Not just a question of supply and demand
Retailers and wholesalers play a key role in the interplay between producers, the consumer goods industry and customers. As well as pooling the wide variety of goods available, they ensure that stores always have sufficient quantities of the right products in stock. Most customers take it for granted that their local store will have an attractive range of products offering good value for money, but in reality this means that resellers have to actively shape incredibly complex processes.
Let’s start by looking at a day in the life of a restaurant owner somewhere in Germany in the 1950s. He would buy meat and fish from the market in the morning, source potatoes and vegetables from a local farmer and purchase bread from a commercial bakery. Additional suppliers would provide drinks, decorations, workwear and equipment. Only in the mid-1960s did it become possible for business owners to fill their own trolleys with everything they needed in one place, pay for it and take their shopping away with them on the spot. METRO Cash & Carry opened its first wholesale store in Germany on 27 October 1964, thereby establishing the principle of self-service wholesale. Since then, independent business owners have been able to benefit from the many advantages this concept offers, such as high product availability, top quality, low prices and extensive services.
This already outlines some of the key advantages and functions of the retail and wholesale industry. The sector plays a variety of different roles within the value chain, i.e. the products’ journey to the customer. This is true of wholesalers like METRO Cash & Carry and traditional retailers alike. Both serve as links between producers or the consumer goods industry on the one hand and customers on the other. In other words, they pool both supply and demand. Industry and customers benefit from this system in equal measure. For instance, manufacturers can bridge the time delay between production and customer-side demand by temporarily – and cheaply – storing their products with the reseller. Meanwhile, business owners and consumers no longer have to visit a different sales outlet for each product, saving them time.