The practice of providing products and materials that allow manufacturers and stores to operate. Wholesalers are responsible for finding new products and manufacturers, locating retail markets where these items appeal to the consumer base, setting up new accounts with retailers, expanding inventory options for retail store owners, helping store owners choose the right products for their customers, and ensuring that all items ordered from the wholesale location arrive in a timely fashion.
Most wholesalers work for large distributorships or wholesale chains. Larger manufacturers may maintain their own wholesale department to work with businesses or government agencies. Small companies typically turn to wholesale distributorships to move their goods into stores. Wholesalers are typically divided into inside and outside roles. Inside wholesalers pursue retail leads over the phone and focus on tracking inventory and sales. Outside wholesalers typically visit manufacturing sites or retail shops and work to ensure that the distributorship's clients receive the best service possible.
Wholesalers typically work a standard 40-hour work week with expected overtime during busy holiday seasons. Outside wholesalers can expect large amounts of travel. Educational requirements may vary by the types of services provided. Wholesalers working in highly specialized markets, such as medical supplies or potentially hazardous goods, may require specialized training and certification even if they never work with the merchandise directly. Distributors working with pharmaceutical or chemical supplies may require all wholesale agents to possess degrees in a related field.
Wholesale distributors typically offer internships or extended training periods for new entrants to the field. This may include time spent alternately between warehouse and business-to-business or government sales roles. Many new wholesalers will work for a year or more in a training role before receiving an inside or outside wholesaler position.