Difference between Supplier and Distributor

Key difference:  The supplier supplies the goods or services, while a distributor resells the product directly to the customer or end-user.

A supplier is one who supplies the products, commodity or service to the consumer. In business terms, it is ‘a party that supplies goods or services’, and which can be distinguished from a contractor or subcontractor, who commonly adds specialized input to the deliverables. They can also be referred to as the manufacturers, processors, packagers, wholesalers, dealers, and merchants.

They are a vital part of the supply-chain mechanism in any business association. They can be any individuals or an organization that provides an organization with the input resources that it needs to produce goods and services. They are basically defined as the providers of any such commodity, which they are supposed to supply to the respective organization or firm.

A distributor is the one who distributes the goods directly to the stores or other businesses that sell to consumers. These are intermediates between the producers and consumers. In business terms, it is ‘an entity that buys the non-competing products or product lines, warehouses them, and then resells them to the retailers or directly to the end users or customers’.

The distribution of any product takes place through channels, which are interdependent organizations. These channels are designed by the firms with a proper path-organization. They provide strong manpower and cash support to the supplier or manufacturer's promotional efforts. They also provide a range of services such as product information, estimates, technical support, after-sales services, and credit to their customers. They have their position in the marketing strategies, because they act as a link between the market and the consumers.

Comparison between Supplier and Distributor:




Short description

Individuals, companies or other organizations which provide goods or services to a recognizable customer or consumer.

They are an intermediary between producers and retailers, with large warehousing capacity and a sales and delivery force servicing stores in their area or region.

Who are they

They may be a person or company which supplies products or services to another company.

They are generally, the middlemen or a company which sells mainly to retailers and institutions, rather than to consumers.


They sometimes also supply the products directly to the end user or the customer.

They are intermediates between the supplier and the consumer.

Who resells

They do not resell the products.

They resell the products.


They buy the goods from the distributor.

They distribute the goods.

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