What Does Wholesale Trade Mean? (Plus How It Works, Benefits and Examples)

What is Wholesale ? | Wholesale and Wholesaler meaning explained

Who uses wholesale trade?

Many industries, including grocery, home goods, electronics, manufacturing, publishing, agriculture, and mining and resource extraction, engage in wholesale trade. A business can use wholesale trade to increase inventory to meet demand, manage warehousing, monitor inventory storage, and achieve distribution objectives. By ensuring on-time deliveries, maintaining a sufficient supply, and maintaining product quality while in storage, efficient use of wholesale trade can improve an organization’s reputation. Listed below are a few different categories of businesses involved in wholesale trade:

What does wholesale trade mean?

The practice of buying goods in bulk and reselling them to businesses or other wholesalers in smaller quantities is known as wholesale trade. They frequently offer products at lower prices than retailers, which can enable their clients to cut costs on raw materials and boost profit margins. Usually, wholesale traders keep their products in a warehouse or office.

While the majority of wholesale trade involves large quantities, some wholesalers provide discounted lots of goods for startups and smaller businesses that need less inventory. Wholesalers may also provide a middleman service to assist a different company in contacting suppliers of raw materials, production components, or long-lasting non-consumer goods like packaging materials.

Wholesale trade vs. consumer trade

It’s helpful to contrast wholesale trade with another prevalent type of trade called consumer trade in order to better understand it. Here are some of the primary distinctions and parallels between these two forms of trade:


The goal of consumer trade, also referred to as commercial trade or retail trade, is to market to the final consumer for a specific product. For instance, a shoe store may place advertisements on billboards, social media, and newspapers to draw specific customers. Conversely, wholesale trade places more of an emphasis on business clients and non-consumer clients like colleges, governmental organizations, and industrial end users. For instance, a wholesaler might provide 100 different styles of shoes from the same brand, which shoe stores could purchase to replenish their stock.


While offering a variety of products, wholesale traders may also provide raw materials for production. For instance, a wholesaler might sell wood to a company that makes chairs. Contrarily, consumer traders deal in finished goods that are available for consumers to purchase and take home. For instance, a consumer trader might provide a variety of wooden furnishings, such as chairs, tables, and shelves.

Customer relationships

Consumer traders may establish relationships with their clients through marketing or advertising, depending on the sector. They frequently focus their marketing efforts on potential customers because they are typically interested in expanding their customer base. Conversely, wholesalers use sales calls, networking, and industry knowledge to bring in new clients. Wholesaler traders can benefit from gaining new clients, but they frequently put more emphasis on preserving long-term client relationships.

Benefits of wholesale trade

A business can gain from wholesale trade in many different ways. Using wholesale trade can improve cost effectiveness across all industries, give quick access to new inventory, and help the company you work for meet its revenue targets. Consider the following additional advantages of implementing wholesale trade:

How does wholesale trade work?

Knowing more about how wholesale trade operates could help you decide if it’s the best option for your organization’s requirements. Wholesale trade typically follows this process:

Purchasing in bulk

Depending on the sector in which it operates, a wholesaler may invest heavily in raw materials, distribution components, durable goods, or production supplies. Wholesalers keep their stock in a location that is simple to access and maintain, like a warehouse. Wholesale trade businesses with a focus on men’s clothing, electronics, or office supplies Wholesalers make sure their inventory only includes non-competitive materials in accordance with industry norms. A trade organization is regarded as a distributor rather than a wholesaler if it sells goods made by rival companies, such as various shoe brands.

Selling to organizations

In consumer trade, a retailer or other commercial establishment identifies the needs of the client and provides goods to fill those needs. Wholesalers play an intermediary role in the consumer trade process while wholesale trade focuses on business-to-business (B2B) relationships. Wholesalers establish business ties with their customers, who include retail traders, governmental entities, institutions of higher learning, and other end users. Wholesale traders regularly help businesses make more money by providing materials at prices lower than retail prices, which frequently entices customers to return and place additional orders for goods.

Fulfilling orders

The delivery of the client’s purchases is typically part of the fulfillment service that wholesale traders provide. Wholesale traders can help their clients effectively maintain the right amount of inventory and better meet the demands of their customers by making prompt deliveries to them. This can enhance a wholesale trader’s standing in the marketplace, which will grow their clientele and increase their profit margins.

Maintaining relationships

In contrast to retailers, wholesale traders typically target the B2B market rather than the general public. Instead of having their products on display in a physical location where customers can come in and buy them, wholesale traders conduct business over the phone, during a sales visit, via email, or on their website. Wholesale customers typically start the transaction, as opposed to retail customers who might do so in response to an advertisement.

Examples of the wholesale trade process

To better understand the process, consider these three instances of wholesale trade in action:

Example of wholesale trade in retail

A wholesaler that specializes in perishable grocery items like produce and meat is called Whole Goods. It obtains its ingredients from local farmers, including organic, mass-market, and low-cost food products. Whole Goods keeps a sizable, climate-controlled warehouse to make sure the products are fresh when clients receive them. Regular customers call Whole Goods to arrange an order that is suitable for their retail grocery store. Following delivery, Whole Goods contacts the customer to see if they’d like to place another order within a week.

Example of wholesale trade in manufacturing

Stone Materials is a large trader who provides manufacturers with raw materials. It focuses on regional stone types, such as granite and slate from a nearby quarry. Stone Materials carries inexpensive, moderately priced, and expensive stone materials to appeal to a variety of customers. Stone Materials keeps a dry environment to avoid eroding some expensive inventory that may be kept in storage for a while.

Manufacturing clients often purchase supplies from the Stone Materials website. The wholesaler sends a sample to the manufacturer whenever a new customer places an order. Stone Materials delivers the material after the client approves the sample, and then gets in touch with them to talk about the client’s subsequent order.

Example of wholesale trade in education

Dedicated to providing educational clients with books and study materials, Brilliant Books is a wholesale trade organization. The trader typically serves colleges and universities, so to keep its inventory current, it works with publishers to buy current textbooks and educational media. To keep its inventory in good condition, Brillant Books keeps it in a dry, well-ventilated warehouse.

After consulting with faculty about their textbook needs, educational clients place an order with Brilliant Books that is suitable for their library or university bookstore. The wholesaler then completes the order and follows up ahead of the subsequent term to arrange for a subsequent shipment.


What is considered wholesale trade?

The wholesale trade sector, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), includes the sale of goods produced by the manufacturing, agricultural, mining, publishing, and a few other information industries.

What is the difference between wholesaler and retailer trade?

Who purchases the goods being sold is a crucial distinction between retail and wholesale. In a retail setting, the consumer or end-user buys the item straight from the retailer. However, a wholesaler sells goods to other retail establishments rather than directly to customers.

What does it mean to buy wholesale?

When you purchase goods from a wholesaler, you are doing business with the middleman who stands between your retail establishment and the manufacturer. A wholesale purchase is typically made in large quantities, so you pay less for it as a result.

What does it mean when a product is wholesale?

Purchasing goods in bulk from a manufacturer at a lower cost and selling them to a retailer for a higher price so they can repackage and sell them to customers in smaller quantities for an even higher price is known as wholesaling.

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