An industrial distributor plays a key role in the marketing world. One could compare them to a wholesaler in the retail industry. But with industrial marketing, we’re not talking about selling wholesale goods to stores, which then market those products to the public. Rather, industrial distribution deals with providing goods or services that businesses then use in their own production of goods and services.

What Do They Do?

Industrial distributors, which are independent companies, act as intermediaries. They buy industrial products in bulk from a manufacturer and supply them to businesses that then use them for production or manufacturing. The distributor deals with a producer or business market instead of a consumer market.

The distributors work with company buyers or purchasing officers for the exchange. An industrial salesperson represents the distributor to companies and is responsible for generating sales to the buyers.

Who Is Their Market?

The companies that make up an industrial distributor's customer base are interested in what the distributor sells purely for use in their own business, as opposed to companies that buy products from distributors for resale. These companies, in a range of industries, are sometimes referred to as the producer market or the business market.

What Do They Sell?

Individual distributor companies offer a variety of product lines and services. Some choose a small niche product line, while others are broader in what they offer. Their goods or services could be classified as accessories, supplies, installation or something else.

Whether it is a raw material, software, maintenance service or some other offering, the defining attribute of an industrial product is how the good or service will be used. A product could be considered a consumer good in one case and an industrial good in another based simply on who buys it and why.

Competition can be fierce among industrial distributors, especially when their product lines are similar but narrow and specific. This has caused industrial distributing companies to improve their customer service and offer incentives such as price cuts and free shipping to encourage their target customers to buy from them. Industrial distributors have also been focusing on efficiency as business has declined in recent years.