Scaling The Wal

Step By Step

To become a Wal-Mart vendor, start by calling corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, at (501) 273-4000. Operators will refer you to the appropriate department for the information you need. Or visit Wal-Mart's Web site ( for step-by-step instructions on preparing and submitting your application package.

In addition to following these steps, you must have your financial information listed with Dun & Bradstreet, apply for Universal Product Code (UPC) Identification Number(s), meet applicable liability and workers' compensation insurance requirements, pass quality assurance testing, and meet packaging and labeling requirements.

Wal-Mart says it responds to all product applications within 90 days. If your product passes the initial application phase, it will be recommended to a buyer. In most cases, you'll need to visit corporate headquarters to make a sales presentation.

Wal-Mart has two programs designed to help small businesses become vendors:

* The Support American Made Program is a joint project of Wal-Mart and Southwestern Missouri University. Entrepreneurs with an American-made product receive a product evaluation form to fill out when they submit their application. The university's business experts assess the product's potential and either recommend it to Wal-Mart buyers or offer suggestions for improvement. For more information, contact Wal-Mart headquarters.

* The Minority and Women-Owned Business Development Program offers a variety of services to businesses that are at least 51 percent owned, controlled and operated by women or members of minority groups. To participate, companies must be certified as minority- or women-owned by regional affiliates of the National Minority Suppliers Council or the Women's Business Enterprise National Council. For more information, contact Wal-Mart headquarters, call the Minority and Women-Owned Business Development Center directly at (501) 277-1770 or (800) 604-4555, or e-mail

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This article was originally published in the January 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Scaling The Wal.

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