Challenges in the Wholesale Supply Chain

For the vast majority of retail enterprises, both online and off, success requires effective supply chain management. Since manufacturers very rarely sell their goods directly to consumers, there are several stages of the process that have to be traversed before products reach customers. Nearly always, the intermediary between manufacturers and customers will be a wholesaler, selling goods, in bulk, to later be sold individually by retailers.

In this entire process, there are several inherent challenges, normally revolving around the effective (and cost-effective) management of bulk produce from multiple sources. Some of these products will constitute a retailer’s main products, which will typically sell faster and require replenishment more often, whereas others might be additional products purchased wholesale and sold by a retailer in order to open new revenue streams. No two products will be the same and therefore a typical retailer will set up multiple repeat orders for a range of products from a range of wholesalers – and things can get messy if the entire process is not strictly controlled. This is known as supply chain management.

What Are the Supply Chain Challenges?

The first thing to note about the challenges inherent in managing any product’s individual supply chain is that, unfortunately, much of it is already out of the retailer’s hands. For example, a great deal of responsibility falls to the wholesaler to be able to fulfill orders and ship enough wholesale batches of products in order to meet demand. The more popular the wholesale products the bigger a challenge this becomes – for the wholesaler.

Of course, the retailer is not entirely powerless here because they can choose the wholesaler! Some products are very often sold wholesale and therefore there are multiple wholesalers selling them. It is very much the retailer’s job to ensure a steady supply of the products they need. Take the example of bulk sunglasses. These can be, and are, sold in very many retail settings, as they make for great impulse buy products to be sold alongside almost anything else. With so many potential retail settings where they could be sold, there are very many wholesalers offering them, and so any given retailer has a lot of choices.

How to Pick is a Good Wholesaler with Supply Chain Issues in Mind

Of course, it isn’t just an ability to meet the supply chain challenges that make for a good wholesaler. There are also things like the quality of the product itself. Olympic Eyewear, a wholesaler of the aforementioned wholesale sunglasses, advises that any retailer should get a wholesaler thoroughly to ensure a steady and efficient supply. Here are some more supply chain challenges that they may face (and which they should be able to effectively handle):

Supply Chain Visibility

A good wholesaler should be able to offer accurate and relevant information about the supply chain to the retailer. Real-time stock updates and forecasting of possible disruptions are essential for a retailer.


To return again to the sunglasses, a batch of, say, five hundred pairs of the exact same kind is going to sell a lot slower than an assorted batch that offers the choice to customers. Just because products come in bulk does not mean there cannot be some variety.

Inventory Stocking

A wholesaler should have a large inventory on hand in order to quickly fulfill orders. Sourcing products from the manufacturer upon the placement of an order is, in most cases, a sub-optimal wholesaling strategy.

For sure, there are some things that need to be left up to the wholesaler, but that certainly doesn’t alleviate retailers of all responsibility in this area.