Attention Wholesale – Is Wholesale a neglected research object in Germany?

Attention Wholesale – Is Wholesale a neglected research object in Germany?

Paper präsentiert auf der Nordic Retail and Wholesale Conference 2021 in Umeå, Schweden; Im Review Prozess für das Special Issue von The International Review of Retail, Distribution and Consumer Research 2022.

Wholesale in Germany is characterized by a high degree of diversity with traditional business models. In almost every branch of industry or trade an institutional wholesaler supplies and distributes all necessary products to manufacturers and retailers. During the last few decades, the core business model in wholesale – cost-efficient purchasing and selling products in large numbers – has been amended with product specific services. However, research on German wholesale gives the impression that it is not being explored to the same extent as it is the case with German retail especially regarding business model transformations and changes in competition. In this paper, we argue that the German institutional wholesale does not get the scientific attention as a domain compared to the retail sector. In a secondary data analysis based on the data provided by the federal office of statistics we show the economic importance and higher significance of the wholesale industry in Germany compared to the retail sector. This fact is not reflected in scientific contributions. We conducted a structured literature review on several databases and different queries in English and German. A comparison of the keywords shows that the number of publications with the keyword ‘retail’ succeeds the numbers of papers in which the keyword ‘wholesale’ was found. In our research we conclude that German wholesale as an industry is not researched in nearly the same depth as retail in relation to its economic importance. For this we assume several reasons. (1) In Germany, wholesale is not as present as retail in the public eye. (2) Wholesalers are mostly part of the German Mittelstand (medium sized companies), the backbone of the German economy, or part of the supply chains of important industries, and therefore (3) wholesale is being considered by researchers as part of larger field than as an object itself.

Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter / Research Assistent
Senior Researcher / Director Multilateral Ecosystems