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Wholesale vs Retail: Key Differences and How to Choose The Right Channel?

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    Sam Thomas

If you intend to run a brick-and-mortar or an online retail business, you should find out where to source products to sell. Wholesale and retail are both popular methods for you to do that. A majority of retailers do not produce and sell their products and enter wholesalers.

What is the real difference between wholesale and retail, and which one is better? In this article, we will help you to figure it out. Now, let's dig into the details!

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What is wholesale?

Wholesale Definition

A wholesaler is a person or business that sells products in a large quantity to different outlets or retailers for onward sale. Because they sell in bulk, wholesalers can sell their products at a lower unit price. By doing this, the time and expenses associated with management will decrease. The wholesaler can also be the product's manufacturer or producer, but they do not necessarily have to.

What is the benefit of wholesale?

Being a wholesaler allows you to access a variety of outlets and reach a broader customer base. Offering your product as a wholesale enables a larger reach to your commodities so that you can expand your business rapidly. Also, retailers can find you attractive as you possess a strong customer base for your products, and as a result, they will be willing to stock your product.

Brand Awareness

Being a wholesaler can help you increase your brand awareness. Customers do not have to buy solely from a singular online or physical store; now, they can find your product in various outlets. A broad range of customers will be aware of your product and may place an order.


If you are a wholesaler, you should not miss out on drop-shipping, which is an effective selling method. The commodity is sold by a retailer or dealer who does not own the inventory. The order is sent directly to you, and the product is delivered directly to the customer instead. Thanks to drop-shipping, you can benefit from targeted branding and a direct line to the customer, whereas a specialist retailer manages things at the front end. You maintain inventory control.

When it comes to drop-shipping, the core system of your company should tell you the distinction of your drop-ship orders with, others be they in the form of a drop-ship symbol against orders, a different order status, or a report filter. You can distinguish these orders rapidly, and based on your drop-shipping workflows; it facilitates reporting and order processing.

Global Expansion

If you sell your products through a wholesale, expanding into global markets will be easier and quicker. Any growth and expansion are primarily determined by your relationship with those people who purchased products from you. If they sell internationally, then you will expand because you send the items to where they need to sell them.

To allow for multicurrency transactions, you must make sure that you have already set up your accounting system. By doing this, you can sell via various currencies to your multiple clients speedily and effortlessly. Besides, when selling via wholesale, you will be shipping your goods internationally as one large container, instead of sending hundreds of individual retail packages. Based on your workflows and product expenses, globally selling is much more cost-effective in this case.

What is retail?


A retailer is a person or a company that sells products directly to its customers for a profit. The retailer may be the manufacturer of the product or may acquire relevant products from a distributor or a wholesaler.

What is the benefit of retail?

If you want to maintain total control of your product lines and prefer to retain customer relationships. If you are in this role, there's plenty to think about. You should be attentive to your consumer preferences and their possibly changing interests and needs.

Targeted Consumer Base

You’re able to target a tailored consumer base specially. By being the retailer, you can personally select the channels like an online store, a brick and mortar store, or a physical one, any channel that is most likely to reach customers that demand your product.

The whole thing is to make sure that you are reporting on these sales channels to make adjustments immediately when necessary. Perhaps, you could profit a lot on a product sold on Amazon while every other brand visits your website. Or, a specific type of product may sell better on Amazon than on your brick and mortar store? You should bring your products to the best channels and target the right customers.

Personal Connection

Your knowledge about your customer base will be comprehensive. As you are performing direct deals with them directly, you can get to know their preferences and their shopping habits, and your company can respond rapidly to that. It is also very convenient reporting in your business system- with the various customer, sales, and product reports. You can notice the best sellers and no sellers.

You can also see who your best customers are, and maybe you could offer them a personalized deal. You can have an option to send the customer who hasn't been purchasing from you for a long time a personalized email to convince them to place another order. Your knowledge about their purchasing habits helps you a great deal about personalizing your service; then, your consumers will recognize and appreciate it.

Control Over Brand Identity

Gaining control enables you to make sure that your brand identity does not get diluted and ruined. You can handle the place you want your product to be seen, how it is shown, and what other items to be displayed alongside. You control the product marketing of the product. Therefore, you can guarantee the consistency of the way you want your product to be seen with the messages you convey to your audience.

Price and Profit Margin

When planning your retail plan, you will determine which price of your product you should set and at what profit margin. All of the income will stay with you directly, and it will not be shared with a wholesaler. To make sure that your goods give you the best possible margins, you can use the margin reports of your system and make the necessary adjustments if appropriate.

