Supply Chain Management

How to Become a Distributor in 9 Simple Steps [Checklist]

In any emerging market, as demand for a product increases, so does the need for distributors. From craft beer and organic produce to athleisure clothing - on the other side of every new trend is a team of distributors hard at work to find quality manufacturers and help them bring their product to retail. 

What's more, product distribution can be lucrative. Wholesale distributor sales earn the United States $3.2 trillion annually, representing 7% of private industry GDP, reported Entrepreneur. The most successful distributors have experience spotting trends in their industry, as well as with building relationships with manufacturers and retailers. If you're interested in becoming a distributor, use the checklist below to get started. 

One of the first steps to making it as a distributor is to start building relationships with retailers you'd like to work with. To give you a head start, we've done the hard part for you. For a list of more than 1000 natural food retailers' contact information and store locations, download our free list.



  • What is your strategy? - Some of the first things you should think about when becoming a distributor is what kind of distributor you would like to be and choosing the distribution channel you want to work within. This means figuring out how closely you want to work with the end user and how to accomplish the delivery of the product to this person.
  • What industry do you want to be in?Decide what product market appeals to you. Research different industries and products, compare them to openings for distributors in these areas.
  • Who is the end user? - Consider the kind of companies you will be selling to. This is dependent on the type of product you want to sell and the manufacturers you want to partner with. Think about whether you want to deal with clothing, food and beverage products, electronics, etc.
  • Build relationshipsNetworking is the foundation of the distribution industry. Relationships and connections will define you. Gain a deep understanding of your target market and clients to develop stronger partnerships. Keep communication open and available.
  • Know where your experience liesHave management skills, supply chain knowledge, finance and accounting experience, and sales and marketing training in your back pocket. Team building and leadership abilities are a must. As far as education goes, most distribution positions require a bachelor’s degree.
  • Don’t forget the basicsDraft a business plan. Include a distribution model, start-up costs, and a strategy to help your start-up distribution business soar.
  • Prepare proper licensesYou will need to register your company and make sure you have the proper permits for operating in your respective location and market. This will take a bit of legal research but you definitely do not want to overlook these requirements.
  • LogisticsThink about where your inventory is coming from and where you will store your inventory. The logistics are a monumental component of the success of a distributor. Stay organized and have clearly defined strategies for operations, assessing everything from customer management to delivery.
  • What’s ahead? Technological advances and trends cannot be overlooked. As the world goes digital, ecommerce is slowly integrating itself more and more into current processes. Ecommerce will constitute 20% of sales growth in the retail market, according to Entrepreneur. Always be on top of what is coming next to be able to plan for these kinds of changes that may affect distribution processes.

Gabrielle Downey

Gabrielle is a Content Marketing Journalist at Repsly with an enthusiasm for creativity and innovation. While pursuing her passion for writing, she is studying economics and philosophy at Boston College. She spends her free time exploring Boston in search of the best cup of coffee and cannoli.

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