Why don’t most producers of goods sell directly to customers?
There are no Whirlpool stores. If you want a Whirlpool refrigerator, you go to Sears or some other appliance retailer. Even if you visit the Whirlpool website, you will find that each product listing comes with a “Where to Buy” button.
Whirlpool is not in the direct-sales business. Managing all those consumer transactions is not a Whirlpool competency. It is easier to be a wholesaler, selling in bulk to retailers whose business model is based on consumer sales and the complex chain of financial transactions that go with it.
The Internet has enabled e-commerce and the likes of Amazon, disrupting brick-and-mortar retailing with more streamlined processes for financial transactions. Still, Whirlpool needs retailers to sell its goods to consumers, and the wholesale/retail dichotomy remains firmly in place—though perhaps not for long.
Large companies have launched big experiments with a new technology that could enable Whirlpool (and GE and Black & Decker and Samsung and every other producer of goods) to sell directly to customers. This technology could do to Amazon what Amazon did to brick-and-mortar retailers.
The technology is called blockchain