Via your sales channels, you should also keep track of your margins because each platform will incur different fees, like eBay or Amazon charges. Remember your costs of landing, like insurance, shipping, and taxes. To make sure your profits are fulfilling and increasing, you must surpass these costs.

Wholesale vs Retail: What are the key differences?


Retail typically involves simple, transactional relationships with the general public - solving order issues, responding to product-related questions, etc. A significant amount of time may be spent building brand advocates on social media; however, as a rule, the relationship is straightforward and does not need to proceed to anything significant.

To build up the strong relationships, a wholesaler has to invest a lot of time and effort. The wholesaler recognizes that the interest and trust of the customer is one of the reasons customers purchase from you because with the professional salesperson. To acquire the trust from them, you should be confident that the client can pay their outstanding order balances frequently and punctually.


Retail customers generally buy a small number of products, and while competitive pricing is a crucial factor in determining the decision to purchase, it is not vital. In contrast, wholesalers would be seeking the most favorable price that can be provided, as they are purchasing much larger volumes. You must know the pricing of your market to make the necessary corrections to satisfy your wholesale customers. You must also understand the disparity between the wholesale price and the retail price to bring a good deal for the right type of customer.

With both wholesale and retail selling, you may discover yourself competing directly with your wholesale clients. The consequence may be devastating, either one of you will lose money, and your relationship will be ruined. Creating contracts and including agreed pricing criteria may address this issue by lowering the possibility of undercutting each other. You can be selective with your retail items, with the remaining items in your inventory being available only to wholesalers; however, it decreases your sale volumes.


As a retailer, you should have a strong handle on how much inventory is needed to meet customer demand. You should also project changes all year round. It can be a tricky balancing act, and it needs extensive preparation to incorporate wholesale into your business to avoid affecting your optimum inventory levels. You must also fulfill a large wholesale order, only to be left with almost nothing to sell to your retail customers who usually deliver higher profit margins.

When it comes to your supplier purchasing, you must take into account inventory requirements for each new wholesale client to ensure that you keep the optimum stock levels for your company, freeing up cash in the process. If you are producing your products, optimizing your production process will be required to fulfill your customers ' demands.

Do not forget the drop-shipping-a method where a specific business performs the distribution storage function, manages your orders, and ships them to your customers. Although the technique can be applied for both retail and wholesale customers, the drop-shippers should know the demand for stock well to avoid getting caught.

Additional warehouse/storage space will probably be necessary if you choose to sell wholesale, and you should take it into account in your choice. Would you have enough place to store thousands of new items right now? Cross-docking – the method of obtaining a supplier 's order and then delivering it directly to the customer without keeping it in the warehouse – may help to alleviate storage issues. Or maybe you should advance to a bigger location?

Profit Margins

Your profit margins are one of the key factors for selling goods to both retail and wholesale. As a wholesaler, you can purchase vast amounts of goods at lower cost rates, increasing the profit margins while selling the product to retail customers. In your competition, you can be more active thanks to your product's lower unit cost and your retail prices on your website.

Ecommerce Requirements

You should make sure that your eCommerce platform can perform the features as below:

Display different prices for wholesale and retail customers

Sales wholesale is bulk sales, and thus obviously comes with a lower price per unit of product. You should tell the difference between product pricing for retail and wholesale customers by showing different prices for each segment of customers once they are logged into your website. To do this, you can use Neto with the customer groups add-on as well as the multilevel pricing add-on to set quantity-based pricing.

Repeat orders from the order history

Based on what you sell, Retail customers are less likely to re-order the same items from you. In contrast, it is quite popular for wholesale customers. Therefore, you should make it convenient for them to quickly re-request orders from their order history and make any minor modifications that they might need. This functionality is integrated into every Neto webshop template, enabling online retail and wholesale customers to reorder the whole orders whenever desired speedily.

Manage account and pay the account balance

The ability to pay off an account balance is another outstanding feature for both retailers and wholesalers. It is typical for the order to be payable at a later date if you sell wholesale. Also, processing the payments manually is taken care of as you enable the client to pay their balance from the website itself. Once again, this feature is available in Neto's webshop templates.

Repeat Business

One of the fantastic things about wholesaling is repeatedly re-selling to the same customer, a customer with whom you have a strong and stable business relationship. As mentioned in the preceding section, buying the same product twice is uncommon for a retail customer, but it is normal for wholesalers. Wholesaling enables you to sell a lot more of the same item.

Delivery Speed

Amazon is well-known for its fast delivery, and customers love it. To compete with a giant like Amazon, as a retailer, you should try your best to decrease shipping delivery times. If you are a wholesaler, there is a high likelihood that your clients order your products in advance; therefore, the speed of delivery speed may not matter to them. As they have solid relationships, they will potentially be from your backyard, making delivery times faster, and more cost-effective.

