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Discover How Many Wholesale Distributors in the US in 2024?

Picture of By <span style="font-weight:bold;color:#F63C47; font-style: italic;">Oscar Guerrero</span>

By Oscar Guerrero

Published December 8, 2023

In today’s fast-paced world, the wholesale distribution industry is a vital link between manufacturers and retailers. As a key player in the supply chain, wholesale distributors move goods across the globe, adapting to shifting market trends and consumer expectations. Are you curious about how many wholesale distributors in the US there are, or how they navigate the ever-changing demands of the market? In this blog post, we explore the role of wholesale distributors, their growth trends, and how to find reliable ones in the US, giving you a comprehensive understanding of this dynamic industry.

Key Takeaways

Understanding the Wholesale Distribution Industry

wholesale distributors checking on the warehouse

Acting as the bridge between manufacturers and retailers, wholesale distributors purchase products directly from the source and sell them to other businesses at a higher price. Their significant role in the supply chain allows goods to be readily available to retailers in large quantities and at favorable terms. With a massive market size of approximately $10 trillion (Statista), the wholesale distribution industry is an essential player in the global economy.

The wholesale distribution industry, also known as the wholesale sector, encompasses a wide range of businesses, from small, specialized suppliers to large, multinational corporations. Despite the diverse nature of the industry, all wholesale distributors share the common goal of providing retailers with the products they need to satisfy their customers. In order to achieve this goal, wholesale distribution work is essential to ensure a smooth and efficient supply chain.

Role of Wholesale Distributors

Functioning as intermediaries in the supply chain, wholesale distributors assist manufacturers and retailers in reaching mutually beneficial agreements and maintain a smooth flow of goods. They perform the following functions:

These businesses are closely linked to both manufacturers and retailers, and their services are essential for maintaining a steady flow of goods throughout the supply chain. Large companies such as Sysco, C&S Wholesale Grocers, and McLane Foodservice dominate the US wholesale distribution market, catering to specific industries and markets.

Types of Wholesale Distributors

There are various types of wholesale distributors, each with their unique roles and functions. Some examples include manufacturers, exclusive distributors, regional distributors, wholesalers, agents, and jobbers. Exclusive or specialized distributors focus on a specific product category, acting as the sole representatives of specific manufacturers. They provide market analysis and actively promote and distribute the manufacturers’ products.

Regional distributors, on the other hand, offer services such as warehousing, delivery, and customer service within a designated geographical area. Wholesalers purchase products from manufacturers to resell to retailers, while agents specialize in customer acquisition, pricing negotiation, and sales. Jobbers are similar to wholesalers but focus on a given product line or industry.

Number of Wholesale Distributors in the US

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The number of wholesale distributors in the US sits at approximately 408,000, a figure anticipated to rise given the increasing demand and market growth. Globalization, e-commerce, and technological advancements are among the factors steering the increase in the number of US wholesale distributors, contributing to the industry’s dynamism and growth.

The future expansion of the number of wholesale distributors in the US will depend on how well they can adapt to market trends, embrace technological innovations, and cater to the evolving needs of their customers. This growth will contribute to the overall strength of the wholesale distribution industry and its impact on the economy.

If you want to stay ahead in this dynamic landscape and ensure your wholesale distribution business thrives, it’s essential to actively engage in strategies that boost your sales. Start by taking a look at our free eBook, “Double Your Sales Orders in 5 Steps” Whether you’re a seasoned distributor or just starting out, this resource provides actionable insights on leveraging technology and meeting the evolving needs of your customers.

B2B Wholesale Distributors Book

Double Your Sales Orders in 5 Steps

This exclusive eBook is packed with real-world, data-driven concepts that can help maximize your store visits and double your sales. Get it for FREE – Today!

Growth Trends

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The wholesale distribution industry is experiencing growth trends driven by factors such as globalization, e-commerce, and technological advancements. In 2021 alone, the industry is estimated to experience an 18.4% growth rate, showcasing the potential for continued expansion and success in the coming years.

The growth trend of wholesale distributors in the US has been remarkable, with monthly growth rates consistently increasing from 2017 to 2022. Despite a slight decrease in the number of wholesale trade businesses in recent years, the industry remains poised for growth and disruption, driven by the aforementioned factors and an ever-evolving market landscape.

Regional Distribution

California, New York, and Miami are home to the highest number of wholesale companies in the USA. These regions present both unique opportunities and challenges for wholesale distributors due to the diverse markets they serve and varying degrees of competition.

