Whether you’re a veteran flea vendor or new to the game, it’s always a good idea to brush up on wholesale terminology. Our industry is rapidly evolving and there are many types of wholesale sources to purchase products from. The Merchandiser has broken down common terminology and major types of wholesale suppliers to help clear the air.
As the name implies, these wholesalers take upfront payment only for their goods. These types of wholesalers are most often found at trade shows focusing on apparel and fashion accessories. They don’t accept any credit or invoicing. Cash and carry wholesalers also usually do not offer delivery services.
A closeout supplier has a limited and usually a large amount of a particular product they are looking to sell at a highly discounted price. Similar to a liquidator or off-price wholesaler, closeout merchandise is a result of overstock, out of season merchandise, customer returns, imperfect quality, etc..
This type of company purchases products directly from a manufacturer and then sells them to wholesale buyers. They have a warehouse and distribution center. This is likely the type of wholesaler you work with the most. They serve as the middleman between merchants and manufacturers.
Drop Ship Wholesaler
Drop ship sellers take your orders from customers and ship the product directly to your shopper. Though you are the middleman for this transaction between the wholesaler and the consumer, you never actually touch the product. This type of wholesaler is especially beneficial for vendors who sell online. Many distributors are also drop shippers.
A jobber is a wholesaler who operates on a small scale. They typically have a limited number of goods and usually offer off-price or closeout merchandise. Jobbers purchase from a manufacturer or another distributor and then resell the products to merchants.
Wholesale liquidators are suppliers who have large amounts of wholesale, closeout, surplus, or overstock merchandise. They typically have their own warehouse and often purchase directly from large retailers. Many liquidators sell their stock in larger volumes such as pallets or truckloads. Liquidators also commonly hold online or in-person auctions for their merchandise.
Manufacturer (Wholesale Manufacturer)
Manufacturers actually produce the products that they are selling to you. Manufacturers can be based overseas, however, many smaller companies are located within the United States. Buying directly from the manufacturer often gives you the lowest possible price because there is no middleman. One caveat, it is sometimes difficult to establish relationships with overseas manufacturers. Many overseas manufacturers also require very large orders.
Off-price wholesalers typically purchase from alternative product channels, such as distressed merchandisers, retailers who are going out of business, or companies with a surplus of overstock or out of season merchandise. Off-price wholesalers typically offer merchandise well below standard wholesale prices.
A specialty wholesaler often carries a narrow yet deep product line. They concentrate in a particular product category. These suppliers are a great option if you are looking for your products to be of a certain quality or want someone who can answer specific questions or make guided recommendations.