Supplier vs Distributor vs Merchandiser

by Jim Smith on June 28, 2007 · 4 comments

A supplier is a person or company which supplies products or services to another company, also called vendor.

A distributor or middleman is a person or company which sells mainly to retailers and institutions, rather than to consumers.

A merchandiser is a person or company that is in the process of increasing the market share of a product in retail outlets using display, stocking, and sales promotion techniques.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Alan J. Zell January 17, 2008 at 4:26 pm

I disagree with the definiton of “merchandiser” as described. Merchandising, if it is to be done right, is the marriage of the task/professions of buying and selling. What goes between these two ends are “marketing” (deciding to whom and how it is to be presented) and “presenting” (developing the right presentation in the right manner/format) to the right customer. Without the first task/profession done right, the rest will not overcome the error. Then, if the buying is good, the next step(s) need to be right, each succeeding step depends on how well the previous step(s) were done.

It matters not if the idea, information, product or service is from the original supplier, from a middleman/distributor, or by whomever will be doing the buying. When done right, that is merchandising and it is done not by one person because merchandising is a combination of skills and talent.

Distributors, btw, come in two formats. One, they stock or buy products from the supplier or two, they act as a representative or agent of the supplier and orders generated are filled by the supplier.

The category that was not covered is the converter — a firm that buys others’ products from a supplier or distributor, converts them to new products and sells them direct or through a distributor.

Merchandising takes place before the transfer of information or the product from one to the next stage.


Katherin Jeschke July 14, 2010 at 1:36 am

Assessing the cash flow is one more important element within the organization strategy format, so as to sustain a normal money flow to meet the essential capital needs. Probability of monetary crisis and also the ways of crisis management must be mentioned within the structure. The business technique must consist from the marketing plans and strategy leading towards the expansion from the organization.


GerryVs Web August 8, 2010 at 7:50 pm

You can never learn enough, and this post just taught me something new. Thanks for the info.


arnold May 9, 2014 at 3:25 am

I am still not sure of the difference between a supplier and a merchandiser


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