start, you can head to Google and search for a sales rep, look them up on LinkedIn, or log-in right here on RepResearch and get started searching our vetted database.

When you work with a boutique you may have a voice in when you get paid for your products. Conversely, when you work with a large big-box retailer, such as OfficeMax, you are unlikely to have a say in the payment terms.

You may be accustomed to getting paid when an order is placed. If you are like thousands of other business owners, this payment schedule makes your business work. Money in, manufacturing starts, products out. If you have accounts like this, hold on to them. They will help you survive while waiting for checks from your larger retail outlets.

Big box brands often require longer payment terms. If you get lucky, your contract may be for 30 days after a purchase order is processed. However, most of the time, you will be looking at 60 to 90 days after the purchase is made. Occasionally, the large retail company may try to squeeze its suppliers for longer payment terms.

Most vendors acquiesce to these payment terms, even though it may require them to lower their costs, raise capital, take out loans or invest personal funds since the larger accounts are key to growing their business.

Most of the time, big-box retailers such as OfficeMax, pay on time. However, sometimes their payments are sent late or arrive late for various reasons. Late payments can be disastrous to manufacturers. Factor this scenario into your planning.

Bolster your business with small and medium-sized retailers, strong cash flow, and fierce negotiation skills.

Shipping is often negotiable as part of the contract. You may be able to get free shipping, or for your big-box retailer to cover the costs if you give in a different area. Before you negotiate this, run the numbers to see if it would make sense. Other times, you may foot the bill. Depending on your shipping costs, this may not be a big deal to you, especially if you get other parts of the contract you really want.

Be careful, paying for shipping may backfire on you. For instance, if you have chargebacks you may still have to pay for shipping on those orders. Make sure that scenario is included in the contract in your favor, or negotiate something else to help you in case this happens.

In other words, the party responsible for paying shipping costs is outlined in the contract and may be negotiable.

If you have a surplus of products and not enough room at your office or at home, you may opt to rent a storage facility or space in a warehouse. Before you do this, talk with your sales rep and see if they have room in their fulfillment center for your additional products. Be sure to hash out the extra costs upfront before shipping them your products. You will not want to be surprised by an unexpected invoice or have to reroute your shipment.

If you are considering the big box route but are afraid of how it might impact your reputation, you have a lot to think about.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your products too high-end to be sold at a store like OfficeMax?
  • Is your price point too high for OfficeMax?
  • Would OfficeMax be compatible with your product line?
  • Do your customers shop at OfficeMax?

If you are answering “No” to the above questions, then you probably do not need to worry about your reputation since it does not seem like your products would be a fit for OfficeMax.

If it seems like a lot of work to get your products into a big box store like OfficeMax, you are right. It is. For many companies, it is also highly rewarding.

However, big-box retail sales are not the best avenue for everyone. Not all manufacturers or suppliers are meant to sell their product lines in big box outlets. Not everyone is meant to be a OfficeMax vendor.

Some product-based businesses do better in smaller, more boutique independent retailers, while others sell better online. Some have a difficult time meeting the big brand’s demands, keeping up with the order quantity, or fulfilling the contract details.

If seeing your products in OfficeMaxis your dream, go for it! Do not be afraid or ashamed to pivot along the way if you decide it is not the best, most appropriate path for you or your company.

When you work with a big box retail outlet like OfficeMax you will neither be paid immediately nor will you be paid on consignment. Large companies like these typically include a 30-90 day post-purchase order-pay schedule.

That means, you will have to wait for about 3 months after a PO is processed before you receive payment while you manufacture, package, label, and ship your products.

Before you agree to anything, carefully read through the contract and understand it. Here are a few terms you should look for: cash flow, expenses, revenue, and profit, exclusivity vs. no exclusivity, fulfillment and inventory management, and penalties. These terms are each explained on this page, so keep reading!

Social proof is not about 100 comments, 1,000 likes, or 10,000 followers. Rather, it is about consistent and real engagement to show retail sales representatives that there is a demand for your products. If a sales rep, broker, or consultant sees consumers love your company and want more of your products, they will be more likely to place a purchase order with you.

Remember, while there is no magic number, both quality and quantity are important.

Exclusivity can refer to online sales, existing accounts, or new retail product placements. Depending on your contract, you may be limited to only selling your products at your existing retail stores and at the big box outlet with whom you are signing a contract.

