What is Wholesale? - Learn All About Wholesale (2023)

What Is the Definition of Wholesale?

Wholesale refers to two possible business models. A business may buy goods in large quantities directly from manufacturers, warehouse them, and resell them. Or wholesale may refer to businesses that produce their own products and sell them directly to retailers, who then sell products to the end user. This second option has been popularized by wholesale marketplaces such as Handshake.

How Are Wholesale Goods Distributed?

Those in wholesale purchase goods from a distributor and pass them to a retailer to be sold to the end-user. Wholesale goods suppliers source trending products to make sure that they can supply the most up-to-date goods to retailers. When a trend is identified, those in wholesale will research and source the most cost-efficient products, choosing from a multitude of manufacturers and distributors. Wholesale operators then supply these products to retail businesses for purchase.

Benefits of Wholesale

  • Save Money

By buying products in bulk you can save money through discounts that wholesale get with larger orders. This means that you can get products for less while selling them for more. Depending on how much you invest initially you can get ahead of competitors through buying and selling in sheer volume.

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  • Build a Network of Suppliers

What is Wholesale? - Learn All About Wholesale (1)

Those in wholesale need a good network of suppliers and manufacturers that they can rely on. Deliveries must be on time, products must be to a high standard, and relationships honored, to make sure that business runs smoothly for a wholesaler. This means that supplier relationships should be positive and well maintained so that your brand is established and sustainable.

  • Become an Expert

Through researching and selling products you become an expert in this field. Whether you are selling car parts, jewelry, or wedding supplies you gain knowledge in your industry that customers will come to trust. Use this knowledge to entice more people to your online store and share information that will help customers make a purchase

  • Expand with Ease

Once you have a good foothold on your industry you will start to see connections with other markets. These connections could be upselling or cross-selling opportunities that can help your business gain even more success. This expansion will be easy as you have already set up your brand and established relationships with those offering their products for wholesale. Any new ventures will be quick and simple compared to setting up.

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Types of Wholesale

It can be hard to navigate the wholesale environment as some wholesalers work independently, while others work closely with one or two producers. Overall a wholesale businesses can fall into one of three categories, or types. These are:

  1. Merchant Wholesalers
    This is the most common wholesale types. Merchant wholesalers engage in purchasing larger volumes of products which they sell in smaller quantities for a slightly higher price. Merchant wholesalers do not manufacture their own products but they have in-depth knowledge of products to know when is the right time to start selling them to retail businesses in different industries.
  2. Brokers
    Brokers typically don’t own the products they’re selling; they are the intermediary between a wholesale operator and their clients. A broker negotiates a good deal between the two parties and works off a sales commission structure.
  3. Sales and Distribution
    Instead of relying on wholesale businesses finding a manufacturer, a manufacturer could hire people to actively represent them to wholesalers. This means that a manufacturer will reach out to wholesale operators to offer their products to them, creating wholesale deals that are tailored to individual cases.

What is Wholesale Pricing

A wholesale pricing is the price a manufacturer charges a wholesale to bulk order from them. Because wholesale is buying in bulk a significant discount can be sought from the manufacturer making it possible for a wholesaler to make a profit through retail markup.

Retail markup is the pricing on wholesale products a retailer is charged for a product minus the wholesale price of the product. For example, if a wholesale buys 500 products for a total of $2,000 each product cost $4. The wholesaler might decide to sell these products in groups of 50 to retailers for $400 per 50 products. The price per product has now increased to $8 per product meaning that a wholesaler will make $4 profit per product or $2,000 for the whole shipment. This is what makes wholesale profitable.

What Is the Difference Between a Distributor, Wholesaler and Retailer?

A product has to come a long way until it reaches a paying customer. Wholesalers, distributors, and retailers are all middlemen that are featured in the supply chain and make that journey possible. Each has its own purpose and set of responsibilities that define their role in the network.

Distributor is an independent agent that enters into an agreement with a manufacturer to sell their products to wholesalers or retailers. Distributors often face limitations from manufacturers and are not allowed to sell other product lines or competing products, however, that often boils down to the type of industry and agreement that’s put into place. Typically, distributors carry a very large amount of stock and often have the capacity to warehouse goods for up to a year. Whenever a manufacturer is approached by a potential new buyer, they have to deal with the chosen distributor that becomes their direct point of contact.

