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Manufacturer vs. Retailer: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on November 20, 2023
A Manufacturer produces goods; a Retailer sells them directly to consumers.

Key Differences

A Manufacturer is an entity that creates, assembles, or produces goods on a large scale. These goods are often intended for distribution to multiple outlets or businesses. In contrast, a Retailer is a business or individual that sells goods directly to the end consumer, typically in smaller quantities.
The primary role of the Manufacturer is to source raw materials, design products, and oversee their production, ensuring quality and consistency. The Retailer, on the other hand, focuses on presenting and selling these products to the public, often emphasizing customer service, product variety, and pricing strategies.
Manufacturers operate in the realm of B2B (business-to-business), dealing with suppliers for raw materials and selling their finished products to wholesalers or retailers. Retailers, conversely, exist in the B2C (business-to-consumer) space, where their main interactions are with individual customers.
From a supply chain perspective, the Manufacturer sits at the beginning, turning raw materials into finished products. The Retailer is found at the end, being the final step before the product reaches the hands of the consumer.
Often, Manufacturers will not have direct interaction with individual consumers, focusing instead on creating products in bulk. Retailers, by nature, have a direct relationship with their customers, influencing their shopping experience and gathering feedback about products.

Comparison Chart


Produces or assembles goods.
Sells goods directly to consumers.

Supply Chain Position

Beginning, produces goods.
End, sells goods to the public.

Volume of Goods

Produces in bulk.
Sells in individual or smaller quantities.

Business Type

B2B (business-to-business).
B2C (business-to-consumer).

Consumer Interaction

Limited, mainly through product.
Direct, through sales and services.

Manufacturer and Retailer Definitions


An entity that produces goods from raw materials.
The Manufacturer converted raw steel into car parts.


A business selling goods directly to consumers.
The Retailer offered a discount during the holiday season.


A business that assembles products for market distribution.
The toy Manufacturer ensured all products met safety standards.


A company emphasizing customer service and product presentation.
The Retailer redesigned its store layout to enhance the shopping experience.


An entity that oversees the production of goods.
The Manufacturer increased its output to meet rising demand.


An entity operating stores or online platforms for end consumers.
The online Retailer experienced a surge in orders.


A company that designs and creates new products.
The electronics Manufacturer released a new line of headphones.


A point of purchase for individual buyers.
The local Retailer sponsored community events.


A source of origin for products.
The drug Manufacturer issued a recall on its latest medication.


An outlet providing a variety of products from different manufacturers.
The Retailer carried products from international manufacturers.


A person, an enterprise, or an entity that manufactures something.


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


A person or company that manufactures.


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


One who manufactures.


In retail quantities.


A business engaged in manufacturing some product


At a retail price.


Someone who manufactures something


To sell in small quantities directly to consumers.


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


To sell at retail.


A retail sales company or salesman.


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.


A merchant who sells goods at retail


Can a Manufacturer also be a Retailer?

Yes, some Manufacturers also sell directly to consumers, acting as Retailers.

Do Retailers produce any of their goods?

While primarily sellers, some Retailers might produce exclusive or private-label goods.

How do Manufacturers ensure product quality?

Manufacturers typically have quality control processes and standards in place.

Can a Manufacturer sell products at varying prices to different Retailers?

Yes, prices can vary based on volume, long-term relationships, and negotiation.

What's a common challenge for Retailers?

Retailers often grapple with inventory management, ensuring the right amount of stock without overordering.

Why might a Manufacturer not sell directly to consumers?

Distribution, marketing to end consumers, and managing individual sales can be complex and outside a Manufacturer's expertise.

How do Retailers decide which products to carry?

Retailers consider consumer demand, profitability, market trends, and relationships with Manufacturers.

Can a Retailer influence a Manufacturer's production?

Potentially. Large Retailers with significant orders might influence product design or features.

Who typically sets the retail price of a product?

The Retailer usually sets the retail price, considering costs and desired profit margins.

Can a product be sold by multiple Retailers?

Yes, many products are sold by various Retailers, both in physical stores and online.

How do Retailers handle defective products?

Retailers typically return them to Manufacturers or handle them based on agreements in place.

How do Manufacturers distribute products to multiple Retailers?

Manufacturers often use distributors or wholesalers to reach multiple Retailers efficiently.

How do Retailers manage products from various Manufacturers?

Retailers use inventory management systems to track and order products.

Can a Retailer set a product's price below the Manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP)?

Yes, but Manufacturers might have policies or agreements about pricing limits.

Do Manufacturers ever sell rejected or flawed products?

Some do, but as "seconds" or "outlets" at reduced prices, noting the flaws.

Why would a Manufacturer offer exclusives to a Retailer?

For promotional reasons, increased sales, or to strengthen the business relationship.

Are all Retailers independent, or can they be part of a chain?

Retailers can be independent or part of larger chains or franchises.

Do Retailers always have physical stores?

No, some Retailers operate solely online or through other non-traditional formats.

How do Manufacturers introduce new products to Retailers?

Often through trade shows, sales representatives, or direct marketing.

Why do Retailers run sales or discounts?

To increase sales volume, clear out inventory, or attract new customers.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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