Do Interior Designers Need Trade Accounts

Are you an interior designer that has heard about trade accounts but hasn’t quite decided if it’s something you want to set up? We can help you decide!

What is a Trade Account?

What is a Trade Account?
What is a Trade Account?

Furniture wholesalers often provide deep discounts to interior designers because they want you to go to them to purchase furniture. They know that selling to you means they will be able to get lots of repeat business if they provide a good service and product.

Although some discounts are about 10%-20%, depending on the wholesaler you visit, the discount can sometimes be up to 50% off. Some wholesalers even reward you with steeper discounts if you purchase from them many times, or if you hit a certain spending level within a year.

Over time, these savings add up to really large savings for your clients, or very good profit for you if you decide to split the savings with your clients.

Why is a Trade Account Important?

Having trade accounts is a great way to offer additional benefits to a client who wants to work with you. It is important for two main reasons:

  1. If you are giving your client a flat-rate fee estimate for a project and if you get discounts on furniture or other products, you can lower that project fee accordingly and that might put your estimate at a price point where there is a higher chance of you being the interior designer that the client ultimately decides to go with.
  2. If you are charging an hourly fee and your client wants a specific piece of furniture that you get a discount on, you can offer to purchase it for the client at your discounted rate and split the difference with them. This means you will end up making more money, and the client will end up spending less money. It’s a win-win situation!

How To Start a Trade Account

Most wholesalers have an application form so they can know about your business before approving you. You can call your local wholesalers and ask to speak to one of their sales representatives and let them know that you are an interior designer looking to open a trade account. Most applications nowadays are online so you can just fill it up on your computer and email it back to them.

If there is a specific company you like to buy from already, you can Google for their name + “trade program” to see if they have a trade program available. If not, I would still give them a call because sometimes they don’t advertise their programs but they might in fact have one.

The application will almost always ask for your tax ID and a resale license. If you simply Google for your city + resale license (eg. “Los Angeles resale license”), you should see a website where you can apply for one. This will help you when it comes to taxes (more on this later in the post).

When asked for the type of account you want to open, if you’re just starting out it’s best to pick “Proforma” or “COD” which means you will be paying for the items upfront. A “Net 30” is a type of credit account that lets you order items and pay for them up to 30 days later.

In terms of payment, most wholesalers will require you to pay for the item upfront, or on delivery. As you use the company more and more often and build trust, they may offer you the option to pay for the invoice later or ask if you want to open a credit account with them. This may come in handy if you need something for a client but your next payment from them is still a few weeks out.

What Are Some Good Wholesalers with Trade Accounts Available?

Anthropologie House & Home Trade Program

Offers 20% off all regular-priced and sale-priced items.

You can learn more and join here.

Ashley Furniture Trade Program

Offers up to 20% off your purchase.

You can learn more and join here.

Crate&Barrel Interior Design Trade Program

Offers 20% off all regular-priced items purchased from Crate & Barrel, Crate & Kids, and CB2.

You can learn more and join here.

Restoration Hardware RH Trade Program

Offers 25% savings on full-priced merchandise and 20% savings on merchandise that is on sale. The discount doesn’t apply to outlet locations.

You can learn more and join here.

Williams Sonoma B2B Trade Program

Offers up to 20% off on their brands, which includes Williams Sonoma, Williams Sonoma Home, West Elm, Mark & Graham, Rejuvenation, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Teens, and Pottery Barn Kids.

You can learn more and join here.

How do I report this on my tax report?

It’s best to talk to your bookkeeper about this for more specific information. Most trade programs will require you to provide your resale certificate and they usually won’t charge you sales tax since you will be reselling the item. It is your responsibility to collect sales tax from your client though. Just be mindful that the tax exemption is only for items you are buying for your clients (and they pay you for), not for items for your own business that you will be using.

Most states also require you to renew your resale certificate every so often so make sure that you keep track of when your certificate expires as well.

If you already have an interior design business or are planning to start an interior design business in the near future, feel free to contact us and we can help you in whatever way we can. If you need a company to help with your bookkeeping and/or taxes, we can do that as well.

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