Wholesale Products and the Middleman-Chain

There has been an explosion in the number of wholesale companies over the past 5 years. A great majority of this growth can be attributed to the growth of the Internet. The Internet offers the small-time operator a place to market their products without having to spend a fortune in a physical store front. The number of people that can now sell products is no longer restricted to the store owners, so we now have a huge population of Internet entrepreneurs looking for products to sell. This big demand created a very big supply of so-called companies claiming to be wholesale companies specializing in selling wholesale products to Internet entrepreneurs.

Are all of these new wholesale companies really selling wholesale products? The short answer is absolutely not! Not even close... but let's go over the longer answer so you can get an idea of what types of operations the majority of these so-called wholesale companies operate.

If I was forced to make my best guess of the percentage of true wholesale companies behind all the Internet and Opportunity magazine advertisements, I'd say that maybe, just maybe, 0.5% of those companies is an actual lagitimate wholesale company. Obviously that means I think that 99.5% are not true wholesale compaines.

If a majority of the wholesale companies being advertised are not true wholesale companies, then what are they and where are they getting their products? They are likely just middleman operating within a chain of middleman.

A Middleman-chain occurs when a business purchases its resale products from one wholesale company, who in turn purchases the products from another wholesale company, which may also purchase the products from yet another wholesale company, and so on. Note: I am using the term 'wholesale' very loosely here.

For example, let us say you have a resale business and you are buying products from a wholesaler, who we will call Wholesaler-A, at 20% discount. It is likely that Wholesaler-A is actually purchasing the same products from another wholesaler; let us call them Wholesaler-B. Wholesaler-B may get the products for a 40% discount and then sell them to Wholesaler-A at the 30% discount level, thus making 10% profit. There may even be another level, Wholesaler-C, which gets the products for a 50% discount and then sells them to Wholesale-B at 40% discount, making another 10% profit. See a graphical representation of this process at

As you can see from the diagram in the above link, there can be multiple layers of wholesalers creating a chain of middlemen that you simply cannot afford.

As a result of middleman-chaining, each layer adds on its profit and you are left unable to compete because you are not buying the products at a low enough price to stay in business. If you do, by chance, get orders, each company in the chain is a point of failure in your transaction.

For example, let us assume you have a source for a product which is in high demand and you are paying what you believe to be a true wholesale price, say 20% discount. You then launch an advertising campaign that pulls in a large number of orders only to find that one of your back-end suppliers somewhere up the chain cannot handle the volume. Your customers obviously want their money back (including shipping & handling) and you find that you have lost a lot of money in advertising and created a bunch of angry customers that will likely never buy from you again!

One question you may be asking is why doesn't every wholesaler just buy from the manufacture and get the deepest discount? The answer is simple - not all wholesalers (or companies claiming to be wholesalers) can afford to purchase the minimum bulk-order requirements that a manufacture requires. Secondly, many manufactures only do business with companies that are established. So now you are left to do business with a level-1 wholesaler (Wholesaler-C in above diagram), which can be very profitable if the products have demand. However, a level-1 wholesaler may also require a bulk purchase that is outside the budget of many small home business operators, and/or they simply may not want to do business with a small home business. Eventually you may find that a higher-level wholesaler (level-2, level-3, or higher) is all that is available to the home business operator, and you simply can not make any significant money at this level. Unfortunately, just about every wholesaler you see advertising in the opportunity magazines or Internet is a level-2 or higher wholesaler.

Now, armed with the above knowledge of middleman-chaining, make sure you take a closer look at all those wholesale product advertisements before taking out your wallet!


Michael Ellis

Michael Ellis is an Internet technology expert that specializes in marketing products and services online. Be sure to visit Michael's website [] for more FREE Internet Marketing articles, tips and discussion forums [].

Want a quality website critique? Simply post a request in Michael's forum at [] to get a valuable review of your website!

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