Set Your Payment Terms

Artists planning to wholesale their collection should be familiar with terms of payment, and choose the right ones for their business.


Trade show sale


You may have used or heard of some of these terms:

Prepaid with Credit Card – This is increasingly the way that initial terms are written, making the balance on an opening wholesale order (and reorders) payable at the time the order is ready to ship. When writing the order, the artist can take the retailer’s credit card information, but should never charge the order until just before it is shipped out. It is considerate to give the customer a phone call to let them know their card will being charged.

Sometimes, wholesale customers may balk at sharing their credit card number at the time of placing the order. They may have experienced a past vendor who charged their card up front for an order which would be shipped much later – it does happen. In that event, call the retailer for their credit card number a day or two before shipment so that you can process the charge.

Net 30 – These terms are very common, and give the retailer thirty days after receipt of the goods to make payment. If a retailer asks for Net 30, it is appropriate for the artist to request a “credit sheet” from the retailer. Quite often, they will produce one at the time of the order, and you can contact the references to make a decision on establishing credit for the customer. It is not unwise to offer Net 30 on repeat orders rather than opening orders if you feel hesitant to grant terms at first.

Net 30 (or even Net 60) are standard terms with large retail chains (link), who never pay up front for wholesale orders. They may place large volume orders, ask for discounts and take longer to pay, which is a negative, but may be offset by the opportunity.

2/10 Net 30 – This abbreviation means that the terms of the sale are Net 30, but if the customer pays within ten days, they take a 2% discount on the invoice. In reality, this hardly ever happens, and unfortunately the customer takes the discount and pays Net 30 or even later anyway. We don’t suggest acquiescing to these terms.

Proforma – This form of payment involves sending an invoice ahead of time and being paid in advance for the merchandise. It is archaic at this point and rarely used.

Extended Dating – This term is often used in the gift industry, and refers to giving very extended terms for an order placed early in the year that will be shipped much later. It is common with seasonal items and printed goods such as calendars, so that sales volume can be determined before offshore production. In exchange for getting the early order, these very favorable terms are given. Artists and craftspeople would have little use for them, but should know the meaning in the event it is requested.

Advance Deposit – It is very unusual for wholesale customers to put a deposit on a regular wholesale order. However, if special merchandise or a commission is being placed, it may be appropriate to get a good faith deposit since the work to be produced is not in the artist’s regular collection.

Special terms – You may find it helpful to think creatively about payment terms when negotiating with a wholesale customer on a large order or to spur sales. For example, it may be easier for a customer to pay half the balance at 30 days and the other half at 30 days on a very large balance, and it may be favorable for the artist to make that offer.

At other times, “on approval” terms are given, which is no-risk to the buyer. This arrangement gives Net 30, but allows for return if sales are slow. The retailer would have the option of returning merchandise and only paying for that which is sold. On the other hand, it offers an attractive way to gain and opening order which will hopefully lead to a long business relationship.


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  1. Is there a list somewhere of large retailers and their typical terms for paying suppliers. Thanks,

    • Christine, I do not know of any directory that lists typical payment terms of specific large retailers, however they don’t vary much. Overall, they tend to take a Net 30 or Net 60, and they tend to be late in making payments. You also won’t get a deposit up front. You could check online to see if there are discussions of any particular large retailers with the reputation of never paying or extremely bad vendor relations, though.

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