Marketing and Customer Reach

Although email is a vital component for retailers while marketing, it is less significant for wholesale customers, who typically have a clear understanding of what items they intend to order. For wholesale companies, as email marketing happens, it ought to become even more tailored to suit the specific and distinctive consumer requirements.

For wholesale customers, a physical catalog is something to take into account-a typically preferred method of searches. It can be daunting, as the catalog needs to be updated regularly to demonstrate the most competitive pricing.

Wholesale selling has the remarkable benefit of having access to a wider variety of shops and outlets that widen customers' base. If the number of retailers who buy your products increases, your eCommerce shop is promoting your branding to wider audiences, growing brand recognition, and organic traffic.

If you are selling wholesale to retailers, you must give up your brand control as you are not certain about the consistency of the way they will show or advertise your products with your brand identity. You are not sure about the place of your products in the store and the type of company they will maintain, either.

Overall, to grow your business, you should sell in different practices. In terms of wholesaling, it may be challenging, but it can help you to yield a lot of sales by reaching a brand new audience. You should try to get the most out of this selling method.

Wholesale vs Retail: What’s the best choice for you?

If you have already launched your small business, you may intend to start as a retailer. You probably don't have the existing capacity to fulfill demands on the wholesale. Consider taking the time to set up your product and create an audience. You can sell the products online and deliver them directly to the customer.

The growth and expansion of your company involve your preparation to make a high quantity of products available, you can take into consideration using wholesale suppliers to direct yourself into brick-and-mortar shops. Alternatively, you can decide to launch brick-and-mortar stores of your own. Bear in mind that you do not necessarily have to select one or the other. In some circumstances, thriving businesses do both.

Capable of selling your creative works and controlling your own business can give you a sense of flexibility you need. Whether you are a retailer or a wholesaler, you can accomplish that financial independence and establish a profitable business.

When deciding the appropriate route to market, take into account what model best suits your strengths and personality as an entrepreneur, your company's brand identity, and its product(s), the best way to reach your target market.

Make sure to assess your product and employees' strengths and to analyze the ways that are available to you. Consider how much control you want to keep with the product and how much face-to-face contact you need or want to have with the consumer.

If you choose to become a wholesaler, prioritize on selling to retailers by delivering the best services to your resellers so they can expand their business and rely on you as a repetitive supplier. If you decide to concentrate on retail, optimize the channels that will expand your business to decrease the need to rely on resellers, and the channels that offer profitability for you.

If you are capable of handling both wholesale and retail at the same time, you should consider strategies that will enable you to improve the retail side of your business while also selling to retailers without competing against yourself.

Can Retailer Sell Wholesale and Vice Versa?

Why don't we just apply both of them? In practice, it may not be viable for a number of the following reasons:

Competing Against Yourself

By being both a retailer and a wholesaler, you run the risk of competing directly with your resellers; thus you are competing with your product. You should not undermine your resellers because it would harm your wholesale relationship with them, and retailers will be hesitant to subsequently take your stock. To make sure that you are not undercutting your competition or hurting your profits, you should have separate price lists based on either vendor, sales channel, or both and monitor them.

Different Ranges of Products

One solution to prevent competing directly with your resellers is to offer one line of products at your outlets and sell a completely different variety of wholesale products. It could be different items, or the same product in other designs, colors, or sizes. You can achieve this via successful product tracking and SKU tracking to monitor each outlet's items and performance.

Profit Margins

If you decide to sell through both wholesale and retail, you have to ensure that your wholesale prices exceed your expenses and still generate a profit. In this case, you should have a good grasp of your true inventory costs. Landed costs, for example, are often hidden costs you might not always consider, like insurance, fees, and taxes. So if you are pricing products, you should always factor these costs in addition to the usual costs of delivering goods to your customers and receiving products into your warehouse.

Before pricing your products, you should know these inventory costs well to make sure that you gain the most profit, in alignment with the products that you sell and your target audience.


To sum up, we have shown you the definition and benefit of wholesale and retails, the discrepancies between the two selling methods, the most suitable option for you, and the negative answer to the question: "Can retailers sell? Wholesale and vice versa?". We hope you have made up your mind about the right selling strategy for your business and follow the right track to a profitable market.

If you have chosen wholesale selling, you should know everything with you about wholesale, the benefits of buying from a wholesaler, and how to find and select a wholesaler for your business. Let's check out our post: What is Wholesale? Everything You Need to Know!.

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, do not hesitate to leave a comment below or directly contact us. We are always ready to help you out in case you need anything. Furthermore, if you find our article useful, you can share it with your social network's community. We would appreciate it if you could do that.

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