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Retailer vs. Dealer — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on October 16, 2023
A "Retailer" sells goods to the public in smaller quantities, while a "Dealer" may sell services or goods in bulk, often specializing in a specific product or category.
Retailer vs. Dealer — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Retailer and Dealer


Key Differences

A "Retailer" is a business or person that sells goods directly to the end consumer, meaning the products they sell are in small quantities suitable for individual use. In contrast, a "Dealer" typically engages in the business of selling or trading goods or services, often in larger quantities or bulk, and can sometimes operate on a wholesale level, not necessarily targeting the end consumer.
"Retailers" are the last link in the supply chain, connecting manufacturers to consumers; they operate in various forms like stores, malls, and e-commerce websites. On the other hand, "Dealers" are often associated with a certain type of product or brand, sometimes having exclusive rights to sell a particular product in a specific region, which is common in industries like automobiles.
Pricing strategies of a "Retailer" are often marked by a higher per-unit price because they sell individual units and need to incorporate the costs of operating a consumer-friendly shopping environment. In contrast, a "Dealer" might offer more competitive pricing, particularly if they're selling in bulk or to other businesses, as they may purchase directly from manufacturers or distributors.
The relationship with manufacturers differs significantly between the two; "Retailers" may not have an exclusive relationship with manufacturers and often stock competing products. In contrast, "Dealers" frequently have specific, sometimes contractual, relationships with manufacturers or providers, particularly seen in sectors like the automotive industry.
Customer service experiences also vary greatly; "Retailers" provide broad customer service for various products, focusing on the end consumer's retail experience. Conversely, "Dealers" might offer more specialized service, having detailed knowledge of the products they deal in, which is especially valuable in industries requiring technical expertise, like car dealerships or industrial equipment.

Comparison Chart

Target Audience

General public
Often businesses or specialized sectors

Quantity of Goods

Smaller quantities
Bulk or larger quantities

Relationship with Manufacturers

Non-exclusive, varied stock
Often exclusive or contractual


Higher per-unit prices
Competitive, often lower due to volume


Broad, less specialized
Specific to products/industry

Compare with Definitions


A business that sells smaller quantities of products.
As a book retailer, they offer a wide variety of genres.


A merchant in a specific type of commodity.
As a car dealer, he's well-versed in different automotive brands.


An outlet where consumers can purchase various goods.
The retailer prides itself on excellent customer service.


A person or business that buys and sells goods.
The dealer acquired an exclusive contract with the manufacturer.


A store or person offering goods intended for individual buyers.
Online retailers have expanded rapidly with the growth of e-commerce.


An entity engaged in trading or distribution of products, often in bulk.
The dealer offered a significant discount for a larger order.


An entity that sells goods directly to consumers.
The retailer recently opened a new store in the mall.


A person authorized to trade on behalf of a client.
The stock dealer was keenly aware of market fluctuations.


The final link in the distribution chain.
The retailer's role is crucial for manufacturers reaching their end customers.


A person who buys and sells goods
A dealer in foreign stamps


The sale of goods or commodities in small quantities directly to consumers.


The player who distributes the cards at the start of a game.


Of, relating to, or engaged in the sale of goods or commodities at retail.


One that is engaged in buying and selling
A used-car dealer.
A drug dealer.


In retail quantities.


The person who distributes the cards in a game of cards.


At a retail price.


In a game of cards, especially poker, the position from which cards are dealt clockwise around the table, usually marked by the button.


To sell in small quantities directly to consumers.


A croupier.


(also rĭ-tāl) To tell or repeat (gossip or stories, for example) to others.


One who deals in goods, especially automobiles; a middleman.
That used car dealer gave me a great deal on my 1962 rusted-out Volkswagen bug!


To sell at retail.


A drug dealer, one who peddles illicit drugs.


A retail sales company or salesman.


A particular type of stock broker or trader.


One who retails anything; as, a retailer of merchandise; a retailer of gossip; - used also of businesses, including large corporations; as, Sears, Roebuck is one the the country's largest retailers.


The person who deals the cards in a card game.


A merchant who sells goods at retail


One who deals or metes out anything.


One who deals; one who has to do, or has concern, with others; esp., a trader, a trafficker, a shopkeeper, a broker, or a merchant; as, a dealer in dry goods; a dealer in stocks; a retail dealer.


One who distributes cards to the players.


Someone who purchases and maintains an inventory of goods to be sold


A firm engaged in trading


A seller of illicit goods;
A dealer in stolen goods


The major party to a financial transaction at a stock exchange; buys and sells for his own account


The person who distributes the playing cards in a card game


A person who acts as a source of supply for goods or services.
The art dealer connects talented artists with enthusiasts.

Common Curiosities

Can a "Dealer" sell to a regular consumer?

Yes, "Dealers" can sell to anyone, but they often focus on bulk or specialized sales.

Do "Retailers" have exclusive contracts with manufacturers?

Typically, no. "Retailers" usually stock various brands without exclusivity.

What’s a key difference between a "Dealer" and a "Distributor"?

A "Dealer" often sells to the public or businesses, while a "Distributor" might only supply retailers or other businesses.

Can you give an example of a "Retailer"?

Supermarkets, bookstores, and e-commerce platforms are all types of "Retailers."

Do "Retailers" deal in used goods?

Some do, especially those in sectors like clothing and electronics.

Do "Dealers" need special licenses?

It depends on their industry and local regulations.

Who has a larger inventory, a "Retailer" or a "Dealer"?

A "Dealer" might have a larger quantity but less variety, whereas a "Retailer" often has a wide variety of stock but in smaller quantities.

Do "Retailers" only operate brick-and-mortar stores?

No, "Retailers" can operate both physical stores and online platforms.

Is buying from a "Retailer" more expensive than from a "Dealer"?

Often, yes, because "Retailers" usually have higher operational costs and sell in smaller quantities.

Can a "Dealer" operate without a physical storefront?

Yes, many "Dealers" operate through online platforms or direct sales.

How do "Retailers" and "Dealers" affect consumer choice?

"Retailers" offer wide variety, while "Dealers" provide depth in a specific product, influencing availability and pricing.

Are all store owners "Retailers"?

Generally, yes, if they sell goods directly to consumers.

Are "Dealers" more knowledgeable about their products than "Retailers"?

Generally, yes. "Dealers" often specialize and have detailed product knowledge.

Can a "Retailer" be a "Dealer"?

It's possible if they sell both to end consumers and in bulk or specialize in a specific product.

What industries commonly use the term "Dealer"?

Automotive, art, and equipment industries frequently use "Dealer."

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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