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Vendors: What They Are, Types

What are Vendors?

Vendors are entities within the supply chain that offer goods and services to businesses or consumers. The term “vendor” often refers to the entity receiving payment for the provided goods rather than the actual manufacturer. However, a vendor can fulfil dual roles as both a supplier (or seller) of goods and as a manufacturer. 

An example of a vendor is a food truck operator ensuring adequate supplies for their menu items, driving to a designated area, and vending food to customers.

Important details:

  • Vendors refer to individuals or entities engaged in the exchange of goods or services.
  • A vendor acquires products and services for subsequent resale to other entities, be it companies or individuals.
  • Major retailers, such as Target, depend on a diverse array of vendors to furnish their product inventory. These vendors provide goods purchased at wholesale rates, which the retailer then sells at retail prices.
  • Manufacturers involved in the transformation of raw materials into finished goods serve as vendors for both retailers and wholesalers.

Supply Chain Relationships

Major retail chains like Target and Walmart often maintain a roster of vendors who provide goods at wholesale rates, which are then retailed to consumers. Vendors serving these large stores must manage substantial operations to fulfil their contractual obligations.

Business-to-Business (B2B)

Many vendors operate as B2B entities, supplying components to other businesses for product assembly. For instance, if a small business manufactures widgets from various components, it must source these parts from vendors, either consolidating them from a single supplier or procuring them from multiple sources.

Entrepreneurs can become vendors themselves by selling products on online retail platforms.


Vendors also offer services to entities of varying sizes and scopes. For instance, a large corporation’s human resources department might engage outside vendors to organise events like holiday parties. These vendors include event space providers, decorators, and catering companies, all of whom become vendors upon contracting their services to the hosting company.

Types of Vendors

There are different types of vendors, but they can be classified into one or two of four groups:


  • Manufacturer. Manufacturers turn raw materials into finished goods and distribute them to wholesalers and retailers.
  • Retailer. Retailers procure goods from other vendors and market them directly to consumers. For instance, Target operates as a vendor selling home appliances and other household items.
  • Wholesaler. Wholesalers often purchase merchandise in large quantities and supply them to retailers. Some wholesalers may also directly serve consumers, known as wholesaler-retailers.
  • Service Provider. Service providers deliver services to both businesses and consumers.

How Vendors Offer Cost Advantages

Vendors are present throughout the supply chain, encompassing all individuals, organisations, resources, activities, and technologies involved in the production and sale of a product or service. This chain commences with the sourcing and transportation of raw materials and culminates in the product’s sale and ultimate delivery.

Manufacturers and retailers try to streamline the supply chain, recognising that the final product’s cost escalates with each step in the chain. The supply chain often comprises three main entities: the manufacturer, the seller, and the retailer, also known as the reseller. Vendors may offer cost advantages compared to traditional supply chains by bypassing certain links in the chain.


What is an example of a vendor?

Amazon, known for its online retailing, also functions as a web service provider. Offering services like web hosting and database storage, it caters to businesses that find purchasing and maintaining such services individually too costly.

How do vendors differ from suppliers?

Suppliers often constitute the initial link in the supply chain, where products and services originate. In contrast, vendors acquire products and services from suppliers and then redistribute them to clients.


Vendors are individuals or organisations that buy products and services to sell them to both business clients and consumers. They are a common feature across various business models because, in certain instances, it is more cost-effective to purchase from a vendor than directly from a supplier. Vendors come in all sizes, ranging from small-scale operations like a solo hotdog stand to larger entities supplying goods to warehouse retailers.

DISCLAIMER: This article is for informational purposes only and the opinion of the author. BARTERCARD does not have any business affiliations with any company or organisation mentioned.


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