Wholesaler is a middleman that buys in bulk from a distributor and resells at a wholesale price to a retailer. Wholesalers can specialize in a certain type of product, such as women’s shoes, or carry a wide range of stock destined for retailers in various different industries. Wholesalers who only stock non-competing products are deemed distributors. Besides breaking bulk orders into smaller quantities, wholesalers can also assemble goods as part of the process. Wholesalers typically tend to warehouse products for shorter periods of time compared to distributors, most commonly for up to six months.

Retailers are for-profit businesses that sell directly to consumers for the purpose of consumption and not resale. To make a profit, a retailer needs to find a wholesaler or a distributor that sells products at the right price point and in the right quantities. Generally, retailers make money by purchasing goods from wholesalers in small quantities at a wholesale price and reselling them at a relatively high price to cover for advertising costs and other expenses, such as staff salaries, rent, utility bills, etc.

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Wholesale Vs Dropshipping

Wholesaling is great as it gives you the ability to buy and sell when and where you want to. You can even choose how to sell your products, so this is a great option for an entrepreneur with enough startup capital.

What is Wholesale? - Learn All About Wholesale (2)

A new type of online retailer known as “dropshipper” has become popular among eCommerce entrepreneurs with little startup capital. A dropshipper is a retailer who doesn’t keep any stock but earns commission on orders transferred to his wholesale dealer. The biggest advantage of this retail fulfillment method is that you don’t need to own or keep the stock you’re selling. When you receive a new order, you simply pass it on to your wholesale partner who handles the product shipping and takes a commission on that. eCommerce businesses that run on a dropshipping model are hugely reliant on wholesale suppliers and need to be strategic about choosing the right partner.

Both business models are great options but are suited for different entrepreneurs.

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Who is a wholesaler very short answer? ›

A wholesaler is a person whose business is buying large quantities of goods and selling them in smaller amounts, for example to shops.

What is the full meaning of wholesaler? ›

noun. whole·​sal·​er ˈhōl-ˌsā-lər. : a merchant middleman who sells chiefly to retailers, other merchants, or industrial, institutional, and commercial users mainly for resale or business use.

What are wholesalers quizlet? ›

Wholesaler. an individual or organization that sells products that are bought for resale, for making other products, or for general business operations.

What does wholesale only mean? ›

Wholesale refers to two possible business models. A business may buy goods in large quantities directly from manufacturers, warehouse them, and resell them. Or wholesale may refer to businesses that produce their own products and sell them directly to retailers, who then sell products to the end user.

What is wholesale answer? ›

Wholesale is the activity of buying and selling goods in large quantities and therefore at cheaper prices, usually to shopkeepers who then sell them to the public. Compare retail. [business]

What is an example of a wholesaler? ›

The most common example of a wholesaler is a company that purchases completed products from manufacturers then distributes these products to retailers, which then sell smaller quantities of the product to the end-user.

Who is wholesaler in one sentence? ›

Anyone who sells goods to other businesses, rather than directly to customers, is a wholesaler.

Why is wholesale important? ›

Because wholesale distribution simplifies operations for manufacturers and retailers, it can also reduce their operating costs. Retailers that buy from wholesalers may also pay lower prices than when buying small quantities directly from manufacturers.

What is the purpose of wholesale? ›

Wholesale is the process of selling goods, generally in large quantities, to retailers who then distribute them onward to the end-user. Wholesale buyers purchase products from the manufacturer at a lower price and sell them to retailers at a higher price.

What are three types of wholesalers? ›


The three categories used in the Census of Wholesale Trade are: 1) merchant wholesalers; 2) agents, brokers, and commission merchants; and manufacturers' sales branches and offices.

How does wholesale order work? ›

A wholesale selling model is one where producers sell their products in bulk to a retailer, usually at a discounted price, who then on-sells the products to their customers.

