The Profits and Perils of Supplying to Wal-Mart

When Taunya Painter worked as a senior corporate counsel for Wal-Mart (WMT), she noticed that many of the small suppliers that wanted contracts with the world's biggest retailer, known for pressuring suppliers to cut prices, hadn't done all their homework. Few fully understood what they would be signing and few took advantage of Wal-Mart's supplier development team, a free resource designed to help less-experienced suppliers forge enduring relationships with managers and buyers. (Other large retailers, including Home Depot (HD), Best Buy (BBY), and Ace Hardware have in-house teams meant to serve similar purposes.) Painter, who worked for the mega-retailer from 2002 to 2007, says more of the entrepreneurs she dealt with might have managed to secure and renew contracts if they had familiarized themselves with these two pieces of the supplier-retailer puzzle.

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