What Wholesaling Business Model? And How Does It Work?

Wholesaling is one of the world’s oldest and most successful business models. Usually, wholesalers use a wholesaling business model to sell products in bulk to retailers, who then repackage those products and resale them in smaller quantities and at higher prices. The retailer is responsible for sorting, reassembling, and repackaging the goods for direct retail sale to consumers.

Wholesaling results in higher quantities sold but with lower prices. It allows retailers to buy items in bulk, and often at a discount, and add a profit margin to them and sell them forward.

The price charged by wholesalers is not the final price of the product. The retailer dictates the final price of the product by applying a profit margin to products.

How does Wholesaling Business Model work?

There are various types of wholesalers. Some may specialize in specific products or goods, while others may cater to the needs of customers from a particular category.

Wholesalers act as an intermediary between two top participants of a supply chain, the manufacturer and the retailer. The wholesaling business model is an example of a Business-to-Business business model.

A wholesaler buys goods in bulk from the original manufacturer or company. Then it adds a small margin to these goods and sells them to retailers.

The wholesalers, in this process, does little work. All they do is transfer goods from the manufacturer of their products to a location that is accessible to retailers or a warehouse.

Wholesalers don’t sell to a single retailer. Similarly, most wholesalers don’t sell products to consumers either. They buy products from the source and act as an essential part of the supply chain for the product.

Usually, wholesalers sell their products to a group of retailers who are then responsible for making those products marketable and available for consumers to buy.

Wholesalers don’t usually provide any support when it comes to the products they sell. Sometimes, they don’t even interact with the company from which they buy goods. Some wholesalers also deal with products or categories in which they don’t have any expertise.

While wholesalers are common in most consumer products supply chains, they may also be a part of the services industry. For example, wholesalers exist in the banking and finance industry or even the utility industry, such as electricity wholesalers.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the Wholesaling business model?

Being one of the most well-known business models around the world, wholesaling comes with some advantages and disadvantages, as discussed below.


Businesses using a wholesaling business model don’t need to focus on marketing as compared to some other participants in the supply chain.

Wholesalers merely need to exist in the supply chain to provide the funds necessary to buy products in bulk from a manufacturer and sell them to retailers. The marketing aspect of products usually relates to either the manufacturer or the retailer.

Wholesalers also get a fixed margin in the products, usually between 3% to 10%. Therefore, they don’t have to worry about the profit margin in the business because they know how much profit they will make from specific items. On the other hand, the profit margins of products may vary for other participants in the chain.

The Wholesaling business model is also one of the safest for the business using it. The role of wholesalers in a supply chain is to connect manufacturers with retailers.

Usually, producers want to dispose of a high volume of goods at a fast pace. On the other hand, retailers may not have the capacity or power to buy these goods in bulk. Therefore, wholesalers provide their services, bridging the gap between the two.


As mentioned, wholesalers provide heavy investments to be an intermediary in the supply chain of a product. Therefore, the wholesaling business model has high capital requirements.

Usually, when wholesalers buy products in bulk, they can’t dispose of them at once. Hence, they need to have enough capital to hold a substantial inventory while also being open to purchasing new items.

Another issue with the wholesaling business model is cash flow problems. Companies sell goods to wholesalers on cash, while wholesalers sell items to retailers for credit. It creates a negative cash flow at most times for the wholesaler, who has to manage cashflows to stay in business.

Similarly, the wholesaling business model also comes with high holding and storage costs. Since wholesalers buy in bulk, they need to have the capacity to store products for retailers to purchase. Sometimes, these may come with high prices, which further needs them to bear more costs.


Some of the big-name wholesalers around the world are Dhgate, Chinabrands, AliExpress, DealExtreme, Doba, etc. These are all companies that deal in a wide variety of products that they present to retailers. Some of these also provide international services, which makes them the most prominent wholesalers in the world.


The Wholesaling business model is one of the oldest and most reliable business models. Wholesalers are intermediaries who buy products in bulk from manufacturers and sells them to retailers. Overall, they are a vital part of any supply chain that incorporates intermediaries.