What does buying at wholesale mean? ›

When you buy merchandise from a wholesaler, you're shopping from the middleman between your retail store and the manufacturer. A wholesale purchase is almost always made in bulk, and because of that, you pay a discounted price for the purchase.

What are the benefits of wholesalers? ›

Wholesalers are able to sell their products for a lower price as they are selling in bulk, which reduces the handling time and costs involved. They usually provide large quantities of goods, but can take on orders for smaller quantities as well.

What are the services of wholesale? ›

Full-service wholesalers usually handle larger sales volumes; they may perform a broad range of services for their customers, such as stocking inventories, operating warehouses, supplying credit, employing salespeople to assist customers, and delivering goods to customers.

What is the most common type of wholesaler? ›

Merchant wholesalers are the most common type of wholesalers who buy all sorts of different and profitable items from different manufacturers, store them, and sell them to the retailers.

What are the three great challenges in wholesaling? ›

Both manufacturers and customers have a troubling tendency to underestimate the three great challenges of wholesaling: Doing the job correctly (no errors) Doing the job effectively (maximum service) Doing the job efficiently (low costs)

What is the biggest advantage of wholesale trade? ›

Wholesale markets therefore play a crucial role in the vertical coordination of food markets, equilibrating supply with demand and facilitating price formation. Their role reduces per unit marketing costs, promotes stable markets for local produce and encourages increased output and productivity.

How much do wholesalers make? ›

How much does a Wholesaler make? As of Jan 8, 2023, the average annual pay for a Wholesaler in the United States is $41,719 a year.

Can anyone use a wholesaler? ›

Can anyone buy from a wholesaler? Usually, wholesale clients are businesses that supply their goods or services to end users, but anyone can buy from a wholesaler.

Where do wholesalers get their products? ›

A wholesaler is a supply company which acts as a middleman between manufacturers and sellers. A wholesale license allows them to buy products in bulk from manufacturers at a discount and sell them to business owners at a slight markup. A wholesaler doesn't typically sell products directly to the end consumers.

What does no wholesale mean? ›

Non Wholesale . – means an activity that produces food for sale that is made to order and supplied direct to the customer/consumer and not manufactured in bulk or pre-manufactured for sale at a future date, and not intended for sale to a retailer for on-sale to a 3rd party consumer.

What is a wholesale customer? ›

More Definitions of wholesale customer

wholesale customer means any person other than a distributor that buys packaged milk, cream, or any dairy product for resale to consumers or to other wholesale customers.

What is difference between wholesale and retail? ›

Wholesaler's main aim is to sell goods to businesses or retailers and they sell it further. On the other hand, a retailer targets the audience is the final consumer and only sell goods only to them. These two business links are important mediators of the marketing channel.

Who is a wholesaler and retailer? ›

A wholesaler sells goods to other stores in the retail industry rather than the consumer. Retailers are business-to-consumer (B2C) companies. This means that the products offered by retailers are directly available for purchase by consumers. Wholesalers are business-to-business (B2B) organizations companies.

What is a wholesaler real estate? ›

Wholesale real estate is a way to buy and sell real estate contracts. Wholesalers act as intermediaries between sellers and buyers, who are usually investors. A wholesaler will usually contact owners of distressed properties and convince them to open a wholesale contract with them.

What is the purpose of a wholesaler? ›

Wholesalers operate as middlemen between product manufacturers and retailers or other businesses. They make a profit by buying products in bulk at a discount and reselling them in smaller quantities at a higher price to individual retailers.

What is wholesale used for? ›

Wholesale refers to the act of distributing large quantities of goods and items to be retailed by others. A wholesaler will acquire stock from manufacturers and sell large quantities to retailers, who will then sell units at an increased price to customers.

What is the basic role of the wholesaler? ›

Wholesalers buy various types of goods from different manufacturers in advance of demand. They store a large stock and make sure goods are always available for retailers. The time gap between in and out of goods leads wholesalers to another function, which is warehousing.

What are the two types of wholesalers? ›

There are two basic kinds of merchant wholesalers: 1) service (sometimes referred to as full-service wholesalers) and 2) limited-function or limited-service wholesalers.


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