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How to Become a Nike Distributor

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Maybe you grew up wearing Nike shoes and apparel because your parents ran marathons. Perhaps you are a star athlete who credits Nike with your success. It could be simply that you love the sporting life and want to start a business that celebrates your passion. Whatever your reason for wanting to become a Nike distributor, it’s a strong one -- and you want to know how to do it, legally. Before you get there, take your time, do your homework, and think of it as a marathon, not a sprint.

Top Considerations

Nike mandates that all authorized retailers of its products have a government-issued business license and a retail storefront. That means you cannot sell Nike products from home or on auction websites such as eBay.com, nor can you sell the products on your own website unless authorized by Nike. Keep in mind that one of Nike’s top priorities, and that of any big-name brand, is maintaining the integrity of its pricing structure. After all, if Nike products were widely available at deep discounts, how would the company ever sell its products at full price through its retail chain and authorized retailers?

First Steps

Before you contact Nike about becoming a distributor, conduct research into the market in which you want to sell. Attend sports industry trade shows and exhibitions, and visit local retailers that are doing what you want to do. Talk with vendors to learn about minimum order requirements, terms and best practices among suppliers. Ask them how they got started and whether they would be willing to mentor you to success. Everyone has to start somewhere, and you might as well learn from the mistakes and triumphs of those who have gone before you.

Exploring Your Options

Putting all of your eggs in one proverbial basket doesn’t leave much of a margin for error as a new business owner. Rather than rely solely on Nike, consider distributing products from smaller manufacturers that might be more flexible with pricing, order minimums and distributor application approvals. By carrying unique merchandise not widely available elsewhere, you will stand out among a sea of sporting good chains. Demonstrating a history of success will bode well for you when you are ready to apply to be a Nike distributor and grow your business.

Contacting Nike

Nike offers an Electronic Retailer Application for U.S. retailers on its website; international retailers should work with their Nike regional office. Complete and submit the appropriate application, and Nike will respond to it in the order in which it is received. Send an email to m.newdoor.inq@nike.com if you have questions about the application process, and be prepared to wait up to 60 days for a response while marketplace and territory managers review your application. If your request is not granted, you will need to wait one year to apply again. If you are approved, Nike will share its pricing and minimum order requirements with you -- and your new business will be off and running.