Chances are that when the average consumer needs or wants something, they visit a retail store, either online or off, and purchase what it is they desire without ever thinking about what retail geeks call the "supply chain." The consumer only cares that the store has what they need at the price they're willing to pay.
The retailer, however, must have an in-depth understanding of how the product being offered and sold comes to be available in her store in the first place. In a typical supply chain, there are four points of contact:
Sometimes, a retailer is able to go directly to the manufacturer and cut out the wholesale distributor. The only point in the chain at which a single item is purchased is at the last point of contact, which resides with the consumer. The distributor and retailer both tend to buy in bulk…unless of course the distributor offers drop shipping.
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