Wholesale distributors in the US can be found not only in these regions but also across the globe, such as:

This reflects the global reach and impact of the general merchandise wholesale distribution industry.

Key Players in the US Wholesale Distribution Market

workers in warehouse used for wholesale distribution business

The US wholesale distribution market is dominated by key players such as:

These companies, known as merchant wholesalers, are the driving force behind the wholesale distribution plays in the US market.

These industry giants set the benchmark for success and business growth in the wholesale distribution market, their continued success and expansion likely to shape future growth trends and opportunities for other US wholesale distributors.

Top wholesale distributors by revenue include:

These companies represent the most profitable and successful businesses in the wholesale distribution market, with revenues reflecting their strong presence and impact on the industry.

Their success showcases the potential for growth and profitability in the wholesale distribution industry, serving as benchmarks for other businesses looking to thrive in this competitive landscape. By analyzing their business models and strategies, aspiring wholesale distributors can gain valuable insights into what it takes to succeed in this industry.

Top wholesale distributors by industry include Costco, Amazon.com, and Alibaba Group Holding Limited. These companies cater to various market segments, such as electrical distributors, food distributors, lumber suppliers, and grocery distributors, showcasing the diverse range of industries served by wholesale distributors.

Understanding the key players in each industry segment can help businesses identify potential partners and suppliers, as well as gain insights into the competitive landscape and market trends. By analyzing these top distributors, businesses can better position themselves to succeed in their respective markets and industries.

Challenges Faced by Wholesale Distributors

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Challenges facing wholesale distributors include competition from online marketplaces and manufacturers’ direct sales, both capable of affecting their market share and profitability. With the continuous growth of e-commerce and manufacturers’ desire for streamlined supply chains, traditional wholesale distribution models need to evolve and innovate to maintain competitiveness.

In addition to these challenges, wholesale distributors must contend with:

To overcome these obstacles and succeed in the industry, distributors must be agile, responsive, and willing to invest in technology and customer service.

If you want to delve deeper into addressing these challenges and avoiding common mistakes, explore our ebook, “Avoid the Top 5 Mistakes Wholesale Distributors Make.” Whether it’s adapting to customer expectations or optimizing your inventory management, this resource offers valuable insights for distributors looking to thrive in the industry.

Avoid the Top 5 Mistakes Wholesale Distributors Make

Avoid the Top 5 Mistakes Wholesale Distributors Make

Are you making one of the top 5 mistakes that plague wholesale distributors? Download our free eBook to find out. We’ve also included tips and guidance to help you save time and avoid costly mistakes.

Online marketplaces and direct sales from manufacturers pose a threat to traditional wholesale distribution models, forcing distributors to adapt and innovate to stay competitive. These alternative channels can offer lower prices and faster delivery times, attracting customers who may have previously relied on traditional wholesale distributors.

To counter this challenge, distributors are investing in technology, such as e-commerce platforms, to better compete with online marketplaces and manufacturers’ direct sales. They are also investing in customer service and marketing to differentiate themselves from their rivals and provide retailers a more personalized experience for their customers.

Wholesale distributors must adapt to changing consumer expectations, driven by factors such as e-commerce, sustainability, and personalized experiences. As consumers demand more environmentally friendly products and faster, more convenient shopping experiences, wholesale distributors must evolve to meet these needs and stay relevant in the market.

Some strategies for adapting to these trends include investing in technology, providing tailored services, and prioritizing sustainability. By addressing these shifting consumer preferences, wholesale distributors can maintain their competitive edge and continue to thrive in the ever-changing market landscape.

reliable wholesale distributors in USA

Various methods such as leveraging industry directories, attending trade shows, and participating in industry events can be effective in finding reliable wholesale distributors in the US. These strategies can assist businesses in pinpointing potential partners and suppliers, equipping them to make informed decisions based on factors like product costs, minimum order quantities, and other enterprise requirements.

By refining their search criteria and focusing on specific industries or regions, businesses can save time and energy in their search for reliable wholesale distributors. This targeted approach can help them identify the most suitable partners to meet their unique needs and requirements.

Industry directories offer comprehensive listings of wholesale distributors and suppliers. Some industry directories that can be utilized to locate reliable wholesale distributors include:

Paid directories often provide more reputable and reliable options.

By using industry directories, businesses can:

This can save time and effort, allowing businesses to focus on other aspects of their operations.