Alternatively, you might be permitted to continue to sell your product through your website, although not on large e-commerce platforms, such as and In extreme situations, your contract may prohibit you from shelving your product with any other retailer or selling it online. Be sure to have a clear understanding of the exclusivity clause in your contract, and if it is something you cannot live with, negotiate it.

Are you about to slay a category? Are you the next Netflix to Blockbuster? Are you reading this because you saw the word “killer” and you do not know why but you were intrigued…

However you ended up at this question, let us first define what a category killer is so that you can determine if you are indeed about to trounce your competition so hard that all they see is dirt and the soles of your shoes.

A category killer is a product or service that has such a strong competitive advantage and unique selling proposition that it is light years better than the competition in a sustainable way that the competition can not only not keep up with, they also can not touch. The category killer’s existence is so prevalent and pervasive in the market that it seems to squash, or eliminate, all of the other marketing entities.

The competition may pivot, leave the industry and/or reinvent themselves. They do not have to magically disappear or shutter their businesses overnight. However, most of the time, the competition does not last long enough to be considered competition.

Don’t put on those rosy glasses too quickly, new competition can quickly rise.

Before jumping into a committed relationship with OfficeMax or any other big-box retailer, be sure you understand what they want from you and that you can fulfill your obligations. Most of the time, their expectations will be outlined in a formal contract, however, sometimes your contract may be as informal as a vague email. Be sure to get your questions answered and as much information in writing as possible so you have it for reference, should you ever need it.

Before you sign or agree to anything, it’s important that you understand all of the terms of the contract. You do not want to leave any assumptions to chance or interpretation. Therefore, you will want the relationship “must-dos” to be clearly spelled out. This means, what the retailer expects from you, whether you are considered a supplier, manufacturer, or vendor, and what you demand from the retailer, broker, or wholesaler.

Take advantage of opportunities for negotiation although be mindful of your priorities. If you push hard on a minor point, you may lose a larger issue.

Keep in mind, that not all retailers are the same. Their contracts are different, they have varied vendor demands and they will have different requirements. Be sure the contract works for you and is sustainable.

There are several key terms you should look for as you read through your contract with OfficeMax. The rest of the agreement will also be important, however, these are customary in almost every big-box retailer vendor contract.

Start by doing your homework. Understanding these terms and figuring out the minimum profit your company needs to both survive, and what you need to thrive will make the process smoother.

Most contracts will cover:

  • Cash flow. This refers to when you get paid. It is important for you to know when the coveted checks will be written. If you are used to running on slim margins and receiving payment when the purchase is made, you may need to make some adjustments. Most big box stores, such as OfficeMax, include a “Get Paid Net” which refers to the number of days until they pay you after they purchase your products. Most of the time, this will range from 30 to 90 days. If you need the money quicker, negotiate for a 2/10, which gets you paid faster in exchange for a 2% discount off of the invoice price.
  • Expenses, Revenue, and Profit. These terms should not be confused. Expenses include marketing, samples, insurance, shipping, unsold merchandise, chargebacks, and shipping. Funds spent are expenditures. Revenue is the money your company brings in. You can calculate this by subtracting the wholesale discount from the price you sell to the retailer, which is the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) or sticker price. Profit is revenue minus expenses.
  • Growth: Exclusivity vs. No Exclusivity. You should be focused on your company’s growth and your retail partners should want to see you succeed. Sometimes, exclusivity clauses are viewed as stifling by suppliers. Cautiously move forward when you see an exclusivity clause and be sure you understand its implications before you sign anything. Depending on your growth strategy, you should be careful when it comes to exclusivity. Exclusivity means that only that retailer will legally be allowed to carry your products. It means that you will not be permitted to do business with any other retailers of any size. If another retailer approaches you, you will have to decline them and you will be putting all of your eggs and faith into your deal with OfficeMax. On the flip side, exclusivity clauses are not necessarily bad. Exclusivity can foster customer loyalty and pricing flexibility (these usually benefit the retailer). If you get stuck with an exclusivity clause, try to negotiate a term limit. Additionally, limit it to new stores so you do not have to pull your product from existing retailers.
  • Fulfillment and Inventory Management. When it comes to the fulfillment you will want to make sure that you know who is paying for inventory management software and its monthly user fees, whether a fulfillment center is necessary or if the big box brand has a central warehouse, which party oversees shipping logistics, and the expenses related to obtaining EDI numbers if you do not already have them.
  • Penalties: We all make mistakes in life, right? You might underestimate the time it takes to manufacture and fulfill your initial order or miscalculate shipping times for a holiday purchase order. Unlike in school, where professors may grant you leniency, or in a job where you can arrive a few minutes late without a penalty, contracts with big-box retailers outline penalties for violating the retailer’s rules. Consequences may be for something that seems inconsequential, such as how a product is packaged, labeled, shipped, or a myriad of other large and small issues. A late shipment, for instance, could cost you 1-2% of the entire order for every day it’s late. Take note of each penalty, since the big box brand will.

