There are two major types of wholesalers: (1) merchant wholesalers that sell goods on their own account; and (2) wholesale agents and brokers that arrange sales and purchases for others generally for a commission or fee.
- Merchant wholesalers usually maintain their own warehouse where they receive and handle goods for reselling to their customers. Goods are generally sold without transformation, but may include integral functions, such as sorting, packaging, labeling, and other marketing services. Merchant wholesalers could be also part of manufacturers who actually make the goods, they could be their sales office.
- Wholesale agents and brokers arrange to buy and sell goods owned by others and they usually work for a commission. In addition to agents and brokers, this type also includes such wholesalers as business-to-business electronic markets, agents and brokers, commission merchants, import/export agents and brokers, auction companies, etc. These entities operate from offices and generally do not own or handle the goods they sell from a warehouse.
Some wholesalers may be supplying goods of only one or just a few manufacturers, whereas other wholesalers may offer a wide range of products from a large number of manufacturers. Also, some wholesalers may have one or just a few large customers, doe example a retail chain, that the wholesaler supplies buying from a range of manufacturers and vendors.