Difference Between Wholesale Vs Retail And Which One Should You Use

Brandon Ginsberg
Brandon Ginsberg
CEO | ApparelMagic

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Understanding the distinction between retail and wholesale when starting a business will help you choose the option that is best for your needs and goals. There are many factors that determine which business model is better for you, but the first thing you should do is make sure you thoroughly understand the differences between retail and wholesale.

In this article, we’re covering the definitions of retail and wholesale, as well as the main differences between these two types of business operation methods to help you determine which one you should use. 

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

What is Wholesale

Wholesale companies or wholesalers offer their products or services to other companies rather than directly to consumers. For instance, a company that distributes produce to various grocery stores in the region is a wholesaler.

The majority of wholesalers offer their customers discounts the more of these wholesale items they buy while selling them in bulk at affordable prices. A wholesaler may manufacture product offering or they can just sell products to another business for direct consumer sales.

What is eCommerce Wholesale?

Wholesale eCommerce refers to selling goods to other businesses online, at a discount, or in bulk. The market value of eCommerce wholesale in 2021 was $13.09 trillion. 

What is Retail

Retail refers to the sale of products or services directly to the end customer. Grocery, drug, clothing, and convenience stores are all examples of retail businesses. Customers at these stores can walk right in and make their purchases there, bypassing a middleman. 

What is Retail eCommerce

Retail eCommerce refers to the sale of products and services directly to consumers via the Internet (on an eCommerce platform). More than $1 trillion in annual sales are generated by the 18 largest eCommerce marketplaces. The biggest retailer in the world of eCommerce is Amazon.

The Difference Between Wholesale vs Retail

So, what is the difference between retail and wholesale? Here are the key differences between wholesale vs retail:

Who buys the products

The main difference between wholesale and retail is who actually buys the products that are being sold. Wholesale customers are other retail establishments, not individual customers. When it comes to retail, the end-user buys the item directly from the retailer.

Retailers are regarded as B2C, or business-to-consumer organizations, whereas wholesalers are B2B, i.e. businesses-to-business companies. 


Retailers typically have a greater number of competitors in comparison with wholesale companies. While an industry may have hundreds or even thousands of shops that sell the same or similar products, there might only be a few wholesalers in the same sector.

As a result, retail business owners must develop competitive strategies to get people to their stores in order to avoid losing business to a competitor’s retail offers.

Product control

Retail companies typically have more control over how, when, where, and how much of their products are sold. Wholesalers have less control over their products since they have no more power over what happens to their products once a retailer buys them.


Retailers often have more expenses compared to wholesale businesses. Retail businesses must consider marketing, advertising, inventory management, and other strategies to draw and keep retail customers, all of which are time and money-consuming. In addition, they need to take into account overhead costs like employee salaries and rent.

On the other hand, since the retailer is the only client that wholesalers have to worry about, they often don’t incur these costs. Additionally, as wholesalers move products in large quantities, shipping and overhead costs are frequently reduced.

Product price

Retailer businesses typically sell a product for more money than they paid for it when they bought it from the wholesaler. On the other hand, wholesalers usually provide their products at a discounted price when purchased in bulk, enabling retailers to turn a profit when selling these products in their shops.

Customer interaction

Retailers interact directly with customers on a regular basis, either in-person at brick-and-mortar locations, by addressing customer queries and issues, or by handling product returns and exchanges. Because the products they sell are shipped directly to the merchant, wholesalers do not deal with end users.

Focus on customer experience

Unlike wholesalers, retailers are very concerned with the client experience, and they make a concerted effort to get consumers to their stores and persuade them to make purchases. Retailers invest a lot of time and resources into making sure that factors like customer service and marketing initiatives are effective because they all play an important role in customer experience. 

Wholesalers, on the other hand, are often not customer-facing organizations, which means that they are much less focused on the CX.

Retail Benefits and Challenges

Let’s take a closer look at the benefits you can enjoy if you choose to open a retail store:

  • The ability to establish a personal connection with the customers is one of the main advantages for retail companies. Retailers have the opportunity to develop relationships with their customers since they sell products directly to them. Additionally, they have access to valuable behavioral data, which can help them make informed decisions about their procurement and marketing strategies. 
  • Retail businesses also have greater control over their pricing strategy, which means that they are free to choose their retail prices in accordance with their desired profit margin. If their existing prices aren’t providing the kind of profit margins they anticipate, they can simply modify their pricing. 
  • Since there are no intermediaries involved, retailers have more control over their brand image. They have total control over the presentation and marketing of their goods as well as the level of customer care they offer. By doing this, they are able to develop a solid and consistent brand image that is unaffected by the flaws and errors of their retail partners.

However, due to the fact that they work with customers directly, retail businesses need to overcome a variety of obstacles. To begin with, it’s challenging to promote products to various customer types who can have different requirements and problems.

In addition, because customers anticipate quick shipping and low shipping costs, fulfillment can be an issue. Since they must fulfill orders to customers in various places, it can be difficult for retailers to strategically distribute and manage inventory so that orders can be delivered quickly and affordably to all of their consumers.

Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash

Wholesale benefits and challenges

Being a wholesale distributor has the following benefits in store:

  • Wholesalers can purchase products at a price that is far lower than retail enterprises since they have access to wholesale prices. They can also take advantage of lower fulfillment costs because of their ability to ship out goods in bulk. As a result, they spend less overall, which increases their chance of making big profits.
  • Wholesalers often establish long-term agreements to supply retail enterprises with products in large quantities. In addition to providing guaranteed long-term revenue, this also enables them to benefit from increased average order values. This makes it simpler for wholesalers to forecast their margin of profit, enabling them to prepare their spending plans and budget in advance. Since they ship out huge numbers of orders at once, they can maintain a high inventory turnover ratio.
  • Selling wholesale also offers the key advantage of a high likelihood of business growth due to the large average order value. The wholesale model allows for a lower price per individual product and bigger revenue, which supports scalability.

However, despite these advantages, it’s crucial to also consider the difficulties of running a wholesale business. 

Even though wholesale enterprises have access to wholesale prices, they must make huge upfront investments. When you need to purchase thousands of pieces in order to be eligible for wholesale prices, the expense of procurement can quickly add up.

Finally, the fulfillment process presents its own set of difficulties. To begin with, keeping big quantities of products demands a lot of warehouse space, as well as warehouse management. What’s more, shipping out large bulk orders could also come with transportation hazards and capacity constraints.

The Bottom Line

So, wholesale vs retail, which is the right path for your business?

The answer is it depends. You will need to analyze your options and choose the best course of action because each strategy has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

We hope that after reading this post, you feel a little better equipped to choose wisely for your company. Choosing the model that works best for you will help your business succeed.

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