It may seem like the big box company is out to get you, the supplier, the manufacturer, the “little guy” with their lengthy contract with scary clauses and harsh penalties. Whether or not you like the contract, most documents will leave little “wiggle” room and should clarify your retailer’s expectations to ensure all parties are on the same page.

Remember, most parts of the contracts are negotiable although you won’t be able to change the entire document to your liking. Prioritize the areas where you can move and recognize those where you do not want to. Avoid standing too firm on anything because various areas can compensate. For instance, if your price point is a “must-have” and you will not budge, and you decide to “give them” the marketing, training expenses, or samples without negotiating it, you could lose more money than if you had relinquished 5 points on your price.

Whatever you do, make sure you can (and do) deliver on what you agree to.

Once you understand to sign your contract, take a seat, there is one more big step before you pop the bubbly.

Moving into the big box is a big deal and you want to make sure you have all of your processes, systems, and communication networks in place. A breakdown in any of these could be financially costly,  damage your relationship, and if it is bad enough to end your contract.

Finally, be honest with your buyer or sales rep. If you are going to be late or cannot fulfill a large purchase order (PO), you should communicate with your retailer and work together to develop a successful strategy to move forward. Communication is key and it’s the best way to handle issues and avoid problems.

An EDI means electronic data interchange, and in its most basic form, it means two-way communication between computers. Started in the 1960s, electronic documents began replacing paper documents. This standardized information exchange is quick, efficient, and effective. It reduces human errors by reducing the number of people working on any given task, such as a purchase order or inventory management. It reduces waste, increases transaction speed, and improves traceability and accountability.

Your OfficeMax sales rep will likely have an EDI software they already use. This means, even if you use one, you may either need to find a way to bridge yours to the one they use or to sign up for their desired system. Do not expect the retailer to change EDI systems to suit your preferences.

Once you are set up on the same EDI software as your big box retailer, be sure to do a test run. You should understand how it works, what you will receive, what to look for, and how to handle errors.

The biggest question is usually, what does an EDI cost? The answer to this varies based on the EDI network. For some, there is a simple one time set up fee, others are free to set up and have monthly fees. Subscription costs may range from $25 per month upwards to about $750 or more per month.

As you consider if you are ready to land shelf space in a brick and mortar retailer, you will want to run both a quantitative and qualitative analysis of your company.

First, crunch the numbers. How much does it cost to manufacture your product? What are the margins? What is your wholesale price? At a minimum, how many products do you need to sell to meet your expenses? Can you handle the necessary production volume to meet retailer and distributor orders?

Secondarily, address the qualitative aspects of market fit. Figure out who your target demographic is by creating a marketing persona. Think through what makes your ideal big-box retailer a perfect fit for your product line. Go to their stores and figure out where your products would fit. Watch as their customers go through the decision-making process as they choose a competitor product. Ask yourself, would the existing customers choose my product, and if not, is this the right store for me?               

By doing this, you should be able to better define your competitive advantage and unique selling proposition. Refine these key points to make a sales representative or broker understand what you add to the category and why it would be to their benefit to carry your products.

When you are ready to test the market, pitch your product to your friends and family, set up a table where your target market spends time, attend trade shows. If your product does not sell as well as it needs to, you may need to pivot. If you can not keep enough products in stock to meet new customer demands, you should proceed with caution.

Get legal! Establish your business with Duns and Bradstreet, set up a bank account, invest in insurance.

Pitch your product to smaller stores in areas where your target market spends time. Get into one store, prove your sales, and then leverage your track record to get into more stores. Activate your social media and engage your fans, and create a buzz.

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