Vendors are retail entrepreneurs who sell goods and services to individuals or organizations. While some vendors are based in specific business premises, others sell goods door to door and at sporting events, trade fairs and other areas frequented by customers. They sell a variety of items, ranging from newspapers and prepaid airtime cards to food products and fruits.
To become a successful vendor, you must possess strong negotiation and customer service skills.
What Do Vendors Do?
Although the duties of vendors could vary depending on their mode of operation, their job commonly involves the following tasks:
- Maintaining contacts of regular customers
- Making deliveries to customers’ homes or offices
- Setting up mobile shops in events
- Advertising their products to attract more customers to buy their items
- Explaining the use of various products to customers
- Filling out the inventory and ordering more for more stock
- Collecting money from buyers and writing receipts
- Maintaining specialized equipment used in vending
- Ensuring the goods they sell or services they offer meet the required standards.
Vendors have irregular working hours. Those who work in stores that operate 24 hours a day work in shifts. On the other hand, vendors who sell goods from place to place begin their day as early as 5am and end it at 10pm.
When working outdoors, vendors are exposed to harsh weather. Hence, aspiring vendors should be prepared for a physically demanding job.
The following table shows the annual salaries for vendors in various industries:
Annual mean wage
Media (Newspapers and books)
Wholesaling and Retail
Direct selling establishments
Residential building construction
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
The requirements for becoming a vendor also vary with the mode of operation. If you wish to work in an established store as a vendor, you will need to have a high school diploma and some months of customer service experience behind you.
If you wish to set up your own mobile shop, you will need to obtain the following licenses or permits:
- Sales tax permit from your state government’s revenue agency
- Tax certificate from your local government revenue agency
- General business license from your city or county clerk’s office
- A vendor’s license from your city or county government.
It is important to note that some goods and services may necessitate more licenses. For example, you will need an additional mobile food vending license to sell food products. To obtain it, you may need to take a food protection course.
Important Skills and Abilities
To become a successful vendor you should have:
- Strong communication and negotiation skills
- Good math and analytical skills
- A reasonable level of physical fitness
- Good multitasking and organizational skills
- An awareness of occupational health and safety issues
- An awareness of vending business laws and regulations
- The ability comfortably interact with people from all races and walks of life
- Good customer service skills.
Successful vendors often progress to establish retail and wholesale businesses. It takes years of hard work and a good sense of business to get here.
Apart from gaining vast work experience, you will need to be a good saver and raise the capital required to start a larger business.
If you will be employed as a vendor in an already established business, you may be promoted into a supervisory or managerial position after gaining more experience and postsecondary qualification, such as an associate’s degree in customer service.
Although many vendors are self-employed, you can be hired by:
- Department stores
- Restaurant chains
- Retail businesses/groceries
- Newspaper publishers
- Utility services companies
- Small Business Administration – Provides license and permit information for your state
- FoodSafety.gov – Provides Federal and state contacts for licensing and food safety information.
- Boost my Product
Finally, vendors are the drivers of many urban economies. Although the BLS projects a 13 percent job growth for business occupations between 2012 and 2022, you can look forward to plenty of employment opportunities. With many retail and wholesale business rapidly expanding, more vendors will definitely be needed. What’s more, you can start your own business and be your own boss!