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Supplier vs. Distributor: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
A supplier provides resources or products to a business, while a distributor buys products from suppliers and sells them to retailers or end consumers.
Supplier vs. Distributor

Key Differences

A supplier is an entity that provides, or supplies, goods or services, often as a primary source. Suppliers are crucial for providing the raw materials or products that businesses need. Distributors, however, operate in the supply chain by purchasing goods from suppliers and selling them to retailers or directly to consumers.
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Dec 20, 2023
Suppliers typically focus on manufacturing or procuring goods and may sell to various distributors. Their role is to ensure the availability and quality of products or raw materials. Distributors, on the other hand, are intermediaries who focus on the logistics of getting these goods from suppliers to the market, often adding value through services like marketing and sales support.
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The relationship with customers is different for suppliers and distributors. Suppliers may have limited direct interaction with the end consumer, focusing instead on B2B (business-to-business) relationships. Distributors are more involved in the B2C (business-to-consumer) aspect, often building relationships with retailers and sometimes directly with consumers.
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In terms of scale, suppliers can range from small, specialized companies to large multinational corporations. They are integral in the production process. Distributors, although they can also vary in size, are key in the distribution chain, ensuring that products reach a wider market.
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Comparison Chart

Role in Supply Chain

Provides raw materials or products
Buys products from suppliers, sells to retailers
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Focus

Manufacturing/procuring goods
Logistics of distribution, marketing, and sales
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Relationship with Customers

Primarily B2B
Both B2B and B2C, closer to market
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Value Addition

Ensuring availability and quality
Adding services like marketing, sales support
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Interaction with End Consumer

Limited direct interaction
Often directly involved
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Supplier and Distributor Definitions

Supplier

An entity that sells goods to businesses.
The supplier agreed to deliver the products monthly.
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Distributor

An agent who supplies goods to stores and other businesses.
The distributor played a key role in getting the products to retailers.
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Dec 09, 2023

Supplier

A manufacturer or wholesaler.
The supplier was responsible for the initial stages of production.
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Distributor

A business that buys from manufacturers and sells to retailers.
The distributor expanded its network to cover more regions.
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Dec 09, 2023

Supplier

A provider of specific resources.
The local farm acts as a supplier of organic vegetables.
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Distributor

An entity handling the logistics of product distribution.
The company's main distributor handles both national and international shipments.
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Supplier

A party that provides goods or services.
The company relied on its supplier for quality raw materials.
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Distributor

A marketer of products to the public or retailers.
The distributor organized a marketing campaign to increase product awareness.
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Supplier

A source in the supply chain.
Our main supplier for electronics components is based overseas.
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Distributor

One that distributes, especially a device that applies electric current in proper sequence to the spark plugs of an engine.
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Supplier

To make available for use; provide
Does the hotel supply towels?.
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Distributor

One that markets or sells merchandise, especially a wholesaler.
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Supplier

To provide something necessary or desired to; furnish or equip
Supplied the players with uniforms.
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Distributor

One who or that which distributes.
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Supplier

To have as a necessary or desirable feature
A crime scene that supplied valuable evidence.
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Distributor

A device that distributes electric current, especially to the spark plugs in an internal combustion engine.
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Supplier

To fill sufficiently; satisfy
Supply a need.
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Distributor

A machine for distributing type.
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Supplier

To make up for (a deficiency, for example); compensate for.
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Distributor

An appliance, such as a roller, in a printing press, for distributing ink.
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Supplier

The act of supplying
Funds for the supply of the expedition.
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Distributor

One that distributes; a distributer;
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Supplier

An amount available or sufficient for a given use; stock
Our supply of milk is low.
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Distributor

Someone who markets merchandise
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Supplier

Often supplies Materials or provisions stored and dispensed when needed.
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Distributor

A person with authority to allot or deal out or apportion
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Supplier

(Economics) The amount of a commodity available for meeting a demand or for purchase at a given price.
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Distributor

A company that markets merchandise;
His company is a large distributor of software products
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Supplier

One who supplies; a provider.
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Distributor

Electrical device that distributes voltage to the spark plugs of a gasoline engine in the order of the firing sequence
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Supplier

(soccer) Someone who assists (sets up) a goal.
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Distributor

An intermediary in the supply chain.
Our distributor ensures timely delivery of goods to the market.
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Supplier

One who supplies.
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Supplier

Someone whose business is to supply a particular service or commodity
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

Can a supplier sell directly to consumers?

While possible, suppliers typically sell to businesses or distributors, not directly to consumers.
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Do distributors manufacture products?

No, distributors do not manufacture; they buy from manufacturers (suppliers) and sell to other businesses.
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What is a supplier in business?

A supplier is an entity that provides goods or services to another business.
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How does a distributor function?

A distributor buys products from suppliers and sells them to retailers or directly to consumers.
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What is the main role of a supplier?

The main role of a supplier is to provide the necessary goods or services for other businesses.
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How do distributors add value to products?

Distributors add value through services like storage, transportation, marketing, and sales support.
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Is a distributor considered a middleman?

Yes, a distributor acts as a middleman between suppliers and the market.
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Can a business be both a supplier and a distributor?

Yes, some businesses function as both suppliers and distributors.
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Do distributors interact with end consumers?

In some cases, especially in B2C, distributors interact directly with end consumers.
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What factors are important in choosing a supplier?

Key factors include product quality, reliability, cost, and delivery times.
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What is the significance of a local supplier?

Local suppliers are important for businesses looking to reduce transportation costs and support local economies.
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Can distributors influence product pricing?

Yes, distributors can affect pricing, especially in how they mark up products for resale.
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What type of relationship do suppliers have with businesses?

Suppliers have a B2B relationship, supplying goods to other businesses.
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What's a wholesale supplier?

A wholesale supplier sells large quantities of goods, typically to distributors or retailers.
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How do suppliers impact the quality of final products?

Suppliers influence the quality as they provide the raw materials or components for the final products.
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How does technology impact suppliers and distributors?

Technology aids both in streamlining operations, improving communication, and managing inventory and logistics.
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What is a direct supplier?

A direct supplier provides goods or services directly to the business using them.
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Are distributors responsible for product promotion?

Yes, distributors often handle product promotion and marketing.
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How do distributors influence the supply chain?

Distributors play a key role in the supply chain by ensuring efficient product flow from suppliers to the market.
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Do distributors need to have a wide network?

A wide network is beneficial for distributors to ensure broader market reach and efficient distribution.
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About Author
Shumaila Saeed
Written by
Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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