Differences Between a Wholesaler and a Retailer

They play significant roles as intermediaries in the distribution chain of goods from manufacturers to consumers.


In this post, we shall examine the differences between a wholesaler and a retailer. By the end of this lesson, students should be able to differentiate between a wholesaler and a retailer.

Wholesalers and Retailers

Both wholesalers and retailers are vital components of the supply chain. They play significant roles as intermediaries in the distribution chain of goods from manufacturers to consumers.


Wholesalers primarily focus on purchasing goods in large quantities and selling them in smaller quantities to retailers. On the other hand, retailers directly interact with consumers, offering products in individual units and creating attractive stores to cater to consumer needs.

Differences between Wholesalers and Retailers

  1. Buying Quantity: Wholesalers purchase goods in large quantities from manufacturers or other suppliers. Retailers on the other hand buy goods in smaller quantities from wholesalers or distributors.
  2. Selling Target: Wholesalers sell the goods in smaller quantities to retailers, not directly to consumers while retailers sell these goods to end consumers, the final buyers of the products.
  3. Premises: Wholesalers operate from warehouse-like premises where they store and manage inventory while retailers operate from shops or stores where they showcase and sell goods directly to consumers.
  4. Role as Middleman: Wholesalers act as intermediaries between manufacturers and retailers, facilitating the distribution process. Retailers on the other hand bridge the gap between wholesalers and consumers, making products available in smaller quantities to the public.
  5. Attractiveness of Shop: Wholesalers’ shops are not typically designed for attracting consumer footfall, as they mainly cater to retailers while retailers focus more on creating attractive and inviting shops to attract consumers and encourage purchases.
  6. Selling Quantity: Wholesalers sell goods in bulk or larger units to retailers. Retailers in turn sell the goods in individual units or smaller packages suitable for consumers.
  7. Price: Wholesalers offer lower prices compared to retailers as they sell in large quantities and focus on profit margins for retailers while retailers offer higher prices, reflecting the additional costs involved in retailing.
  8. Importance to Manufacturers and Consumers: Wholesalers are essential for manufacturers as they help in distributing goods to a wider market. Retailers are essential for consumers as they provide access to products and offer personalized services.
  9. Turnover: Wholesalers usually have a higher turnover due to their larger quantities and dealing with multiple retailers. Retailers however have a lower turnover as they deal with smaller quantities and individual sales.
  10. Agent Role: Sometimes, wholesalers act as agents for manufacturers, representing and promoting their products to retailers. Retailers typically do not act as agents but serve as direct sellers to consumers.
  11. Storage Space: Wholesalers require larger storage space to manage bulk inventory while retailers require smaller storage space as they manage relatively smaller inventories.
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