What is a Wholesaler? Everything You Need To Know

what is a wholesaler + wholesale definition

Whether you’re a savvy business owner or a frequent shopper, chances are you’ve purchased items from a wholesaler at some point in your life. But what exactly are they, and what do they do?

A wholesaler sells goods to retailers and other businesses. They purchase large quantities of products from manufacturers and store them in warehouses. They supply these goods to other companies, selling the products to the public.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about them! This content will take a closer look at wholesalers and how they operate. We’ll also describe the different players involved in the process and how they make profits.

What wholesalers do & what they serve

Wholesalers are an excellent option for those looking to save money by buying large quantities. They are a person or business that sells goods in bulk. These goods can be anything from food to clothes to building materials.

Businesses that commonly purchase goods from wholesalers include the following:

  • Restaurants
  • Grocery stores
  • Event planners

How does the wholesaling process work?

The wholesale process is a supply chain that starts with manufacturers selling their goods to wholesalers. Wholesalers will make these goods available to retailers and their buyers.

Here’s a detailed description of the basic steps involved in wholesaling:

The manufacturer sells its goods to a wholesaler

The manufacturer produces goods sold to retailers and consumers by wholesalers. With the help of the wholesale process, consumers can access the products they desire without going to the manufacturer.

Here are a few popular manufacturers in the United States:

  • AppleThis tech giant makes computers, smartphones, tablets, and accessories.
  • NikeThe world’s biggest supplier of athletic footwear and apparel.
  • FordThe American automotive manufacturer sells vehicles, parts, and accessories.

The wholesaler sells the goods to a retailer

After purchasing products from the manufacturer, wholesalers are charged with distributing them to retailers. Wholesalers typically buy large quantities of goods in bulk from suppliers and manufacturers, storing them in warehouses until a retailer requests an order. This process allows retailers to get the products they need quickly and efficiently without worrying about ordering directly from a factory or supplier.

Here are a few examples of wholesalers that sell to retailers:

  • CostcoThis wholesale warehouse sells bulk products like food, electronics, clothing, and appliances.
  • AmazonThis e-commerce company is an online wholesaler that sells products to retailers and consumers through its website.

Different pricing strategies wholesalers use

Many wholesalers operate on slim profit margins, so they need to ensure that they’re charging a high enough price to make a profit but not so much that it will turn off potential buyers.

Cost-plus pricing to cover costs

With cost-plus pricing, wholesalers will add a markup to these costs to determine the final price they charge to retailers and consumers. In most cases, this markup is around 25-30%. They factor in all the costs that go into acquiring and selling a product, such as:

  • Shipping fees: Wholesalers must pay to ship their goods from the manufacturer to their warehouse.
  • Warehousing fees: Wholesalers have to pay to store and manage their inventory. Marketing costs include marketing materials and ad campaigns promoting the products.

Flat pricing based on volume

With this approach, the wholesaler will set a single price for any order that meets a certain volume threshold. For example, a wholesaler might charge retailers $10 per unit for any order that’s more than 100 units.

And while this strategy is straightforward, it also has its downsides. For one thing, it encourages retailers to buy in bulk even if they don’t necessarily need that much product at a given time. Additionally, it can take time to predict how much of a particular item will sell throughout a given period.

Competitive pricing based on market conditions

competitive pricing strategy is one in which the wholesaler will charge whatever price they believe will be most attractive to retailers. The strategy is based on the idea that wholesalers must be competitive with other wholesalers in their industry. They should work to understand price trends, demand fluctuations, and other market conditions to make the most profitable decisions.

The strategy is more challenging to implement because it requires careful market monitoring. However, it’s arguably more effective over the long term since wholesalers can adapt or change prices to reflect changing conditions.

The benefits of buying goods through a wholesaler

There are many reasons why retailers might purchase goods through a wholesaler instead of directly from the manufacturer. Here are just a few:

  • Convenience: Wholesalers make it easy for retailers to browse through their massive catalogs and order whatever they need. They can provide shipping options that are faster, more affordable, and more reliable.
  • Accessibility: Wholesalers are often much easier to work with than manufacturers. They are typically more responsive, willing to negotiate terms, and eager to build long-term relationships. Plus, they often can offer custom solutions that are only possible with a manufacturer.
  • Wide distribution networks: Wholesalers have extensive connections with a wide array of retailers, which means they can help to get your products into stores much more quickly and effectively.

The potential downsides to using a wholesaler

While wholesalers can be a great asset for a retailer, there are also some potential downsides to working with them. 

  • Higher prices: Wholesalers may charge retailers a higher fee than they would pay if they bought directly from the manufacturer. Wholesalers often add a markup to the wholesale cost to make a profit.
  • Longer lead times: It can take longer for retailers to get products into their customers’ hands. Wholesalers have their supply chains to manage and may have different control over product availability than manufacturers.
  • Less control over pricing: If the wholesaler overprices a product, retailers may be required to do the same to stay competitive.


Wholesalers are a crucial part of the supply chain. They buy products directly from manufacturers and then resell them to retailers. While they may charge a markup or add other fees to the products they sell, they can also offer numerous benefits that can be difficult or impossible to obtain through direct manufacturer-to-retailer transactions.

Whether a business is looking for greater convenience, better distribution, easier negotiations, or more control over pricing, working with a wholesaler can be an effective strategy for success.

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