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How to Become a Vendor for Staples

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Staples, one of the largest office supply businesses in the world, serves 26 countries and claimed a whopping $24 billion in sales in 2009. Staples uses a diversity vendor program that encourages the growth of minority and disadvantaged businesses. Included in the company's list of potential vendors are the following: certified 8(a) firms, women-owned businesses; veteran-owned companies; lesbian-, gay- and transgendered-owned businesses and small businesses.

Find out if the products your business manufactures are sourced by Staples. A list of sourced products is available on the Staples website (see Resources). Products include merchandise for resale and items used by Staples personnel.

Read through the Staples Supplier Guide and learn how to compete with other vendors to sell products to Staples. The guide includes information on how to bid, outlines best practices for bidding competitively and describes what happens after a bid is submitted (see Resources).

Get certified by a third-party certification agency. Staples recognizes the following certification agencies: the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the U.S. government's Central Contractor Registration. Proof of registration with any of these agencies identifies a company as a minority or disadvantaged business.

Register as a potential supplier at the Staples suppliers login page. Vendors will need a federal employer identification number when signing up for a free account. (see Resources) A Dun & Bradstreet number is helpful but not necessary to create the account. Registration is not an indication of vendor approval but simply a means of starting the vetting process.

Fill out the online application available after registration. Select all business units on the application that your products fall under. Management within each business unit will consider your application and respond by approving or declining the business. The application is submitted electronically after it is completed. Applications that are faxed or mailed will cause a delay in the registration process.

Wait 30 days to receive a response from Staples management. Although applications are distributed within 72 hours of receipt, a final response takes time to assess. Expect a separate response from each business unit. Approval from one business unit does not mean a company will receive approval from all units.

Respond with additional information if requested. Business units that are interested in a company may ask for additional information before making a final decision. Acceptance means the company's name will appear on a manager's or buyer's list of vendors approved to receive a request for bids. Acceptance is not an acknowledgment of a contract from Staples.

Check the status of an application by logging in to the Staples supplier website. This is the same account created when the business registers as a potential supplier (see Resources).


Alex Burke holds a degree in environmental design and a Master of Arts in information management. She's worked as a licensed interior designer, artist, database administrator and nightclub manager. A perpetual student, Burke writes Web content on a variety of topics, including art, interior design, database design, culture, health and business.

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