Wholesaling or distributing is the sale of goods or merchandise to retailers; to industrial, commercial, institutional, or other professional business users; or to other wholesalers (wholesale businesses) and related subordinated services. In general, it is the sale of goods to anyone other than a standard consumer.
According to the United Nations Statistics Division, wholesale is the resale (sale without transformation) of new and used goods to retailers, to industrial, commercial, institutional or professional users, or to other wholesalers, or involves acting as an agent or broker in buying merchandise for, or selling merchandise to, such persons or companies. Wholesalers frequently physically assemble, sort and grade goods in large lots, break bulk, repack and redistribute in smaller lots. While wholesalers of most products usually operate from independent premises, wholesale marketing for foodstuffs can take place at specific wholesale markets where all traders are congregated.
Traditionally, wholesalers were closer to the markets they supplied than the source from which they got the products. However, with the advent of the internet and e-procurement there are an increasing number of wholesalers located nearer to the manufacturers in China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia.
In the banking industry "wholesale" usually refers to wholesale banking, providing tailored services to large customers, in contrast with retail banking, providing standardized services to large numbers of smaller customers.