Distributor – What does it mean and how to become one?

A distributor connects manufacturers to resellers and retailers, and is an important link in a supply chain. Here you’ll find valuable information on what a distributor does, what you should consider as a distributor, and how we at PostNord can assist with the distribution of products. Perfect if you run a business in distribution – or is about to start one.

A distributor will distribute or spread something from one party to another – for example from a supplier to the end customer, or to a different seller. It can be for physical products as well as digital services. The function of buying and selling to someone else means that distributors are often confused with resellers or retailers. They’re not entirely different, but there is an important distinction:

  • Distributor: Rarely sells products to end-consumers, but instead buys from manufacturers and sells to other companies – meaning the retailers. Often has exclusive rights to distribute the products of a certain manufacturer on a specific market.
  • Retailer: Buys from distributors and sells to the end consumer, for example a physical store or a web store.

Distributors and retailers are two parts of a chain – the distributor is the link between manufacturer and retailer, and the retailer is the link between distributor and consumer. Other than distributors and retailers, there are multiple other types of middle hands, which you can learn more about in our article on distribution channels.

Also read: General agent

Different types of distribution

To be a distributor you typically need your own company – for example a limited company. Some sort of platform to sell through is also good to have – either a physical store or online. Depending on what you want to distribute, your needs might vary. If you intend to purchase and sell physical products, you also need space for managing stock.

To deliver products you can either use your own transportation, or hire a shipping company. PostNord offers several smart services for quick and efficient distribution of products, of which you can read more about further down this page.

Last but not least, you need an agreement with the manufacturers from which you intend to buy your products and/or services. It’s good to know that different manufacturers have different requirements on their distributors. You can never distribute physical or digital products without an agreement with the manufacturer.

What is required to become a distributor?

Buying products or services to sell them under your own brand is the most common type of distribution, but it’s not the only one. A distributor can also be someone who is responsible for distributing and delivering something from the manufacturer to the buyer – from sender to receiver. Which is what we do at PostNord.

PostNord receives letters and packages from companies, with the task of transporting them to the right recipient – meaning to distribute.

Good to know if you want to become a distributor

Distributors play an important role in the flow between manufacturers and the larger market. Because distributors often have exclusive rights to distribute the products of a certain manufacturer to a specific market, competition is significantly less than in retail – and consequently, the opportunities are greater.

If you’re considering becoming a distributor – or if you’ve already started your own distribution business – we have some advice and things for you to consider:

  • Quality control is essential – ensure that the products you want to buy live up to the regulations and terms that apply
  • Analyse competition and demand – what does the market look like?
  • Create clear agreements with both customers and suppliers
  • Manage your logistics and distribution channels
  • Write a business plan

Smarter distribution with PostNord as your partner

In PostNord Portal Business you will find many services that make your job as a distributor easier and more efficient – including:

Skicka Direkt Business

Buy domestic or international shipping online. Print shipping labels on your own or at an agent.

Find out more about Skicka Direkt Business.


Connect your e-store and business management system with PostNord to automate the purchasing of shipping and improve documentation.

Find out more about Integrations.

The business portal is available online for companies. Create an account in less than a minute – completely free. And speaking of free: you haven’t missed our articles on logistics, have you?

Frequently asked questions about distributors

Who can become a distributor?

To be a distributor you need, in simple terms, a company, a manufacturer to buy products from, and a market to sell to.

How can PostNord aid distributors?

Among other things, PostNord can simplify the distribution of products with cost and time effective shipping solutions.

Can I buy products from abroad as a distributor?

Yes, but then you are an importer rather than a distributor.