Generally, wholesalers offered a service to distant jewelers. They would obtain merchandise (materials) in bulk from manufacturers, and dispatch as few as one piece to a retail jeweler. Wholesalers also offered advertising support, maybe increased payment terms and operated as an independent jeweler’s buying organization. For the manufacturer, wholesalers were like eyes and ears in the market. They assisted manufacturers with design, and kept them familiar of the latest market trends.
Moreover, the overseas jewelry manufacturing sector is highly disintegrated. Most of those small manufacturers cannot afford their own sales force. By using jewelry wholesalers, they can acquire distribution into the American market.
In an industry which is as fragmented as the jewelry industry, wholesalers remain to play a vital role. But, as the number of independent jewelers decline, wholesalers may become a disappearing breed, just like they are present in the hardware/home center business, consumer electronics, office supplies and around every other major retail category. When retailers become large, they no longer require a wholesaler to assist them in source products and deal with manufacturers.
But the requirement for wholesalers by small overseas manufacturers will not diminish in near term. These small jewelry manufacturers require on-site representation in the American market. This is a continuous challenge which has secured the attention of some overseas governments. But, little progress has been made to beat this challenge.