Explain difference between wholesaler and retailers and their types.

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1) Wholesalers –
These are the organisations that buy and resell products to other resellers like retailers, other merchants or to industrial buyers, and not in significant amount to end users. They take title to the products they trade in. They buy the products in large quantities and break down the bulk basis the requirement for distribution to retailers, etc. They provide range of services to buyers as well as manufacturers like transportation, buying on credit, etc.

There are different kinds of wholesalers and they can be broadly put into the below categories-

a) Full function wholesaler – they buy products/goods from manufacturers and sell them to other resellers like retailers, traders, etc. below the marketing or distribution channel. They buy in bulk from different manufacturers, break down the bulk, store, sell the smaller lots for cash or credit, and also helps with information (advice, education, etc.) to whom he sells. As they take title to the products, they are also responsible for the risk factor involved.

b) Converter wholesaler – as the name suggests, they buy the products in bulk, process them before selling them to the following channel members. For example, a wholesaler buys textile and bleaches it before selling it to other merchants.

c) Industrial wholesalers – they sell the products to manufacturers instead of retailers.


d) Drop shipper wholesaler – a drop shipper wholesaler doesn’t handles the product. They take orders and coordinates with the manufacturer to deliver the goods directly to the retailer or other merchants in the channel. As they take the risk of the products, they need to handle the products in case the retailer, etc. cancels the order. They trade in bulk like coal, sand, lumber, etc.

2) Retailers –
Retailers sell products/ goods to final consumers for consumption or use. Retailers buy the products from different sources like manufacturers, wholesalers, traders, etc. basis the need and want in the market. They are considered the final link with the consumer in the marketing/ distribution channel. Most of the retailing in retail stores though new concept of retailing called non-store retailing is becoming popular. It is direct selling to customers via infomercials, telecalling, internet selling, ecommerce, direct mail, personal selling, etc.

Retailers can be broadly classifies as small scale retailers and large scale retailers.

i) Small scale retailers –
a) Unit stores – these are general stores or single line stores like clothes, gift shops, grocery stores, utensils, book shops, bakery, etc.

b) Street traders – they sell products on streets, footpaths, etc. They usually sell items that can be easily carried and are quite unique like, mobile accessories, gloves, fancy accessories, etc. They can often be found at bus stands, railway stations, etc. on busy places at times when people go out for shopping, to work etc.

c) Market traders – these open for selling on specific days and move around wherever there is an event, or time specified market. They have a fixed location and arrangement made for selling like a selling van, setting a kiosk, outlet, etc. on a fixed location. For example, farmers market, magic event, crockery sales, etc.

d) Hawkers and Peddlers – these retailers sell goods door to door on their cart, bicycle, etc. They carry items that are in demand and as the demand changes because of various reasons like season change, they start selling different products. A hawker selling woollen clothes in winter may change to selling clothes suitable for warm climate in summer.

e) Cheap jacks – these retailers have a specific place in a locality but do change locations for business. They usually sell unbranded items like clothes, plastic vessels, kitchen utensils, shows, etc. They set up the business for a specific time before changing location.


ii) Large scale retailers –
a) Departmental stores –a departmental store has wide variety of products being sold under one roof. From there one can find a raincoat to a pen. They sell a particular specialized product or an entire product line.

b) Discount store – here a standard items are sold at lower prices. The business is done on higher sales and lower profit margins. For example, Wal-Mart, 49-99.

c) Chain stores – these are stores near residential areas selling the same kind of products in different localities. These can be in the entire region, state or nation. For example, Nike stores, Dell, Raymond, Big Bazaar, etc. The have their chains in almost all towns. These centrally owned and managed. They mostly deal in same products across all chains like, fast food chains, Nike products, etc. The items for sale are bought centrally and sent across to all the chains. Since it operates under the same brand, the prices and quality is standardized. For example, a McDonald’s outlet will have same kind of price range, and feel and appearance of the store in different locations.

d) Mail order houses – through this the seller shares information about the product via different
means like advertising, press, post, catalogue, telecalling, etc. The buyer doesn’t visit the seller but orders the product and receives it via post, courier, etc. The business is done by mail or other means without inspecting the product by the consumer. TV advertising like infomercials are considered as extension of mail order houses. Here the sellers provide as much information as possible to the consumer through different media as customer will buy the product basis the advertising.

e) Super market – it is a large retail store which sells a variety of consumer goods with self-service. They sell food items and articles of daily needs like, cold cream, bakery, vegetables, meat, groceries, fruits, dairy, etc. They done deal in credits and consumers move around the store to choose products of their choice from a wide variety.

f) Super stores – These are oversize department stores and also known as hypermarkets. They carry a wide range of general merchandise and FMCG’s. A customer can get services like haircuts, salons, restaurants, banking, etc. at these stores.

g) Convenience stores – These are small stores that deal in limited-line of high selling goods at a higher price. They are like mini-supermarkets. They are located at the corner and have fast food franchise or fast food items also.

h) Consumer cooperative – It is an association of consumers themselves who buy products in large bulk for members as well as non-members. The consumers or locality residents themselves manage all the activities from designating a manager to setting the policies of the store.

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