Networking at trade shows and industry events can help businesses connect with potential wholesale distributors, build relationships, and gain valuable insights into the industry. These events provide an opportunity for businesses to meet face-to-face with potential partners, discuss their needs and requirements, and establish a foundation for future collaboration.

In addition to making connections, attending trade shows and industry events can provide businesses with a better understanding of market trends, competitive landscape, and emerging opportunities. This knowledge can help them make more informed decisions about their choice of wholesale distributor and ultimately contribute to their success.

wholesale distributor in warehouse

Technological innovations and adjustments to consumer trends will shape the future of wholesale distribution in the US, with distributors utilizing technology to optimize operations and address changing customer demands. As the industry continues to evolve, businesses should prepare to face new competition, deliver tailored B2B services, and respond promptly to shifting market conditions.

Embracing advancements such as:

will be essential for wholesale distributors to stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on new opportunities in the market. By staying agile and responsive to change, wholesale distributors can continue to thrive in the ever-evolving landscape of the US wholesale distribution industry.

Emerging technologies, including cloud-based platforms, inventory and warehouse management systems, will play a significant role in boosting efficiency and competitiveness for wholesale distributors. Through investing in technology, businesses can automate processes, optimize operations, and cut costs, thereby improving profitability and market position.

The adoption of cutting-edge technologies will enable wholesale distributors to:

Adapting to consumer trends, such as sustainability, personalization, and e-commerce, will be essential for wholesale distributors to thrive in the ever-changing market landscape. As customers increasingly demand environmentally friendly products, faster delivery times, and personalized shopping experiences, distributors must evolve to meet these needs and stay relevant.

Some strategies for addressing these trends include investing in technology, providing tailored services, and prioritizing sustainability. By proactively adapting to the shifting consumer landscape and implementing effective sales strategies, wholesale distributors can maintain their competitive edge, grow their market share, and continue to thrive in the dynamic world of wholesale distribution.

In conclusion, the wholesale distribution industry is a vital component of the global economy, connecting manufacturers and retailers while meeting the ever-changing demands of consumers. With technological innovations, evolving consumer expectations, and the need to adapt to new competition, the future of wholesale distribution in the US promises to be both exciting and challenging. By embracing these changes and seizing new opportunities, wholesale distributors can continue to thrive and shape the industry for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

The US Wholesale Trade industry is estimated to be worth over $11.6 trillion and is increasing faster than the overall economy. It includes 410,000 establishments and generated a 7% growth rate in 2022.

Who is the largest wholesale distributor?

Sysco Corporation is the largest wholesale distributor in the United States, providing food products to restaurants, healthcare, and educational facilities.

What is the role of wholesale distributors in the supply chain?

Wholesale distributors are essential in the supply chain, acting as the link between manufacturers and retailers by procuring and selling products, while providing financing, promotion, and marketing services.

How many wholesale distributors are there in the US?

There are around 408,000 wholesale distributors operating in the United States.

What are the key growth trends in the wholesale distribution industry?

Globalization, e-commerce, and technological advancements are driving key growth trends in the wholesale distribution industry.

Navigating the Challenges of Wholesale Distribution? Discover OIS Solutions.

As wholesale distributors tackle the ever-evolving market—confronting competition, changing consumer expectations, and the demand for technological innovation—solutions that simplify processes and enhance efficiency become imperative.

Orders in Seconds (OIS) with +17 years of expertise empowering wholesale distributors, understands the challenges of the industry and offers mobile solutions that pave the way for growth.

With the OIS Pro App, experience stress-free order-taking where your Direct Store Delivery (DSD) and Pre-Sales reps can effortlessly place orders, accept payments, and capture customer signatures on the spot. Additionally, the OIS eCommerce App simplifies the B2B buying experience, allowing your customers to place orders effortlessly in just three steps, even offline. 

Ready to transform your wholesale distribution business? Explore how OIS solutions can streamline your processes and position you for success.

B2B Wholesale Distributors: 5 Step Guide to Doubling Your Sales Orders
B2B Wholesale Distributors 5 Step Guide to Doubling Your Sales Orders

Double Your Sales Orders in 5 Steps

This exclusive eBook is packed with real-world, data-driven concepts
that can help maximize your store visits and double your sales.
Get it for FREE – Today!

FREE In-Depth Guide for B2B Wholesale Distributors

Double Your Sales Orders in 5 Steps

This exclusive eBook is packed with real-world, data-driven concepts that can help maximize your store visits and double your sales.
Get it for FREE – Today!

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